Ghana and Africa’s vulnerability to climate change, which stems from heavy dependence on climate-sensitive sectors like hydropower, agriculture and forestry, means that the continent cannot continue to be sluggish in the fight against it.
According to the United Nations, no continent will be struck as severely by the impacts of climate change as Africa.
Africa’s geographical position, coupled with considerably limited adaptive capacity exacerbated by widespread poverty, makes it extremely vulnerable to climate change.
It is estimated that by 2020 between 75 and 250 million people on the continent will be exposed to increased water-stress due to climate change. In the same year in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent.
Additionally, global warming of 2˚C would put over 50 percent of the continent’s population at risk of undernourishment. Projections estimate that climate change will lead to an equivalent of 2 percent to 4 percent annual loss of GDP in the region by 2040. Assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2°C, the continent could face climate change adaptation costs of US$50billion per year by 2050.
However, a new development last week wherein eight cities, including Accra and Dar es Salaam, pledged to deliver their share of emissions-cuts needed to meet Paris Agreement targets to limit climate change gives hope for a brighter future.
The deal, which was also signed by Addis Ababa, Lagos, Dakar, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, means achieving ‘zero carbon city economies by 2050 – with climate changing emissions eliminated or dramatically reduced, and any small remaining emissions offset by other green actions.
“We cannot ignore the implications of what will befall us if we do not act now,” said Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra, at a planning meeting in Nigeria on urban climate action in Africa.
This requires proactive rather passive measures to cushion economies and livelihoods against this disturbing phenomenon.
If we can follow through with the provisions of this deal, and others like the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 13 which calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, we could avert the impending threats from climate change.
We therefore believe that the Accra Mayor, together with central government, should take immediate steps to mitigate against the threats of climate change.
This will require sweeping changes to how waste is managed and how human settlements are allowed and maintained.