Climate Change in Africa

About the Author

Camilla Toulmin is Director of the International Institute for Environment & Development. An economist by training, she has worked mainly in Africa on social, economic, and environmental development. This has combined field research, policy analysis, capacity building and advocacy. Her work has aimed to understand how societies evolve to cope with changed circumstances, and to demonstrate the links between global and local levels.

Climate Change in Africa

Climate change is a major challenge for us all, but for African countries it represents a particular threat. This book outlines current thinking and evidence and the impact such change will have on Africa’s development prospects.

Global warming above the level of two degrees Celsius would be enormously damaging for poorer parts of the world, leading to crises with crops, livestock, water supplies and coastal areas. Within Africa, it’s likely to be the continent’s poorest people who are hit hardest. In this accessible and authoritative introduction to an often-overlooked aspect of the environment, Camilla Toulmin uses case studies to look at issues ranging from natural disasters to biofuels, and from conflict to the oil industry. Finally, the book addresses what future there might be for Africa in a carbon-constrained world.


‘Climate Change in Africa is an authoritative, accurate and insightful analysis of what the global challenge of climate change means for the continent. An essential guide to the mind-boggling climate-related issues considered from an African perspective.’ – Youba Sokona, Secrétaire Exécutif, Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS)

‘Camilla Toulmin combines a deep and nuanced knowledge of African society with a profound grasp of the impact of climate change on that continent. Covering both threats and opportunities, she shows how, for good or ill, climate change will be a new and critical driver in the next phase of African development. In the run up to the Copenhagen climate summit, this book should be required reading for anyone wishing to get to grips with the multiple interconnections between climate change and development in the world’s poorest continent.’ – Duncan Green, Head of Research, Oxfam

‘Speaking about global warming, who really thinks of Africa? Read Toulmin’s book to fully grasp the double injustice of our time: Africa, though without any responsibility for climate change, will dramatically suffer; and yet, the innocent victim is not given much voice at the ongoing climate negotiations.’ – Wolfgang Sachs, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy

‘Climate change is already having profound effects in Africa, from the devastating floods of 2007 to wars which are already breaking out over land and water, as people start to move. And this is on the basis of world temperature changes which are small relative to those we risk if we carry on for much longer as we are. Of all the continents , Africa is least responible for these changes. Camilla Toulmin with her long experience of working in rural Africa, her scholarship and her leadership of the IIED, is especially qualified to analyse and explain the issues and to point to the policies which the world must follow. This is a very clear, reasoned and thoughtful book which will be of great importance in the crucial discussions which lie ahead’ – Lord Nicholas Stern

‘Climate change justice is important for Africa because she has emitted a relatively negligible amount of carbon in the last 200 years of industrialization, and yet scientists say she will be among the countries hardest hit by climate change. Climate change will have devastating impacts for millions of people worldwide, particularly the poor. This new book takes a timely look into the policies, politics and roles different actors in society need adopt to effectively address climate change.’ – Wangari Maathai, August 2009, 2004 Nobel peace prize winner

‘Climate Change in Africa carries a strong message: …..are we going to design a world that preserves the way of life of the rich or addresses the urgent needs of the poor…. Predictions are that Africa faces serious challenges given the expected climate change impacts and the message of Toulmin’s book is that effective adaptation policies and strategies are urgently needed in order to prevent large scale loss of income and livelihoods. In her book, Toulmin calls for a stronger voice for Africa in climate change debates and argues that energy security of the rich can not come at a price of loss of food security for the poor.’ – Yda Schreuder, author of ‘The Corporate Greenhouse’