Climate Change

The snows of Kilimanjaro could vanish by 2040 due to climate change: Report

By 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor people in Africa will be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Wednesday 20 October 2021
An elephant grazes in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. Photo: istock__

The snow atop Mount Kilimanjaro, immortalised in literature and film, could vanish in the next two decades due to climate change, according to a report released October 19, 2021.

Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, lies on the Equator. Its summit is, however, snowbound throughout the year.

The snow atop Kilimanjaro was the subject of a short story by author Ernest Hemmingway as well as a Hollywood movie starring Gregory Peck.

The snow atop other peaks in tropical east Africa such as Mt Kenya, after which the country of Kenya is named as well as the Ruwenzori mountains in Uganda could also disappear, the State of the Climate in Africa 2020 said.

The snow on Mt Kenya, the second-highest peak in Africa after Kilimanjaro, could disappear as soon as 2030, according to the report.

It will be one of the first peaks in the world to lose its glaciers to anthropogenic climate change, the report warned.

The report was released during the ongoing World Meteorological Congress.  It is second in the series on the continent following State of the Climate in Africa 2019.

Petteri Taalas, secretary-general, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in his foreword for the report, said:

The rapid shrinking of the last remaining glaciers in eastern Africa, which are expected to melt entirely in the near future, signals the threat of imminent and irreversible change to the Earth system.

Africa, a victim

Africa has been victim of increased weather and climate variability, the report said. This has led to high-impact disasters which had disrupted the continent’s economic, ecological and social systems.

The continent has surpassed the world on worrying indicators, according to the report.

It has warmed faster than the global average temperature over land and ocean combined. The period 1991-2020 was warmer than for the 1961-1990 period in all African sub regions. It was significantly higher than the warming during 1931-1960.

The year 2020 ranked between the third and eighth warmest year on record for Africa according to the report. These findings resonate with those of IPCC’s most recent assessment.

The rates of sea-level rise along the tropical and South Atlantic coasts and Indian Ocean coast are higher than the global mean rate, at approximately 3.6 mm / yr and 4.1 mm / yr, respectively, the report noted.

Food insecurity across Africa worsened due to climate change, locust invasions and COVID-19 in 2020. The number of Africans affected by food insecurity jumped 40 per cent in 2020, in comparison to 2019.

At least one out of every tenth person displaced in 2020 was in the East and Horn of Africa region.

Between January and June 2020, the region had over 1.2 million new disaster-related displacements, the report said, citing the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

Floods and storms contributed the most to internal disaster-related displacement, followed by droughts. Sudan and Kenya were the worst-affected by devastating floods.

Drought in Madagascar triggered a humanitarian crisis, even as many parts of east Africa were affected by extensive flooding.

There is worse. By 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor people on the continent will be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat. This will affect progress towards poverty alleviation and growth, according to the report.

The report said sub-Saharan Africa will have to invest between $30 billion-$50 billion each year over the next decade for adapting to climate change. This will amount to approximately two to three per cent of gross domestic product.

The report has been jointly published by the WMO, the African Union Commission and the Economic Commission for Africa through the Africa Climate Policy Centre, international and regional scientific organizations and United Nations agencies.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.