Despite some slowing of the US economy, the world continues to experience strong growth, not least due to the power of the largest emerging market economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China - the so-called BRICs.

It is now just over five years since Goldman Sachs introduced the acronym, with the suggestion that global economic policymaking needed a radical overhaul to better represent the current and future economic order. Since then, a modest change to the International Monetary Fund's structure has been agreed and China and the other BRIC countries have been invited to fringe meetings of the Group of Seven advanced industrialised countries and the Group of Eight; but otherwise, very little has changed.

Luckily, the rapid growth of the BRIC economies has helped strengthen the world economy in that time, both directly and indirectly. Nonetheless, the challenges that have arisen from the growing importance of these economies cannot be met under the current global governance structure.

Like the EU and ASEAN, BRIC have taken steps to increase their political cooperation, mainly as a way of influencing the United States position on major trade accords, or, through the implicit threat of political cooperation, as a way of extracting political concessions from the United States, such as the proposed nuclear cooperation with India.

Among the main challenges to consider are the availability - and security of - energy and other resource supplies; a better balance of global capital flows; a meaningful reduction in global imbalances; the shared acceptance of globalisation; and of course, a credible plan for reduction in global greenhouse gases. The last issue in particular, highlighted recently in the UK in Sir Nicholas Stern's report on climate change, has little chance of having enduring impact unless leading developed and developing countries think seriously about global warming, alongside the other critical economic issues.

It is often said that the grouping of the BRIC economies makes no sense, as they have little in common. This is not true. These four developing economies have the population size to enable them, individually, to be as large as the world's biggest economies in the next 30 years. If we add their productivity potential to their populations, the combined gross domestic product of these four economies could exceed the G7 by 2035. No other large developing economies have this potential. China is in a league of its own within the Brics, as demonstrated by the sheer magnitude of its economic rise.

In the past five years, China has not only overtaken Italy, France and the UK in terms of economic size, and is likely to overtake Germany in the next year or so, despite the latter's improving fortunes. Brazil is dominant in soy and iron ore while Russia has enormous supplies of oil and natural gas. Goldman Sachs' thesis thus documents how commodities, work, technology, and companies have diffused outward from the United States across the world.

India's enormous potential is also widely recognised by many, but Brazil and Russia are often, incorrectly, regarded as unworthy of the same company. If Brazil and Russia do not share China's potential, who does? Certainly not Italy or France. Russia has contributed as much to global growth as India in the past five years (about one-third the combined amount of the eurozone in current US dollar terms) and its foreign exchange reserves, close to $300bn (£152bn), are more than the eurozone countries' foreign exchange reserves combined.

Given the prospect of further ongoing rapid growth for the Bric countries, the resource and sustainability challenges that go with it and the west's increasing angst associated with their rise, it is imperative that western leaders are bold enough to encourage more rapid institutional changes to the structure of the G7, G8, IMF and other global governance bodies. This would enable the world's current healthier economic environment to be sustained. Let us not look back on this period as a wasted opportunity.

In 2005 the emerging economies overcome developed economies by their share in the World GDP calculated at purchasing power parity.

- The BRIC countries were the main driving force for GDP growth of the emerging economies.
- Fast growing economies with the biggest source of labor;
- They are changing the consumption and production pattern in the world economy;
- As their influence on the global economy grows so do the risks for the sustainable world development;
- Their role in the global policy is increasing as well the geopolitical importance for their regions and the world.1

Of course, some may argue that the likes of the G7 and IMF have barely any influence on the modern global economy, so why worry about their role? Certainly, the longer they stay in their current format, the less purpose they seem to serve. Surely, it would be better to reform them, allowing these institutions not only to serve a useful function but to offer a purpose to cope with the inevitable problems that lie around the corner. More than one-third of economic growth since 2000 has originated from the BRIC economies and together, with the US, more than 60 per cent of global activity. It seems only sensible that these countries should at least sit at the same policymaking table as Japan, Canada and Europe.2

China is the world's second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, but as a developing country is not yet required to reduce its emissions. With China accounting for a fifth of the world's population, increases in its emissions could dwarf any cuts made by the industrialised countries.

The average Chinese person consumes only 10-15% of the energy an average US citizen uses, but with the economy developing at high speed many analysts expect China's total emissions to overtake America's by mid-century.

Fossil fuels play a major role - China is the world's biggest coal producer and oil consumption has doubled in the last 20 years. The country faced power cuts in 2004 as soaring growth outstripped electricity generation.

However, although no UN figures are available, analysts say there is evidence to back up Chinese claims of a reduction in emissions during the late 1990s, largely due to increased efficiency and slower economic growth.

China's leaders recognise that climate change could devastate their society and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. In 2004 Beijing announced plans to generate 10% of its power from renewable sources by 2010. But it is far from clear whether the country would ever agree to internationally-imposed emissions restrictions.

Like India and Brazil, China is a fast-growing economic power. It has experienced severe energy shortages in recent years, as demand has been increasing by as much as 15% a year but generation only by around 12%.

The Chinese economy, with its huge consumption of steel and chemicals and all the associated industries, is highly energy intensive. More than 70% of China’s greenhouse gas emissions come from industry. The country’s economic output per unit of energy used is only 20% that of the United States and 14% that of Japan per unit output.

China’s government is already aware of the direct impact of the coal burning that fuels about two-thirds of the country’s electricity supply. 30% of the nation’s land has been eroded, and five Chinese cities are among the ten most polluted cities in the world.

There are some signs of progress. The government has released its first renewable energy utility law, renewable state plan and state wind resource assessment. It has published China’s first national strategy on tackling climate change under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

At COP (Conference of Parties) 10, the Chinese government sent out a clear signal that if industrialised countries intend to create technology-transfer mechanisms, it will be ready to talk about an emission cap. It is arguable that among the Group of 77 (G77) developing countries, China is now taking the leading role. The challenge is still huge. In order to prevent the most severe climate change, really new institutions are needed. This will require some “global wisdom”, quite apart from “national interest”.

India is a large developing country with nearly 700 million rural population directly depending on climate-sensitive sectors (agriculture, forests and fisheries) and natural resources (such as water, biodiversity, mangroves, coastal zones, grasslands) for their subsistence and livelihoods. Further, the adaptive capacity of dry land farmers, forest dwellers, fisher folk, and nomadic shepherds is very low. Climate change is likely to impact all the natural ecosystems as well as socio-economic systems.

Developing countries like India are not obliged to make any cuts in greenhouse emissions under Kyoto. But as they raise living standards their emissions will increase. India's emissions are estimated to have risen by more than 50% in the 1990s, although the country has only submitted emissions figures to the UN for one year, 1994.

India recognises that many of its one billion people will be vulnerable to the effects of climate change and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in August 2002.

But with India's economy and population, like China's, continuing to grow, it is clear that the thorny issue of developing country emissions commitments will have to be tackled soon in future rounds of negotiations.

Political leaders in India view climate change as a strategic issue rather than a fundamental problem that could have unforeseeable socio-economic consequences. They speak in catastrophic terms of the impacts of climate change when it suits them politically, without necessarily believing what they say.

Scepticism of some of the more extreme claims may be in order. But India cannot afford to belittle the challenge that climate change poses. Agricultural, coastal fishing and forest-dwelling communities – form a majority of a national population now exceeding one billion people – are extremely vulnerable to shifts in weather systems and ecosystems resulting from climate change.

A sizeable proportion of India’s poor already face threats to their survival, which could be exacerbated by climate change. In 150 of the country’s poorest districts, drought is a perennial feature (these mostly tribal-dominated districts contain some 40% of India’s forest resources). Moreover, India’s long coastline is threatened by unexpected natural calamities like the cyclone in Orissa in 1999 and the tsunami in December 2004.

Indian governments have taken a strong moral stand on climate change in the past. More recently, the government has seen it more as a business opportunity. There seem to be two preoccupations: milking the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) cow, and avoiding any legally binding limits on its emissions.

The biggest challenge for civil society groups in India is not getting their government to take a rhetorical position internationally; it is persuading the government to take stronger action at home. Thus, countries such as India with a large population dependent on climate-sensitive sectors and low adaptive capacity have to develop and implement adaptation strategies. 3

The challenge of climate change has particular features from a Brazilian perspective. Around 70% of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation, and there has been very limited progress in addressing this problem over the past decade. By contrast Brazil’s energy matrix – power generation and transport – has relatively low greenhouse gas emissions because of the extensive use of hydroelectricity and biomass energy sources such as alcohol and charcoal.

Brazil has played an active and constructive role in international negotiations. Brazil presented the original proposal for a clean development fund that became the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in Kyoto, and continues to be very active in the Group of 77 (G-77) and elsewhere. Brazil also plays key roles in several United Nations forums and a leadership role in Latin America.

Domestically, the government established a Brazilian Climate Change Forum (FBMC) to engage business, academia, trade unions and NGO representatives in the debate of national policies and CDM criteria. The ministry of foreign affairs has invited representatives from diverse sectors of society to meetings prior to each international negotiation. We think these meetings offer civil society a real opportunity to influence the process even though they are organised presentations of government positions. Civil society representatives have also been included in the Brazilian delegation to negotiations for the climate regime.

Public opinion and media coverage in Brazil is overwhelmingly in favour of action to prevent climate change. The small number of “climate sceptics” has very little influence. But there has been little public debate of what form Brazil’s eventual emission-reduction commitments may take, and the government’s negotiating strategy – in line with the G-77 position – has been to resist any formal discussion of this issue. The overwhelming role of deforestation in Brazil’s emissions makes it likely that this question will be central to future negotiations of Brazil’s role in the emerging global emissions-reduction regime.

Negotiations over climate change offer civil society groups a venue for pursuing more democratic global governance, and a chance to frame this debate in terms of sustainable development ideas. They can help to link global governance to values and actions that can promote equity, and social and environmental justice. 4

Russia ratified the Kyoto Protocol in November 2004 - the crucial moment making the treaty legally binding. Russia's entry was vital, because the protocol had to be ratified by nations accounting for at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions to become valid. This target was only met after Russia joined.

Russia's economy has shrunk so drastically since 1990 that industrial activity has dropped, leaving emissions reduced by about 35% and well below the level allowed under Kyoto.

In the short-term, Russia stands to gain billions of dollars through emissions trading - selling its unused emissions entitlement to developed countries which want to emit more than the protocol allows them to.

It says the money would be used for energy efficiency projects. Committing to keep emissions low could, however, bring Russia economic costs in the longer term. 5

The main comparative advantages of Russia are related to macroeconomic stability and rich natural resources:

- To diversify away from its growing dependence on natural resources and to maintain its comparative advantage, the Russian economy will need to boost the productivity and international competitiveness of its manufacturing sector.

- Russia can do this by:
- creating incentives for greater firm-level innovation,
- by improving the skill base of its labor force,
- by creating a stable policy environment that is conducive to competition.6



China and India need to face the climate change challenge. The world’s two fastest-growing large economies are growing increasingly conscious of the global warming in which their rapid development is playing a part. Although China and India acknowledge that their emissions are rising, there’re drawing attention to the fact that the world must recognise their right to grow. That means it will consume large quantities of energy and secondly, an urgent need for the accessibility to clean technology.

If these two points are recognised, China, India and other developing countries will come forward to assume their share of the responsibilities. However, they are not the largest polluters as their carbon emissions are still very small.

India and China both face increasing environmental issues due to Climate Change. Both China and India suffer from acute air and water pollution. In 83 Indian cities for which air quality monitoring data are available, more than 84 per cent of the population was in 2004 forced to inhale poor, bad or dangerous air. Only 3 per cent had access to air that was rated good. China is home to 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, with dirty air causing the premature deaths of 400,000 people a year. About 340m people, about one-quarter of the population, do not have access to clean water.

Still, both China and India are clearly concerned about climate change for their own sakes, let alone the impact on the rest of the world. In China, scientists warn that the impact of rising temperatures on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau could alter the amount of water flowing into the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, which originate in the region. The same sort of impact may be felt in key Indian river systems.

India’s agricultural productivity, already flagging, is thought likely to suffer because of high temperatures, drought, flood and soil degradation. The Chinese media have cited similar scenarios, including a fall in grain output by 10 per cent a year from 2030. Such threats run counter to the maintenance of food security, which both governments prize.

If the issue is not acknowledged then China and India will increasingly face water, food, resources, pollution and other problems. Adaptation and change is better for both.

Although improved in recent years, the Russian investment climate is still characterized by significant instability, as well as a tendency to punish its most dynamic and innovative firms. Creating better investment climate and promoting environment for fair competition is crucial for competitiveness and innovation in Russia.

Countries successful in creating an innovation economy are characterized by a high level of competition and competitive pressures which reinforces the importance of competition for innovation in Russia. This problem is related to key areas of structural reform in Russia: administrative reform, fiscal federalism, local self-government, competition policy, administrative barriers to business, and land reform. 7

All BRIC countries face the challenges of improving their human rights record, particularly in China and Russia. Developed and developing countries alike share concerns about the security implications of our rising energy needs. And in turn about how increased energy use is threatening our climate. If the multilateral system is to be effective and legitimate, all BRIC countries must be fully integrated into it. That is the challenge.

Global governance structures need better to reflect the changes in the structure of the global economy. We need global institutions that are fit for the 21st century. In the last few years, we have seen a boom in commodity and stock markets. But recent market corrections are a timely reminder that we must continue to reassess, reform and renew, to ensure that these institutions can deliver in the bad times as well as the good times. For that we need BRIC countries and other emerging powers fully on board.

Notes

1. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTRUSSIANFEDERATION/147270-1109938296415/21077781/BRIC_Eng.pdf

2. Financial Times, ‘The Brics economies must help form worldpolicy’, 23 January 2007
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/fd4c95b2-aa86-11db-83b0-0000779e2340.html

3. Current Science, ‘Climate change, sustainable development and India: Global and national concerns,’ Vol. 90, No. 3, 10 February 2006
http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/feb102006/314.pdf

4. Open Democracy, ‘China, India, and Brazil: activists debate climate change,’ 19 May 2005
http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-climate_change_debate/article_2520.jsp#

5. BRIC countries in comparative perspective, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTRUSSIANFEDERATION/147270-1109938296415/21077781/BRIC_Eng.pdf

6. BBC News, ‘Climate Change: The big emitters,’ 4 July 2005 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3143798.stm

7. BRIC countries in comparative perspective,
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTRUSSIANFEDERATION/147270-1109938296415/21077781/BRIC_Eng.pdf





The study from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in April 2007, says "By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people [in Africa] are projected to be exposed to an increase of water stress due to climate change," the report says. African agricultural production is projected to be "severely compromised by climate variability and change," with decreases likely in the area suitable for agriculture, the length of the growing season and yield potential. "In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 20 per cent by 2020," the report says.1

The sheer scale of Africa's problems can induce an understandable sense of hopelessness that progress can be made. It helps explain the shocking fact that aid to Africa, has fallen since 1995. But there are reasons for optimism. We have seen the emergence of a new generation of democratically elected African leaders, determined that their governments will work cleanly and effectively to improve life for their citizens.

According to the World Bank, governance has been improving faster in Africa than in many other areas of the developing world. Conflict in Africa, although still devastating where it occurs, is also decreasing. Mozambique, a country brought to its knees by vicious fighting, has cut its levels of poverty by almost a third since peace. The civil war in Sierra Leone is over and the country is slowly recovering. The Africa Union is playing an increasing role in settling conflicts.

The best way to reduce poverty is through economic growth. And we know that economic growth can be increased by aid. Fifteen countries in Africa had average growth rates above 4% throughout the 1990s. Half of Africa had growth of over 5.9% in 2001. Many of the countries which have benefited from increased aid, such as Uganda and Mozambique, have seen poverty fall over an extended period. Uganda has introduced universal primary education and free basic health care.

But the state of Africa is also a case, unusual in politics, where heart and head are pushing in the same direction. Famine in Africa will affect all countries because it will be a trigger for mass migration. Conflict, too, drives millions to flee their homes. Both create the conditions for terrorism and fanaticism to take root and spread directly to Europe, to North America and to Asia. One has to spend billions on humanitarian aid to help pick up the pieces. A prosperous Africa, where its people have the chance to fulfil their talents, is in everyone’s interests.

Africa is seen as particularly vulnerable to climate change. The size of its land-mass means that, in the middle of the continent, overall rises in temperature will be up to double the global rise, with increased risk of extreme droughts, floods and outbreaks of disease. It is estimated that African GDP could decline by up to 10% because of climate change.

But no country will escape its impact. And there can be no doubt that the world is getting warmer. Temperatures have already risen by 0.7°C over the past century, and the ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1991. It's the fastest rise in temperatures in the northern hemisphere for a thousand years.

This temperature rise has meant a rise in sea level that, if it continues as predicted, will mean hundreds of millions of people increasingly at risk from flooding. And climate change means more than warmer weather: other extreme, increasingly unpredictable, weather events such as rainstorms and droughts will also have a heavy human and economic cost.2

Global warming has become an increasingly pervasive topic of discussion and concern for the scientific community. From fears over oceanic inundation of low-lying island nations such as the Maldives to glacial melting in the Arctic, higher temperatures around the globe have put experts on edge about the future of the world's health and balance. Nowhere has the phenomenon become more immediate than for the African continent. A series of recent studies have revealed a sobering future for the majority of Africa, a future predicated by undeniable and significant climate change. The threat traverses all levels of the environmental, social, political and economic spheres, from heightened socio-economic disparity to dwindling fish populations, from civil strife to desperate hunger.

One major symptom of climate change is the disruption of regular seasonal patterns over large regions of the continent. Certain areas have long suffered from heady flooding and drought, but these phenomena seem to be on the rise in both severity and duration. In the 1970s, an extended drought in the Sahel was responsible for the deaths of 300,000 people. The Sahel is wide section of land that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to what is known as the Horn of Africa, encompassing Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and Sudan. This region is a zone of transition between the aridity of the Sahara Desert in the north and the sub-tropical and tropical south. Previously, the tragedy in the Sahel was attributed to factors such as over-grazing and overpopulation, however recent information is proving otherwise.

A group of researchers presented their findings on the subject at the American Geophysical Union's annual conference in May of this year. Generated from the analysis of 60 separate computer simulations imitating global climate, the results infer that the temperature increase in the Indian Ocean is to blame for the present drought in southern Africa. Further, higher rainfall in the Sahel appears to be linked to temperature changes in the Atlantic. The nature of the change is not as simple as a straightforward increase in temperature however.

Regular droughts have decimated crop yields in various parts of the continent since 1970. The scientists' models reveal consistent and marked warming of the Indian Ocean, implying persistent and increased occurrence of drought in the Horn as well as southern Africa. Results indicate that the droughts in southern Africa can be traced directly to the change in the Indian Ocean, which has warmed by one degree Celsius since 1950. The new models show that the regular monsoon winds that bring seasonal rain to sub-Saharan Africa may be 10-20% drier than in the last 50 year period. With this warming, rainy seasons are becoming markedly shorter.

In the past, the northern Atlantic has traditionally been cooler than the southern Atlantic, drawing rain-rich winds away from the Sahel. In the last 10 years of this period however, the conditions changed so that the north Atlantic was now warmer, resulting in increased rainfall in the Sahel, ending the drought in the 1990s. In essence a sea-surface temperature reversal has occurred. On dry land, the situation is similar. It has been estimated that the average surface temperature will rise between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees in the next 100 years. The greatest warming is projected to occur in the Sahel and central southern Africa.

Another indicator for the effects of climate change is vegetation. Scientists believe that majority of current plant matter in Africa is threatened by the new variance of seasonal patterns, water supply and a general warming trend. Researchers from England's University of York speculate that an effect comparable to the most recent Ice Age and the African forest decline 2500 years ago may occur in light of the changing climatic dynamic. With the creation of climate fluctuation models, scientists have been able to determine the hypothetical impact of predicted climatic change in the responses of over 5000 native plant species. The simulations reveal results similar to other studies, namely a rise in frequency and intensity of drought in the Sahel. Actual plant migrations out of regions like the Congo rainforests were recorded by the models. Additional findings suggest the other areas that will likely feel the impact of climate change are the eastern and southwest coast regions of Africa.

Participants in the study drew the shared conclusion that beyond the environment, the predicted climate change would lead to large-scale social impacts in the continent. As resources grow more scarce, tension increases proportionately. Social effects resulting from climate change are inevitably and inextricably tied to politics. The domino effect of increased hunger, subsequent environmental stress and heightened relations between people is simply another symptom of altered climate.

Hunger currently affects about half of the continent's people. Presently, various humanitarian organizations contribute six billion dollars annually to help feed the continent. Scientists anticipate even tougher times for Africa with ballooning famines, larger in both severity and duration, stemming from a higher incidence of drought. The majority of the African population relies of rain-fed crops for subsistence, making changes in their environment, especially changes in the water supply, a dire threat. Many farmers operate lacking the most basic of irrigation systems. Close to 40 percent of the GDP of African nations come from agriculture, with 70 percent of workers employed in the industry. When the fields fail to produce, the people struggle for survival and must look elsewhere for sustenance.

Livestock is also affected by the change as animals struggle to find water and vegetation for grazing. Other threatened organisms include fish species that also provide nourishment for people. Fish populations are dropping as the air temperature rises, interfering with the production of algae, the essential link in the aquatic food web. Overfishing is another cause. There has been a 30 percent decline in fish stocks in Lake Tanganyika over the last 80 years. Fish stocks in Ghana are down by 50 percent. Only intensifying the environmental stress, fisherman are beginning to transition into farming, which in turn leads to deforestation and its associated problems, now that the source of their original livelihood is dwindling. Increased pressure has also been placed on wild game, now increasingly hunted for food.

Other related problems emanating from the warming are emerging as serious threats. With the temperature increase, malaria has been on the rise throughout the continent as mosquitoes' ranges have been expanded. The disease is affecting previously safe communities and ravaging populations. One of Africa’s most noted landmarks, Mount Killimanjaro, is also showing signs of stress from climate change. Scientists predict that most of the peak’s glaciers will melt by 2020. Widespread deforestation on the lower slopes of Killimanjaro is further compounding the effects of global warming.

The greatest and saddest irony of this dark fate projected for the continent is that while Africa has the world's lowest levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, contributing the least to global climate change, it has been forced to bear the brunt of the phenomenon. Producing just over one metric ton of carbon dioxide per person a year, Africa is the least-polluting continent on Earth. In contrast, the average American generates close to 16 metric tons over the same period. This works out to a mere four percent for the entire continent, compared with the United States' 23 percent contribution. The mostly poor, developing nations that comprise the continent are the least prepared to adapt to its effects. The impact of the warming will ultimately endanger food availability and security throughout the continent. Climate change is just another problem that compounds the continent's already grave circumstance. Without serious changes, specifically the curbing of emissions in developed nations, scientists believe climate change due to global warming will continue to cripple Africa and destroy chances for progress and the alleviation of poverty and hunger. 3

We have a responsibility not only to our contemporaries but also to future generations –- a responsibility to preserve resources that belong to them as well as to us, and without which none of us can survive. That means we must do much more, and urgently, to prevent or slow down climate change. Everyday that we do nothing, or too little, imposes higher costs on our children and our children’s children. Of course, it reminds me of an African proverb -- the earth is not ours but something we hold in trust for future generations. Our generation need to demonstrate that they will be worthy of that trust.

It's very clear that energy is a key issue for countries to get out of poverty and to stimulate economic development. One of the biggest problems in the world today is that there are literally 2 billion people who still rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating. This biomass is normally burnt indoors, and it leads to the loss of several million lives per year of young children and women. So, one of the biggest challenges we face is to improve indoor air quality for literally 2 billion people around the world. They need access to modern energy, modern cook stoves and to electricity. So, one of the number one challenges in the world, in addition to getting access to clean water and sanitation, is to get access to modern energy services so we can reduce the death of literally 2 million women and children in developing countries due to poor indoor air.

So, we need to get efficient stoves, and we need access to energy, electricity. Clearly it would be best if the electricity were to come from a modern form of renewable energy such as solar, wind, and micro-hydro. But it is also clear that some of this energy has to come from burning of fossil fuels, it is a high priority insofar as we must reduce the mortality due to indoor air pollution.

At the moment, the whole of the African continent only emits 4 percent of the total global emissions of greenhouse gases. Clearly, Africa is not the problem with respect to climate change. What is a challenge for Africa is to adapt to climate challenge. It is probably one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to climate change. Most of its agricultural productivity will decrease. It will see an increase in vector-borne diseases. Some of the coastal areas will be susceptible to sea level rise. Many of the arid and semi-arid areas will become drier.

So, one of the challenges that we have is how to help African countries become less vulnerable to natural climate variability, and also to be less vulnerable to human-induced climate change. In other words, we need to integrate climate variability and climate change considerations into national economic development strategies and into sectoral strategies of water, agriculture, human health, and coastal zone management.

So, the big challenge at the moment is not to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases in Africa. The two challenges are to get access to modern energy and also to adapt to climate change. Activities such as agroforestry can be extremely beneficial insofar as if they're well done, they would provide rural income, but they could also sequester carbon into the soils and carbon into the trees, and that could help to lessen the magnitude of human-induced climate change.4

Notes

1. The Independent, ‘How the worst effects of climate change will be felt by the poorest,’ 7 April 2007
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/climate_change/article2430118.ece

2. Tony Blair, Economist article on Africa and climate change, 1 January 2005
http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page6912.asp

3. Mongabay, ‘Africa Heats Up -- climate change threatens future of the continent,’ October 11, 2005
http://news.mongabay.com/2005/1011-tina_butler_africa.html

4. World Bank, Interview with Bob Watson on climate change,
http://discuss.worldbank.org/content/interview/detail/1531/