Rising seas threaten Africa's coastline -UN body

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JOHANNESBURG, Nov 9 (Reuters) Africa's coastal infrastructure faces increasing danger of erosion from rising sea levels caused by climate change, the head of the UN Environment Programme said.

Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP, told a news conference yesterday that port facilities, refineries and expensive private properties were already degrading as a result of global warming.

''By some projections of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), global warming could affect one-third of Africa's coastal infrastructure by the end of this century because we know that we are on a course of having sea levels rising between 20 and 60 centimetres this century,'' Steiner said.

He said the effects of global warming, such as melting glaciers, had been brought into focus by the IPCC, an associate body of the United Nations which evaluates climate change risks caused by human activities.

Scientists have said Africa will suffer most if the world fails to halt global warming, with parts of the poverty-stricken continent becoming uncultivable or uninhabitable.

In September, the British government's chief scientific adviser, David King, said climate change, if unchecked, would lead to worsening drought in Africa and flooding along much of its coast.

King said an additional 70 million Africans could be at risk of hunger by the 2080s as a result of global warming.

Steiner said the U.N. body would press for a low-carbon economy at a climate convention meeting to be held in Bali, Indonesia, next month.

UNEP co-hosted a conference in South Africa this week on the protection and development of the marine and coastal environment of sub-Saharan Africa.

Steiner said Africa at present was unable to monitor the effects of global warming on its own resources.

''Africa does not know what is happening in its environment.

Many of the cities in Africa do not even have pollution measurement instruments or programmes,'' Steiner said.

''The World Metrological Organisation has established that Africa has one-eighth of the minimum critical infrastructure that is needed to even monitor meteorological developments.'' REUTERS AM BD0840

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