Environmental promotion organisation, A Rocha Ghana is making a case for African government to step up efforts towards the fight of climate change in the bid to support global efforts.
According to the organisation, the latest report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown that global temperatures will continue to rise and weather extremes would become more intense if there is no radical and immediate action to cut our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
It said the reports paints a bleak picture and the threat to humans and the Earth is imminent.
The Global Outlook
The overriding message in the report is that things will get worse before it gets better. It is now irrefutable that the unprecedented warming of the world since industrialisation has been caused by GHGs from human activities.
They are also the main drivers of changes such as increased global precipitation, shrinking glaciers and ice sheets, sea level rise, and ocean warming and acidification. The increased frequency and intensity of rainfall, floods, droughts, storms, and heatwaves are also all down to our own activities.
The report noted the increasing pace of sea level rise – reaching an average 3.7 mm yr-1 for 2006-2018 – will continue for 100s to 1000s of years as the warmer temperatures continue melting glaciers and ice sheets. Other changes are also locked in for decades due to emissions that have already happened.
Using five levels of GHG emission scenarios to model how the climate system will react, the report explains how the impacts get bigger as the emissions increase. While 2oC global warming is extremely unlikely by the end of the century under the low emissions scenarios, it is very likely within just 20-40 years under the very high GHG emissions scenario. Sea level rise under very low emissions will be half the rise projected for very high levels.
Therefore, there is the need for a radical and immediate step-up in action on GHG emissions to ensure the worst-case scenarios never happen.
Reaching net zero for human-caused CO2 emissions – where their production is balanced by their removal – is urgent to stabilize human-induced global temperature rise.
Human-made techniques for removing CO2 from the atmosphere have been developed, but they have wide impacts on water availability and quality, food production and biodiversity. We must avoid them at all cost and reach net zero through real and fast GHG emissions reductions and increased natural carbon sinks, the report noted.
The report further noted that, impacts identified specifically for Africa include increased monsoon rains for West Africa over the mid- to long-term, and delays in both their onset and retreat. Frequencies and intensities of rainfall and flooding will increase over most of Africa and Asia even at a 1.5oC rise in temperature.
With a 2oC rise, droughts will be more severe and frequent across many regions of Africa, South America and Europe. These temperature rises are almost certain to happen soon – at 1.5oC by 2021-2040 and 2oC by 2041-2060 – under the high GHG emissions scenarios.
Urban and rural areas will need to adapt. As the protectors of food security and biodiversity, farmers and rural communities need urgent specific support for adaptation and resilience building to cope with the changes.
Therefor there needs to be deliberate policy and investment drive to increase direct public and private funding for community-based adaptation mechanisms. The Green Recovery Action Plans and the African Green Stimulus Programme are timely continental initiatives that cannot be undermined and that should rally African Countries for a well-coordinated green recovery and low emissions development pathway.
Taking Action in Ghana
A Rocha has intimated that, action by Ghana is also critical to the overall global action. There is the need to prioritize mitigation and adaptation mechanisms more than ever; and also to ensure all investments, public and private, prioritize and enhance our adaptive capacity and help build resilience at levels of our governance and socio-economic development sectors.
Government must do far more to protect and strengthen Ghana’s safety nets such as food sovereignty, forests and protected areas, natural water resources and biodiversity. Current national and decentralized processes to integrate climate action within our Nationally Determined Contributions and Medium-Term Development Plans are great and should prioritize investments and implementation beyond planning and excellent documentation. The national processes should endeavour to align biodiversity conservation as a crucial imperative, A Rocha noted.
Farmers need support from government and others to adapt and build resilience to climate change through training in sustainable agriculture, and access to seeds, equipment, services and other inputs. Urban, rural and coastal areas need protection from threats of flooding, storms and sea level rise.
A critical action must be to stop all developments on floodplains and areas that protect coastal communities from storm surges, and more crucially, prioritize security for all mangrove ecosystems in Ghana. Ghana’s forests must also be protected.