FALSE: Africa’s Great Green Wall is not because of carbon dioxide

The wall is an 8,000km belt of trees planted to restore land degraded by desertification.


Claims that Africa’s Great Green Wall is due to carbon dioxide are FALSE.

Various tweets, here and here, alleged that the wall is due to carbon dioxide (C02). The tweets were in response to climate activist Mike Hudema’s tweet about the African Great Green Wall project.

“The increased green wall in Africa is down to C02 levels being slightly up,” tweeted Essexcarpangler.

“The increased atmospheric CO2 is primarily responsible for the greening of these arid lands,” tweeted Edward Kallio.

However, the claim that the green wall is due to carbon dioxide is not true.

The Great Green Wall is a project initiated by the African Union in 2007. The project aims to plant a belt of trees of 8,000km across 22 African countries, predominantly in the Sahel region but also in North Africa.

The wall is an attempt to combat desertification and climate change, create jobs and increase food security. It aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land and sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon.

Outline of the Great Green Wall project. (Credit: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation)

In 2021 the project was augmented by €17.5 billion to accelerate the project up to 2025. The project has stalled since inception, with only 4 to 20 per cent of the required trees planted in 2022.

Research has found that the Sahara has grown by 8 per cent between 1950 and 2015, which amounts to a 100km shift southwards. Another study found this expansion to be 10 per cent, based on the longer time range of 1920–2013, and that climate change was partly to blame for the increase.

The Sahel region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. The area, particularly Somalia, is facing droughts worsened by global warming.

PesaCheck has examined a claim that Africa’s Great Green Wall is because of carbon dioxide and finds it to be FALSE.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

%d bloggers like this: