On the 28th of February 2022, the IPCC sent the world a wake up call in the form of a report that basically stated that the world was on a journey of self-destruction if more wasn’t done to fight against climate change.
Amongst this were ramifications that would see climate attributed loss and damages reaching unprecedented levels, with Africa being extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, we met with IPCC climate experts and journalists from across the continent on the 21st of April, to break down the IPCC working group II report and its implications for Africa. We also discussed how to amplify the message of this report across the continent.
We were honored to have Marlies Craig (Science officer with the IPCC working group II), Ethan Van Diemen (South African Journalist) and Andrew Okem (Science officer with the IPCC working group II) lead discussions on the implications of the IPCC report for Africa.
Marlies Criag began our discussions with some grim facts about the effects of climate change in Africa “The IPCC report finds that over 300 million people in Africa were affected by natural disasters over the last 20 years, 80% of these by floods and 16% by droughts. Over 40,000 people died with 30% of the number from floods and 40% from droughts. So it’s showing that floods affect more people but droughts are more deadly in general.”
She stated that these effects are more likely to increase with every bit of warming we experience, as Africa is a hotspot for the effects of climate change. She also shared that some of the biggest challenges for Africa would be how to develop, reduce poverty and hunger, improve well being, livelihoods, service delivery and grow economies in a sustainable way without making climate change worse by relying on fossil fuels.
Marlies also spoke about the importance of journalists in climate communication.
“Journalists are such an important link between the science of climate change and the people.”
Andrew Okem on the other hand took us through the IPCC Africa fact sheet which is a synthesis of the key messages in chapter 9 of the working group II report. The reason for his focus on the fact sheet was to help journalists navigate the findings of the IPCC working group II report specifically for Africa.
He also shared some key findings from the fact sheet. “The report tells us that Africa has experienced widespread loss and damages attributable to anthropogenic climate change. These include reduced food production, reduced economic output across the continent, there’s also evidence of loss of biodiversity and increased morbidity and mortality”
Andrew also took us through how to participate in the IPCC. He noted that as the sixth assessment cycle of the IPCC is coming to a close, there might be limited opportunity to participate in it. However, this is the perfect time to start preparing to participate in the seventh assessment. “The IPCC report is open to participation from anyone in various ways whether you are an academic or media personnel.”
Ethan Van Diemen spoke about the importance of contextualizing our stories. “I find it useful as a journalist to contextualize things in a way that informs how you report on this, especially when you realize that Africa as a region contributes the least in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and yet it suffers some of the worst impacts and is expected to experience more of these impacts sooner than the developed nations…”
He stated that if you really want to inspire action in others with your climate stories then you first of all need to care. “People ask me what they can do about climate change in their communities as individuals…the point is to spur positive action that has an impact and the easiest way to do that is definitely to care first. If you can get people to care and if you care enough yourself, you would find ways to do things in your local context.
Ethan also shared tips on how to amplify the message of the IPCC report.”There’s a number of things that people can do in relation to the report, what i like to do is to localize it…find whatever is noteworthy from the report, you also have to use news judgment and decide that if the right person reads this story it could spur on the type of action that could have a positive impact.
Our speakers had a lot to share about the IPCC report, however we have a collective task to learn more about the report and devise ways to amplify it within our various countries so our communities and governments can better understand and find ways through actions and policies to fight against the threat of climate change. Watch the full session for the in-depth tips shared by our speakers.
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