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Amid pandemic, African presidents keep eye on climate change

Amid pandemic, African presidents keep eye on climate change

At a recent African Development Bank meeting, heads of state from across the continent were quick to note that solutions to problems posed by climate change do exist. They’re just being implemented too slowly – a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From heat-resistant crops to insurance that helps nations rebuild after a disaster, efforts to adapt to growing climate risks are taking root in Africa – but the work is too slow and is now threatened by COVID-19, African leaders warned Tuesday.

Just 3% of international climate finance is reaching the continent, Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), told an online meeting seeking advice from African heads of state on how to accelerate adaptation.

The bank said earlier this year it would raise $25 billion by 2025 to spur climate action in Africa, with at least half going to back projects to adapt and build resilience to worsening droughts, storms, floods, and sea level rise.

But with the coronavirus pandemic hitting economies and development budgets around the world, raising money for climate action has become harder over the last year, even as climate change-related risks surge, African leaders admitted.

“We are soon going to need at least this much [$25 billion] every year if we do not effectively mitigate and reverse climate change,” warned Gabon’s President Ali Bongo.

“Every day the thunderstorms seem more violent. Flooding is more frequent and droughts are more severe,” he said. “Crops are failing. People are being forced to flee their homes [and] becoming climate refugees.”

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