Global Problems, African Solutions: African Climate Scientists' Perspectives on Climate Change

Africa Initiative Discussion Paper No. 7

May 23, 2013

Climate change is a critical issue facing the world, and nowhere is it more deeply felt than throughout Africa — a continent contributing a small carbon footprint, but dealing with the consequences of others’ actions. African climate scientists offer a unique perspective on what is described as an “out of Africa” problem begging for “made in Africa” solutions.

In this paper, Lucie Edwards, instructor in environmental policy in the Political Science Department and a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo, speaks with Africa’s climate scientists, offering their words on the state of African climate science, the challenges of undertaking scientific research in Africa and how to improve it, the existing gaps in the current research agenda, the impacts of climate change on contemporary African society and impacts for the future, and the links between climate change and other environmental problems. She notes that while international conferences and groups, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, successfully identify the significance of climate change and concern for African leaders, they do little to initiate a practical action plan to address climate change. This paper recommends that African scientists be more involved with researchers on their own continent, instead of with European or North American scientists; more dialogue between scientists and African policy makers; and a broader program of public education so that African people may take practical action in the face of mounting climate change.

Part of Series

Africa Initiative Discussion Paper Series

The Africa Initiative Discussion Paper Series presents policy-relevant, peer-reviewed, field-based research that addresses substantive issues in the areas of conflict resolution, energy, food security, health, migration and climate change. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and advance knowledge on issues relevant to policy makers and opinion leaders in Africa. Papers in this series are written by experienced African and Canadian researchers, and have gone through the grant review process, or, in select cases, are commissioned studies supported by the Africa Initiative research program.

About the Author

Lucie Edwards is an instructor in environmental policy in the Political Science Department and a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of the Environment at the University of Waterloo.