All three glaciers in Africa are expected to disappear by the 2040s due to climate change, which the UN climate agency said symbolizes the “threat of irreversible” change to the Earth system, according to a report on climate change trends by the World Meteorological Organization and African Union agencies.
Three glaciers — Mount Kenya massif in Kenya, the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania – that are of “eminent touristic and scientific importance” are on track to disappear by the 2040s, the report released Tuesday said.
Mount Kenya is expected to melt a decade earlier than the other two mountains due to human-induced climate change, the report said.
Africa saw its third-warmest year on record in 2020, the report said, citing a dataset.
WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement that investments are “particularly needed” in capacity development and technology transfer to help Africa navigate climate change that’s also expected to impact the region’s economy and poverty.
The report estimated that as many as 118 million extremely poor people, those who live on less than $1.90 a day, will face drought, floods and extreme heat in Africa by 2030. The looming change will hamper economic growth and efforts to alleviate poverty, Josefa Sacko, African Union Agriculture Commissioner, said in a statement. Dealing with climate change could lower Africa’s gross domestic product by up to 3% by 2050, the report added.
“The rapid shrinking of the last remaining glaciers in eastern Africa, which are expected to melt entirely in the near future, signals the threat of imminent and irreversible change to the Earth system,” Taalas said in a statement.
Even though Africa is responsible for less than 4% of greenhouse gas emissions, it is disproportionately affected by climate change, Reuters reported. In a report released last Monday, the World Health Organization said climate change is the biggest threat to people’s health, as hotter weather threatens to take back 50 years of improvements made on global health.
Africa accounted for more than one in 10 new population displacements worldwide, the WMO report said. Over 1.2 million people were displaced due to storms and floods, and conflict caused nearly 500,000 people to leave their homes in 2020.