Global warming poses great risk to fishing in Tana River, study reveals

Stop global warming before it's too late.

About two million Kenyans depend on fishing.

Many species within Kenya's Tana River Basin will be unable to survive if global temperatures continue to rise as they are on track to do according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE today outlines how remaining within the goals of the Paris Agreement would save many species.

To tackle climate change and its negative impacts, 196 countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the Conference of Parties 21 in Paris on 12 December 2015.

Entered into force less than a year later, the deal aims to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius.

The research titled "Addressing risks to biodiversity arising from a changing climate: the need for ecosystem restoration in the Tana River Basin, Kenya," identifies places that could be restored to better protect biodiversity and contribute towards global ecosystem restoration targets.

Researcher Rhosanna Jenkins carried out the study as part of her Ph.D. at UEA's School of Environmental Sciences.

She said: "This research shows how many species within Kenya's Tana River Basin will be unable to survive if global temperatures continue to rise as they are on track to do.

But remaining within the goals of the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global warming well below 2°C, ideally at 1.5°C, would save many species. This is because large areas of the basin act as refugia from climate change."

"With higher warming levels, not only are the refuges lost but also the potential for restoration becomes more limited," revealed Jenkins.

The United Nations declared the 2020s as the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. "Our results show the importance of considering climate change within these restoration efforts," the report read in part.

In regards to efforts put to try and save the various species Jenkins revealed: "With higher levels of warming, many of the species you are trying to restore will no longer be able to survive in the places they were originally found.

"Strong commitments from global leaders ahead of the COP climate change summit in Glasgow are needed to stand any chance of avoiding the loss of species—which for the Tana River Basin is clearly indicated by this work."

Some time in the 2030s, it is projected, the global average temperature will have increased from pre-industrial levels by 1.5°C.

For Kenya to avoid the multi-year droughts, severe heatwaves and extreme weather events expected to accompany this change, greenhouse gas emissions need to be radically reduced and soon.


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