If climate targets are missed: Cameroon among African countries to face extreme temperatures.

Cameroon is among the African countries that will severely be affected by extreme temperatures if the world misses climate targets. These countries will experience the highest needs for cooling in a 2.0ºC scenario.

This was revealed by a new study by the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. A release issued recently, disclosed that the authors of the study, in their analysis, used the concept of “cooling degree days,” a method widely employed in research and weather forecasting to ascertain whether cooling would be needed on a particular day to keep populations comfortable. 

They modelled the world in 60 km grids every six hours to produce the temperature averages in the study, a process that makes the results some of the most reliable globally.

According to the global analysis, African countries not only had the highest cooling requirements historically, between 2009 and 2018, but will also face the highest surge in heat exposure if the planet warms by 2ºC. 

The most affected countries will be Cameroon, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan, Nigeria, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Uganda. 

The study, meanwhile, noted other countries that are not traditionally prepared for increasing heat will also be severely impacted by rising temperatures if climate targets are missed. 

“Eight of the ten countries with the greatest relative increase in uncomfortably hot days are expected to be in Northern Europe, with Canada and New Zealand completing the list. Switzerland, the UK and Norway will see an increase of 30% on days with uncomfortably hot temperatures,” the study disclosed.

The researchers stressed that this is a conservative estimate and does not consider extreme events like heatwaves, which would come on top of this average increase.


Further stress on Africa’s socio-economic dev’t, energy networks 

One of the authors of the study, Dr Radhika Khosla, Associate Professor at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and leader of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Cooling, said: “These conditions will pose further stress to the continent's socio-economic development and energy networks, issues that require much additional research given the limited studies of this rising threat in the African context”.

“It is also a clear indication that Africa is bearing the brunt of a problem they did not create, which should further strengthen calls for climate justice and equity,” Dr Radhika added.

He noted that: “Cooling demand can no longer be a blind spot in sustainability debates. “By 2050 the energy demand for cooling could be equal to all the electricity generated in 2016 by the US, EU and Japan combined. We have to focus now on ways to keep people cool in a sustainable way.”

On her part, Dr Nicole Miranda, Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford and member of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Cooling, said: “Our findings show that nations already facing heat waves and extreme temperatures, like those in the tropics will see a major increase in extreme temperatures if the global mean temperatures rise from 1.5ºC to 2.0ºC. This is particularly true for central African countries, with the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and Mali suffering the highest increase with more than 250 additional cooling degree days”.


Need for global solidarity to remain below 1.5ºC warming

Meanwhile, Dr Youba Sokona, Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said: “This research shows that no country – from Switzerland to the Central African Republic – is safe from climate change. It should remind us of the need for global solidarity and cooperation in efforts to remain below 1.5ºC warming”. 

“The extreme temperature increases predicted by this research also are evidence that cooling will soon no longer be a luxury but a necessity across Sub-Saharan Africa. Many African countries are now at an energy crossroads, and meeting increased energy demand for cooling will be a key challenge of sustainable development,” Dr Youba added. 

The Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Cooling investigates the future of cooling as a dynamic system, and examines its interlinkages across Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, in the developing and developed world. Its aim is to steer the system towards sustainable cooling for all, and to establish cooling as a global priority for the successful implementation of the SDGs.

It concentrates on space cooling (from air conditioning, fans, and other, non-energy-dependent passive cooling techniques), which is the largest energy consumer amongst the cooling sectors… 


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