COP 27: How to talk about climate change with Africa

Nov 17, 2022|Noelle Okwedy

COP 27, the United Nation’s annual climate conference, is rounding up in Egypt, and the spotlight is on Africa.

Despite contributing less than 4% of global emissions, Africa is the worst hit by climate change. Worse, the effects, such as flooding and drought, compound our already dire development issues and increase poverty levels. Taking matters to an even worse level, we don’t have the funding to build infrastructure to adapt to these climate change effects.

Key takeaways:

  1. COP 27 is underway in Egypt, and President Buhari has written an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled “How not to talk to Africa about climate change.”

  2. Available data corroborates President Buhari’s claims on poor funding to developing nations and natural resource hypocrisy by rich countries.

  3. However, a balanced view also acknowledges Nigeria’s shortcomings in responding to climate change disasters and developing its own natural resources.

Macky Sall, the President of Senegal, was spot on when he said, "We are funding our own adaptation efforts when we are the victims, which means we are being doubly punished.” His final line echoed the sentiments of many African leaders, activists, and climate watchers: “We are not ready to put up with that” (the poor treatment of African countries by developed nations). This defines Africa’s climate stance in a nutshell.

Nigeria’s President Buhari also contributed his two cents to the issue in a hard-hitting Washington Post opinion piece, which he says should be the starting point for COP 27 conversations. The blunt opening line perfectly sets the sober tone: “Part of my nation is underwater.”

Our data story on the recent floods covered this, but Nigeria has been battling climate-change-induced floods for a decade, and it’s getting worse yearly. In 2019, the floods displaced over 277,000 people; in 2020, over two million people were displaced. Some states in the south-south will experience rainfall for ten out of twelve months in the year, meaning that flooding is inevitable. Beyond flooding, Lake Chad is drying up and causing conflict between herders and farmers as they compete for the diminishing number of arable lands. Essentially, the effects of climate change on Nigeria are undeniable.

However, while President Buhari’s story was pretty compelling, we figured it would be even more compelling with data and added nuance. So, here are President Buhari’s major grievances with the Western world on climate change backed by data. We’ve split the four points into two major points: funding and natural resource use.

His first issue is the most

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