By Mary Hearty
In the past decade, global warming has been very rapid, and unless large scale global climate protection actions are taken, minimizing it will not be possible.
Sadly, the warming has been more rapid in Africa than the global average as the continent experiences extreme weather events, and this is projected to increase in the coming decades.
Dr Joseph Nzau Mutemi, one of the Lead Authors of the just-released 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and Scientist at the University of Nairobi, said during a virtual media briefing dubbed: 2021 IPCC6th Assessment Report on Climate Change: Policy Implications forAfrica with Africa Science Media Centre (AfriSMC) on 18 August,2021.
He advised that key pathways for slowing and reversing the adverse impacts include implementation of the action programs of major Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, with an emphasis on national actions on Nationally Determined Emissions (NDEs) and timelines for Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation (MLE).
Basically, Dr Mutemi explained that climate change is caused by excess gases in the atmosphere which retain energy escaping from the earth’s surface, then returning it back to the surface thus making the surface warmer.
The main gaseous components of concern which re-emit energy from the atmosphere back to the surface of the earth are Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane, and other gas pollutants like Nitrous Oxide and substances containing chlorine and carbon called chlorofluorocarbons.
The Scientist mentioned that in the last 30 years, global climate has been successively warmer. Moreover, current evidence shows that the climate is nearly 1.1 Celsius warmer than pre-industrial era especially in Africa where the warming has been more rapid and much higher than the global average.
According to Dr Mutemi, human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in the last decades. However, there is hope that the warm climate can be minimized before the end of the current century.
He further explained that the observed warming is driven by emissions from human activities, with greenhouse gas warming, partly masked by aerosol cooling, he also affirmed that Carbon Dioxide is the major driver of global warming, followed by Methane among others.
“When it comes to fossil fuels, both petroleum and liquefied gas is one sure contributor of emissions. While green energy which is non CO2 like wind-generated do not produce emissions.”
Therefore, he suggested that limiting cumulative CO2 emissions along with other greenhouse gas emissions by raising awareness could help reduce the future climate change. Also, strong rapid and sustained reduction in Methane emissions could limit the warming effect resulting from declining aerosol pollution.
At the moment, Dr Mutemi said: “Climate change is already affecting every inhabited region across the globe, with human influence contributing to many observed changes in weather and climate extremes. For instance, there is emergence of hot weather conditions across the globe including sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, among others.
Another observed change he talked about is the increased heavy precipitation in Southern Africa and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. An additional observed change is agricultural and ecological drought which is a serious threat to our livelihood like water resources, food production, pasture, among others.
With every increment of global warming, Dr Mutemi described that changes get larger in regional mean temperature, precipitation and soil moisture decline. Furthermore, precipitation is projected to increase over high latitudes, the equatorial Pacific and parts of the monsoon regions, but decrease over parts of the subtropics and in limited areas of the tropics.