Politecnico di Milano: Climate Change Mitigation And African River Basins

The climate change mitigation strategies currently adopted in developed or developing countries rely on carbon taxation to achieve rapid reductions in CO2 emissions. However, the implementation of such policies does not take into account the potential harmful side effects for the Water-Energy-Food nexus at the local level, according to a study conducted by the research group of the Environmental Intelligence for Global Change Lab of the Politecnico di Milano, in collaboration with Tufts University, Cornell University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The research, published in Nature Climate Change, focuses in particular on the negative consequences these strategies may have on African river basins, using the Zambezi River as an example, and analyses more than 7000 future scenarios combining different projections of climate change, socio-economic change and mitigation policies. The results show how such policies may cause the proliferation of large agricultural expansion projects in African countries where land use change is not taxed. This rapid increase in agricultural land use could generate local increases in demand for irrigation water that could limit the availability of water resources for hydropower generation or the provision of ecosystem services, particularly in river deltas.

The research highlighted the importance of combining global climate change mitigation policies with the dynamics occurring at the local level on the Water-Energy-Food nexus, with the aim of improving the analysis of possible future scenarios and providing policy makers with more effective support in choosing climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.

This study is an important step towards achieving a better understanding of the impacts of global policies on the local scale and calls for a collective effort aiming to identify more sustainable and equitable climate change mitigation policies

says Matteo Giuliani, researcher at the Environmental Intelligence Lab of the Politecnico di Milano and first author of the study.

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