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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: August 2009

2 - Climate Change and Land Use in Africa



Sub-Saharan Africa is facing a development crisis. The era of low-cost fossil fuel is coming to an end and with it “business as usual” development built on the bedrock of inexpensive fossil fuel. Simultaneously, climate change driven by fossil fuel use and other human activities is poised to threaten every aspect of human development in Africa, and all of Africa's ecosystems. Africa's contribution to increased green house gases (GHGs) has been minor, but the continent will nevertheless suffer significant adverse effects. This may be unfair, but it is unavoidable reality. However, climate change offers Africa enormous sustainable development opportunities. Successful exploitation of these opportunities, however, can be realized only if African legal systems are designed and those laws are implemented to take advantage of the opportunities. To do this, land use law in Africa must be examined through the lens of climate change, and then, using this new vision, be modified to advance Africa's sustainable development. This chapter first assesses the present world state of petroleum supply and economics and energy use patterns in sub-Saharan Africa. This analysis will reveal the reality that the century-long era of low-cost oil has come to an end and that developing countries can no longer approach development with the assumption that cheap energy will be available to drive the engine of development. The chapter then shifts to evaluating the potential impacts of climate change on Africa and how energy use intersects with the causes of global warming and the adaptation challenges warming will likely pose for sub-Saharan Africa.