Unlike the Kyoto Protocol that established legally binding emissions reduction targets, the Paris Agreement requires all countries — rich, poor, developed, and developing — to do their part and slash greenhouse gas emissions.
To that end, greater flexibility is built into the Paris Agreement: No language is included on the commitments countries should make, nations can voluntarily set their emissions targets (NDCs), and countries incur no penalties for falling short of their proposed targets.
What the Paris Agreement does require, however, is the monitoring, reporting and reassessing of individual and collective country targets over time, in an effort to move the world closer to broader objectives of the deal.
Highlighting the challenges posed by COVID-19 on the climate change agenda, Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana Ms. Silke Hollander observed that the response to the pandemic and green recovery efforts also present a window of opportunity to build back better and design bold and long-term climate actions.
Consistent with Article 4.9 of the Paris Agreement on successive updates every five years, Ghana is one of the pioneers to start its NDCs revision process.
The revision process falls under the NDC Support Programme, which has been UNDP’s primary mode of support for countries to support NDCs implementation readiness and institutional capacity.
Government, through the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), launched the revision process of Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to strengthen implementation of national priorities on climate change adaptation and mitigation to achieve low carbon development in the country.
The revision offers a good opportunity for Ghana to raise its ambition and integrate emerging policies into climate change actions at the national level of carbon development in the country. Research makes clear that the cost of climate inaction far outweighs the cost of reducing carbon pollution.
A worldwide failure to meet the NDCs currently laid out in the agreement could reduce global GDP by more than 25 percent by century’s end.
With the Paris Accord, leaders from around the world collectively agreed that climate change is driven by human behaviour; that it’s a threat to the environment and all of humanity; and that global action is needed to stop it.
Post COVID-19, the country needs to reassess its climate-altering pollution and strengthen the aforementioned commitments over time.