The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published on Friday, seems likely to conclude that Africa is particularly vulnerable to global warming. Responses to climate change increasingly fall into two categories: the first urges cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions from the developed states; the second, dealing with the symptoms, urges greater support for Africa, the continent held to be most in need of external assistance. Assistance programmes for Africa under the internationally agreed ‘adaptation agenda’ are seen as essential to prevent the impact of climate change from undermining African development.
This essay questions the views of African development implicit in the ‘adaptation agenda’ and suggests that its implementation will institutionalise African poverty and dependency. Those who suggest that this agenda is empowering are not only patronising African people but also seeking to exploit African poverty to reinforce climate change advocacy in the West itself.