Today Africa faces a multitude of development and sustainability challenges. Climate change is expected to exacerbate these challenges through its direct effects on people and the environment, as well as by imposing the need for measures to keep greenhouse gas emissions low and adapt to climate impacts. However, there remains a dearth of information with which to understand the nature of these risks for Africa and how best to tackle them. In this Insight we highlight some of the key ways that climate change might impact African wildlife and farming systems, and the interacting pressures on water, energy and food resources. The effects of air pollution on African climate are also considered, as is the uptake of available climate information by decision makers.