IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

9.4.8 Settlements, industry and infrastructure

Climate variability, including extreme events such as storms, floods and sustained droughts, already has marked impacts on settlements and infrastructure (Freeman and Warner, 2001; Mirza, 2003; Niasse et al., 2004; Reason and Keibel, 2004). Indeed, for urban planners, the biggest threats to localised population concentrations posed by climate variability and change are often expected to be from little-characterised and unpredictable rapid-onset disasters such as storm surges, flash floods and tropical cyclones (Freeman, 2003). Negative impacts of climate change could create a new set of refugees, who may migrate into new settlements, seek new livelihoods and place additional demands on infrastructure (Myers, 2002; McLeman and Smit, 2005). A variety of migration patterns could thus emerge, e.g., repetitive migrants (as part of ongoing adaptation to climate change) and short-term shock migrants (responding to a particular climate event). However, few detailed assessments of such impacts using climate as a driving factor have been undertaken for Africa.

In summary, a range of possible impacts of climate change has been discussed in this section (for other summaries, see Epstein and Mills, 2005; Nkomo et al., 2006). The roles of some other stresses that may compound climate-induced changes have also been considered. Clearly, several areas require much more detailed investigation (particularly in the energy, tourism, settlement and infrastructure sectors). Despite the uncertainty of the science and the huge complexity of the range of issues outlined, initial assessments show that several regions in Africa may be affected by different impacts of climate change (Figure 9.5). Such impacts, it is argued here, may further constrain development and the attainment of the MDGs in Africa. Adaptive capacity and adaptation thus emerge as critical areas for consideration on the continent.

Figure 9.5

Figure 9.5. Examples of current and possible future impacts and vulnerabilities associated with climate variability and climate change for Africa (for details see sections highlighted in bold). Note that these are indications of possible change and are based on models that currently have recognised limitations.