African countries face “economic devastation” from climate change, an aid agency has warned as it reveals the scale of the hit from rising temperatures on the continent.
A study published by Christian Aid warns under current climate policies, which put the world on track for 2.7C of global warming by the end of the century, African countries face an average 20% hit to their expected GDP by 2050.
That figure could rise to a 64% hit to GDP by 2100, according to the study, launched on finance day at the Cop27 talks in Sharm El-Sheikh where finance for poor countries hit by climate impacts is a key demand from many nations.
Even if countries meet their commitments to curb temperature rises to 1.5C, as they have pledged to do in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the economic hit for African nations could average 14% in 2050 and 34% in 2100.
Christian Aid said the findings showed the need for a mechanism to pay for climate loss and damages suffered by developing countries who have done least to contribute to climate change but are on the front line of its impacts.
That loss and damage facility – a key ask of the Cop27 talks – will be needed even if temperatures are limited to 1.5C, the charity said.
It should be based on the “polluter pays” principle, so rich countries who caused the problem pay into it, it should be new and additional to existing aid and climate finance, and the money should be public and grant based.
The economies of African countries are still expected to be higher in 2050 and 2100 than they are today.
But the report. which looks at 50 out of 54 of the continent’s nations, compares the damage done to their GDP by climate change, compared to what would happen in a world without rising temperatures.
Christian Aid warns that African countries are already suffering a reversal in development gains since Covid-19, which are exacerbated by climate impacts such as drought in the Horn of Africa.
The country set to be hardest hit is Sudan, which already this year had one of its worst rainy seasons with heavy rains and flash floods affecting more than 258,000 people.
Eight countries face GDP hits of more than 25% by 2050 and 75% by 2100 under current policies, compared to a world without climate change: Sudan, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti and Nigeria, it said.
Oliver Pearce, report author from Christian Aid, said: “These findings are stark and deserve to act as a wake up call to leaders of all countries about the economic devastation African countries face unless we put the brakes on our rising emissions.
“However even if we limit global heating to 1.5C this report shows that African nations will still suffer substantial economic harm, underlining the need for much greater financial support for people who face permanent harm from climate change.
“It’s why at Cop27 in Egypt we need to see much greater adaptation finance for vulnerable countries and a fund to compensate communities for loss and damage due to climate change they did not cause.”
Marina Andrijevic, an economist at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, who contributed to the study, said it only looked at the impacts of temperature rise, with added damage from extreme weather events potentially making the economic outlook even worse.
“This analysis shows the huge drag that climate change will be on the economic development of Africa.
“African countries face a number of challenges and the climate crisis poses a major threat to their ability to sustainably develop their economies,” she said.