Molyko, Southwest Region - Buea, Cameroon


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Public Policy and Climate Change in Cameroon; case study of Buea Municipality

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Climate change is a problem that resulted from the emission of greenhouse gases that affect our environment therefore it raises questions whether the problem is caused by human activities or it’s just a part of nature’s cycle. this work discusses the impact of climate change on agriculture in the Buea municipality, how climate change affects aquatic systems and how long-term approaches should be recommended to maintain the adaptive mechanisms making use of the Herbert Simon 1947 and the Ricardian theory. The analysis of data is facilitated by questionnaire administer and interview which is suggested by correspondents that afforestation should be encouraged alongside an integrated approach of climate change policy with other inter related national policies that gives reasons for further research on this area to be carried out.




Climate change poses the most intractable questions about our future and the role of public policy. It has been described as ‘a truly complex and diabolical policy problem’ (Steffen 2011; cf. Garnaut 2008). In the words of the Stern Review (2007: 25) climate change is a new risk that is ‘big, global, long-term, persistent and uncertain’. Together these five descriptors make it a threat unique from any other. It thus poses an utterly novel challenge for public policymaking. According to Giddens et al (2009: 14), current presentations of the climate change ‘threat’ come across as ‘both overwhelming and existential, yet at the same time unspecific and distant’ – a baffling combination to address. This work addresses just a few of the issues posed by climate change for thinking about public policy futures. Many big issues are left to one side. Most ethical and normative perspectives and arguments are not directly addressed, including intergenerational justice and its links with other conceptions of social justice, and the relationship between sustainability, development and well-being (though these do crop up). Moreover, all other aspects of environmental policy are discussed, including air and water pollution, waste management, biodiversity protection, and the protection of natural resources, wildlife and endangered species. This piece of work concentrates solely on climate change or global warming, given general agreement that it poses the most egregious challenge to the sustainability of the planet’s natural resources and of contemporary economic and social systems. Though some argue the loss of biodiversity and the breakdown of the nitrogen cycle are equally urgent and menacing (Rockstrom et al 2009). Most models predict substantially greater direct negative impacts on habitats and livelihoods in tropical and subtropical regions, which are also in general poorer than the temperate zones and bear little responsibility for the historic accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, a double injustice. Emissions in a third zone, the fast-rising capitalist economies of Cameroon, are escalating from a moderate level. These patterns give rise to profound issues in global governance, which this write up also sights. The international governance of climate change comprises a plethora of relatively uncoordinated institutions, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Global Environmental Facility (Held and Hervey 2011). Suffice it to say that the former hit a brick wall in Copenhagen in December 2009 and that the way forward is as yet unclear. But this paper only considers the impact of climate change on public policymaking in Cameroon. To anticipate, climate change is already setting severe constraints on policymaking. The Cameroon government is said to have adopted the world’s most demanding and legally binding targets to reduce CO2 and other Greenhouse gases. The Climate Change Act 2008 commits Cameroon to reduce Green House Gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 and by at least 34% by 2023, compared with the base year of 1990. Furthermore, it has set three intermediate carbon budgets of an average of 604 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2008-12, 556 Mt CO2e in 2013-17 and 509 MtCO2e in 2018-22, and in May 2011 the coalition government committed Cameroon to the radical reduction targets for the fourth Budget period 2023-27. These commitments have radical implications for public policy.

When discussing climate change caused by human activity in the context of the public sector, it needs to be emphasized right from the start that its root cause is a fundamental market failure. The resource-depleting economic activity of mankind since the onset of the industrial revolution has been based on the market

mechanisms of the capitalist mode of production that fails to take into account the true cost of using natural resources. Public services have a central role to play in correcting this market failure. This does not automatically mean that the state (at local, national or supranational levels) needs to or can intervene directly. Instead, there is a need for a comprehensive policy mix that includes a strong regulatory framework in the form of performance targets, standards, fees and penalties, but also mechanisms that influence market actors, such as taxes, incentives and subsidies. Public investment should play a central role in both mitigation (efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases) and adaptation efforts The public sphere has a central role in shaping the whole process of paradigm change, from a resource-depleting fossil fuel-based production model towards a zero-carbon sustainable economy. But a major factor presenting an obstacle for greater public- sector involvement, in climate change mitigation or adaptation, is the fundamentally changed macroeconomic environment since the onset of the financial crisis. Seven years of austerity, hitting public services hard, have created an environment in which climate policy initiatives have been pushed into the background, progress has been reversed in many fields and new conflicts have emerged. These conflicts appear in financing, burden sharing (among the main income holders such as the state, households and the business sphere, but also between different levels of governance, including central/federal, regional and local) and in social and labor issues. The collapse in both public and private sector investment – particularly in clean technology and energy is one of the most visible negative consequences of this. As a result of austerity, public investments in clean energy, infrastructure, and urban and rural development have clearly suffered deeply. Municipalities’ finances have suffered even more than national public finances (even in countries where austerity has not been widespread, such as Germany). This development is in sharp contrast with the pronounced objectives of the European Union Investment Plan (although the latter can at least be seen as a sign of hope and potential). Given the tight finances and resources at state level, and in particular at municipal level, public authorities often have no other option than to involve private capital. These forced private-public partnerships often end up using greater resources and increasing the cost to the public purse. This basic contradiction between the need for investment and tight public finances will be one of the major constraints for public policy in the context of climate change adaptation and prevention.

Around three quarters of Cameroon’s population lives in urban areas and expert projections observe (World Bank 2010) that up to 80% of adaptation costs will emerge in cities. Water security, water distribution, storm and water run-off management will be key issues for public services. Buildings face major risks of damage from the projected impacts of climate change due to more frequent weather extremes, storms, winds and heavy rain. Under business-as-usual projections, the global use of energy in buildings could double or even triple by 2050. Public services therefore also need to focus on energy generation, distribution and efficiency. The main areas of public policy that will be affected by climate change and adaptation are: central and local government, social services, education, healthcare, public utilities (such as energy, water and waste management), public transport, disaster management, and emergency services (e.g. firefighters). The public sector has a key role in climate change mitigation and adaptation policy and implementation. This role includes public investment, public procurement, managing the energy transformation where public utilities have an important role, and dealing with flood defenses and water management.


There is a strong scientific consensus that global warming is happening, that it is largely man-made, that it is global, cumulative and potentially destructive, and that it will have to be brought under control sooner or later if disaster is to be avoided. The science of climate change, and the extent of agreement versus debate on its various aspects, is presented in numerous places (see, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007), Stern (2007) and the Royal Society (2010)). To quote summaries from a report of the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), ‘It is close to certain that increasing atmospheric concentrations of Green House Gases since the industrial revolution are due to human activity. It is close to certain that the planet has warmed since the late 19th century … There is a high degree of confidence that human emissions have caused most of the observed warming since the mid-20th century’ (CCC 2010: 54-59). Looking to the future it concludes ‘precise scientific projections are uncertain, but they are the best evidence on which to base policy. Current evidence points to major potential impacts on human welfare and ecological systems if efforts are not made to curb emissions’ (CCC 2010: 62).

A critical issue in shaping global carbon targets is the relationship between future stabilization levels of CO2 and other warming gases (expressed as parts per million of CO2 equivalent) and likely global temperature increase. The Hadley estimate shows that if CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) reaches 550 parts per million (ppm), then global temperatures are likely to rise by between 2.40C and 5.30C above pre-industrial levels. The current global level of CO2e is 430ppm and it is rising by about 25ppm a decade. Yet the Stern Review used a stabilization target of 550ppm which entailed a mean global temperature rise of around 40C, now recognized as dangerously high. The consensus view on desirable global emissions has hardened in the last few years. Lenton et al (2008) argue that the Greenland ice sheet could melt if regional temperatures rise by around 30C. And Stem (in Kaul et al 2009: 136) writes: Five degrees is absolutely enormous.

However, arguments are now mounting that this is still too risky a goal. Meinshausen et al (2009) stress that the total stock of emissions matters more than the final stabilization target. Cameroon needs international assistance to support adaptation in the context of national planning for sustainable development, more capacity-building and transfer of technology and funds. Systematic planning and capacity-building are also needed to reduce the risk of disasters and raise the resilience of communities to increasing extreme events such as droughts, floods and tropical cyclones. Funding for adaptation in developing countries like Cameroon must be sufficient and sustained. Least developed countries (LDCs) like Cameroon and small island developing States (SIDS) in particular need special consideration due to their extreme vulnerability.

Cameroon has very different individual circumstances and the specific impacts of climate change on a country depends on the climate it experiences as well as its geographical, social, cultural, economic and political situations. As a result, Cameroon requires a diversity of adaptation measures very much depending on individual circumstances. However there are cross cutting issues which apply across the national territory and regions such as Amount of rain fall has significantly reduced, Long droughts which has caused rivers in Buea municipality to dry up and thus reduce food yields, Environmental temperatures have increased since most trees have been cut down thus causing the Buea municipality to be very hot, There are lots of vehicles in Buea municipality which has caused a drastic increase in carbon dioxide emission.

The same sectors are affected by climate change, all beit to differing degrees. These main sectors include: agriculture, water resources, human health, terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity and coastal zones.

Although knowledge of how best to do adaptation of policies is still in its infancy, the Policy makers are increasing their support for action on adaptation. This includes the development of national adaptation programs by some developing countries including least developed countries, and their integration into national strategies. Public policy and Climate change solutions need to identify and exploit synergy, as well as seek to balance trade-offs, among the multiple objectives of sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and adaptation policies. Such initiatives also require new and sustained funding sources.

The Final justification looks forward to give an indication of possible next steps for adaptation, including within a future climate regime beyond 2012, in addressing adaptation options for the threats posed by climate change.


The study is guided by the following research questions;

  1. What is the impact of climate variability on agricultural profitability?

  2. Which policies and conditions (taxes, subsidies and regulation) are necessary to minimize the negative impact of climate change?

  3. What long-term approaches should be recommended to maintain the adaptive mechanisms?

The objectives of the study comprise the general and specific objective

  • General Research Objectives

The general objectives of this study is to assess public policy and climate change in Buea municipality and adaptive mechanisms

  • Specific Research Objectives

In specific terms, the study seeks to;

  1. Identify the impact of climate change on agriculture in the Buea municipality,

  2. Asses how climate change affects aquatic system

  3. Evaluate how long-term approaches should be recommended to maintain the adaptive mechanisms?

Research Hypothesis

H1: Climate change has an impact on agriculture in the Buea municipality

H0: Climate change does not have an impact on agriculture in the Buea municipality

H2: Climate change has an effect on aquatic systems

H0: Climate change does not have an effect on aquatic systems

H3: long term approaches should be recommended to maintain the adaptive mechanisms

H0: long term approaches should not be recommended to maintain the adaptive mechanisms



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