World Bank plans $16bn fund to fight African climate change

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The World Bank is preparing to launch an ambitious investment plan at the forthcoming COP21 UN Climate Change Summit in Paris outlining its goal of raising $16.1 billion in order to tackle climate change in Africa.

According to details laid out in the plan, the entire African continent will require around $5-10 billion a year in order to adapt to a world where global temperatures have increased by two degrees Celsius. A far cheaper and safer alternative, the World Bank says, is to find the money now that can help Africa preemptively tackle the effects of future climate change.

The Africa Climate Business Plan will suggest to world leaders, development organizations and private investors that a focus on scaling-up low carbon energy sources such as solar PV and geothermal will give the continent a fighting chance of avoiding the most damaging effects of climate change.

"This plan identifies concrete steps that African governments can take to ensure that their countries will not lose hard-won gains in economic growth and poverty reduction, and they can offer some protection from climate change," said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

Further initiatives set to be outlined in the plan include ways of boosting the "resilience of Africa’s assets", with keen focus directed towards small-island developing states at risk from rising sea levels. Another strategy will focus on supporting "climate-smart agriculture" designed to reduce greenhouse gases.

The World Bank believes that the dreaded two degree Celsius increase – widely agreed by scientists and environmentalists as an irreversible tipping point in the earth’s atmosphere – will result in the loss of some 40-80% of suitable growing areas in sub-Saharan Africa for many of the region’s staple crops, including maize and millet.

"Sub-Saharan Africa is highly vulnerable to climate shocks, and our research shows that could have a far-ranging impact – on everything from child stunting and malaria to food price increases and droughts," added Kim.

The World Bank plan will be launched at COP21. The International Development Association, an arm of the World Bank that supports the world’s poorest nations, has already pledged to deliver $5.7 billion of the fund, with the hope being that the UN summit can convince nations and development organizations to pitch in, given that Africa contributes the least to the world’s greenhouse gases, but stands to suffer from the most severe impacts of climate change.