Regional Environmental Law

Regional Environmental Law

Transregional Comparative Lessons in Pursuit of Sustainable Development

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Edited by Werner Scholtz and Jonathan Verschuuren

The core focus of this timely volume is to ascertain how regional environmental law may contribute to the pursuit of global sustainable development. Leading scholars critically analyze the ways in which states may pool sovereignty to find solutions to environmental problems, presenting a comparative legal analysis of the manner in which the AU, EU, OAS and ASEAN deal with the issues of climate change, human rights and the environment.

Chapter 3: Africa and climate change: legal perspectives from the AU

Daniel M. Pallangyo and Werner Scholtz

Subjects: development studies, law and development, environment, environmental law, law - academic, comparative law, environmental law, law and development


Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to the consequences of climate change. It is particularly sub-Saharan Africa which faces a number of climate-related challenges. Climate variability and change will have a significant effect on the following: access to and demand for water, the agricultural sector, the use of energy, the health sector, coastal zones, tourism, settlements and infrastructure, as well as aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Although Africa is greatly endangered by the impacts of climate change, it has played an insignificant role in causing the problem. Furthermore, African countries are among the poorest of the developing countries. Poverty, weak governance and insufficient adaptation capacity exacerbate the effects of climate change. Ultimately, climate change may hamper the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the sustainable development of African states. The need to respond to the impacts of climate change is therefore urgent as the climate-related impacts are starting to materialise more rapidly than ever before. The pursuit of adaptive capacity and adaption thus emerge as major concerns for consideration on the continent. Individual African states, however, lack the capacity to respond to the challenges that climate change pose. Hence, the African Union (AU) as a regional organisation has initiated actions to respond to this dismal challenge. It is therefore the main aim of this chapter to analyse the manner in which the AU has responded to climate change.

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