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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 08:25 GMT 09:25 UK
Climate 'key to African future'
By Helen Briggs
BBC News science reporter

African child (Tearfund)
The report comes ahead of the G8 meeting in Scotland
Efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa will fail unless urgent action is taken to halt climate change, a coalition of aid and environment groups claims.

The Working Group on Climate Change and Development says the G8 nations have so far failed to "join the dots" between climate change and Africa.

The group's concerns are echoed in a separate report from the UK's leading body of scientists, the Royal Society.

The leaders of the major industrial nations meet in Scotland On 6-8 July.

'Closer attention'

The Working Group on Climate Change and Development is an alliance of 21 UK-based charities and environment groups.

Their report, Africa: Up in Smoke? calls for deeper emission cuts in rich countries and for the G8 to make new funding available to help poor countries adapt to global warming.

Governments had to recognise that dealing with climate change was part of the answer of getting people out of poverty in Africa, said Sarah La Trobe, policy officer for climate change and disasters at the charity Tearfund.

"Efforts to reduce poverty in Africa are not going to work without attention to this issue," she told the BBC News website.

"Governments have to recognise that. They must make faster progress with countries that are suffering." The working group wants:

  • Rich countries to go far beyond their Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • An end to the exploitation of fossil fuels in Africa and help for local people to utilise sustainable and renewable energy
  • Increased support for small-scale agriculture
  • A flexible development approach to respond to climate change at a local level.

'Vulnerable' agriculture

The Royal Society is also calling for G8 leaders to commit to helping Africa cope with climate change.

New data suggests the impact of climate change on crop production on the continent will be more severe than previously thought.

In its report, Food Crops in a Changing Climate, based on discussions in April by experts on climate change and crop production, the UK science academy says Africa is predicted to be one of the worst hit areas of the world.

Professor Brian Hoskins, a fellow of the Royal Society and one of the organisers of the meeting, said: "The threat of climate change to an already vulnerable Africa cannot be underestimated.

"The changes in weather patterns which we expect to see, such as more extreme temperatures and changes in rainfall, have potentially disastrous consequences for a continent which relies so heavily on rain-fed agriculture."

The Royal Society says African scientists need to be trained and equipped in how to deal with the changing climate such as by collecting weather forecasting data that would allow farmers to take action to protect their crops.

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