The fourth in the monthly Public Lecture series of EAS was held under the title, ‘Climate Change in Ethiopia: what does living with 2oC more warming mean?’ Prof. Woldeamlak Bewket, Fellow of EAS and Dean of the Social Science College at Addis Ababa University (AAU), delivered the Lecture on Thursday, 31 December 2015 at the Auditorium of Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAiT), AAU. Dr.Taye Assefa, Founding Fellow and Chairman of the Social Science Working Group of EAS, chaired the Public Lecture.
The focus of the presentation was on Ethiopia’s vulnerability to climate change in a global context.
Prof. Woldeamlak indicated that mapping of vulnerability to climate change in Africa often puts Ethiopia as one of the most vulnerable countries. This is not surprising, according to Prof. Woldeamlak, and the reasons are obvious: the majority of Ethiopia’s population is dependent on small-scale, rain fed agriculture, institutions are weak, infrastructure is poorly developed, poverty is widespread, human capital is underdeveloped, and vast land area is sensitive to small ecological disturbance.
According to Prof. Woldeamlak, there is now almost complete consensus that the ongoing climate change is primarily anthropogenic (human-induced), mainly due to global warming caused by the use of fossil fuels. The latest evidence compiled by the Inter-Governmental Panel (IPCC) on Climate Change indicates that global average temperature has already increased by 0.85oC from pre-industrial levels. The historic Paris Agreement made by 195 nations on 12 December 2015 is expected to keep the rise in global temperature “well below 20C to the end of the century, and “to make efforts to limit the temperature increase even down to 1.50C above pre-industrial levels”. This has been applauded at top political levels as a great success.
In Ethiopia, trend studies show that mean annual temperature has already increased by up to 1.30C since the 1960s, which is larger than the global average increase since the industrial revolution.
Moreover, substantiating his argument Prof. Woldeamlaklisted impacts of climate variability and extremes in Ethiopia:about 7.8 million drought-affected people in the 1980s with estimated deaths of over 300,000; 13.2 million people were affected in 2002/03, with no reported cases of death, and the current drought has affected well over 10 million people, and thus far there are no reported cases of deaths. Studies indicate that the probability of drought occurring in any given year is over 40% for most parts of the country.
Prof. Woldeamlak also pointed out the efforts that are being undertaken by the Government in laying down the foundations to build a climate-resilient green economy. However, he underscored that translating the vision into action remains to be a real challenge, and overcoming the challenge requires involvement of all stakeholders.
The presentation inspired the audience to participate in two-rounds of question and answer sessions.
More than 250 individuals drawn, from government and non-government offices, academics working in Addis Ababa University and research institutions, university students, school teachers and students, Fellows of EAS and EtYAS, and members of the general public, attended the Public Lecture.