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How Governments Should Respond to the Potential Economic Impact of Climate Change

Over the last couple of years, there have been significant events that raised valid questions around the impact of shifting weather patterns and climate change on the African continent. In March 2019 tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall near the Mozambican port city of Beira, ravaging the coastline and inland communities. Sadly, the United Nations estimated that Cyclone Idai and the flooding that followed it claimed the lives of more than 600 people, injured an estimated 1,600 and affected more than 1.8 million people. The impact to the economy was also estimated at a GDP growth cut from a forecast of 6.6% to 2.3% with a stated $773 million loss from damage to buildings, infrastructure and crops. Elsewhere on the continent, shifting weather patterns are taking a toll with clear examples such as Lake Chad- which has shrunk 90% since the 1960s. There are huge debates around the causes of climate change. Whatever side of the debate one is on, it is undeniable that African countries are experiencing a temperature rise on average 1°C more than other parts of the world. Studies conducted by the Department for International Development show the potential economic impact of climate change in Nigeria is between 6 – 30% of GDP between $100 – $460 billion- A wide range but not insignificant.  This needs to be met with a robust response. Governments on the continent are spending between 2 and 9% of GDP on climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives but questions are raised over if this is enough. Now more than ever, well trained engineers are essential to maximize the impact of this important work.