MEDIA STATEMENT — For Immediate Release

19 January 2017

Contact: Lerato Letebele, 350Africa Communications Coordinator,, +233 55 555 6057; Landry Ninteretse,, +254 772791967

In response to the World Meteorological Organization’s statement on the status of the global climate, which shows that 2016 has been the hottest year on record, issued the following statement:

“2016 was the year climate change took hold of the world more clearly than ever, with serious humanitarian and environmental consequences. No part of the world can now avoid the fact that climate change is striking harder and faster than many scientists predicted, and that its impacts are taking a higher toll on vulnerable communities.  As important as marking that the record is yet again broken, we need to loudly mark what needs to be done to hold back such destruction: we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. To make that clear, that means no new oil, coal or gas projects.

Elected representatives must heed this momentum – it won’t cost the earth to keep fossil fuels in the ground, but it will cost the earth if they are dug up.” said Aaron Packard, Climate Impacts Programme Coordinator.

Around the world, weather events such as storms, droughts, floods and wildfires are causing the loss of human lives, threatening the livelihoods of millions and the natural environment. In Africa, the Southern and Eastern parts remain the most impacted regions by the 2-year long drought of 2014-2016 and dominant El Nino events.  The below-average rainy seasons substantially crippled the rain-fed reliant agriculture system consequently negatively affecting food production.  Most African countries continue to be hit much harder due to their extreme vulnerability to climatic risks and high levels of poverty.

“The humanitarian costs from the climate crisis will see an increase in population migration, displacing millions across the region, leading to widespread violent conflicts.  African governments must collectively heed the call, intensifying strong leadership in climate actions that demonstrate commitments to meet 100% domestic renewable production by stopping all new fossil fuel developments,” emphasised Landry Ninteretse 350Africa Regional Team Leader.


Key climate impacts in 2016

  • NOAA declared 2016 as the second hottest year on record in the United States.- 15 weather and climate disasters caused 138 deaths, $46B in damages
  • According to WMO’s release, long-term indicators of human-caused climate change reached new heights in 2016, as carbon dioxide and methane concentrations surged to new records.
  • Last November, WMO published a provisional statement for 2016 to inform the United Nations Climate Change conference taking place in Marrakech, Morocco (COP22). The final statement will be released in early 2017. For the first time, the assessment considers the humanitarian impact. The following impacts are highlighted in the statement:
    • The most serious drought affected much of southern Africa.
    • Extreme heatwaves hit South Africa, and high temperatures set new national records in Kuwait, Iran, Thailand and India.
    • 24 million people have been reported as being in a situation of food insecurity as a consequence of the droughts in eastern Africa
    • The World Food Programme estimates that 17 million people will require assistance by early 2017, with the most-affected countries including Malawi, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar and Lesotho.
    • The Yangtze basin in China experienced, overall, its most significant flood season since 1999.
    • The most damaging wildfire in Canadian history broke out near Fort McMurray, in Alberta.
    • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that weather-related hazards triggered 14.7 million displacements in 2015, and no region of the world remained unaffected.
  • The Great Barrier Reef suffered the worst bleaching on record with 92% of coral being affected. Six months after bleaching scientists discover more than two-thirds of the northern section of the Reef is dead.