Eighteen years ago when I first heard of Climate change, global warming, carbon emissions and all the other climate change terminologies, they felt like some scientific theories which were only imagination with some sort of fancy names. 10 years down the line, this discussion has moved from being just a theory to something real that’s affecting people, the environment and nature in general. I have equally had my own experiences in this regard. The discourse on climate change is important and relevant today and for the future.
According to the National Academies of Science Engineering Medicine, human activities have unquestionably influenced the earth to heat up – resulting in higher global surface temperatures. Research has confirmed that some climate change issues are irreversible and have dangerous, lasting effects; therefore, there is an urgent need for us to act now.
Enough Talk, More action
Climate change has and will continue to have significant impact on the world – with African countries being the most impacted. Africa is particularly affected due to inadequate access to infrastructure, financial resources, technology and technical capacity.
In particular, many African countries depend on rainfall patterns for farming, and this will have a direct impact on the viability of subsistence farming, increased competition for resources, famine, widening the inequality gap and poverty as identified by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In the Volta Basin of Ghana, for instance, drought and floods have become an annual phenomenon – causing massive destruction to lives and livelihoods.
Based on research, world leaders have come to the realisation that without strong policies, adaptive capacities and commitment, the effects of climate change have the potential to become unprecedented phenomena.
In an attempt to deal with the consequences of climate change, most African countries, including Ghana, signed and ratified the Paris Agreement after the COP21 convening in Paris, 2015. The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change.
As part of the process, countries are supposed to submit their climate action plans – which are known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and of which Ghana submitted its maiden one in 2016. Subsequently, with the existing 5-year cycle, Ghana updated and revised its NDCs prior to the COP26.
Six years later, world leaders gathered at the COP26 Conference held in Glasgow to discuss how to collectively address climate change issues. COP26 had become necessary due to urgency of the climate change crisis across the globe. Many people and the media have described this very important meeting as the ‘Last Chance to Save the Earth’ from climate change. This means that the just-ended COP26 should not just be mere talk; but rather, respective NDCs submitted should be followed through on a sustainable basis with clear and implementable strategies which will make this all-important meeting meaningful if not entirely successful.
Financing Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions
Ghana has always been in the lead among its peers in taking several development initiatives. In terms of revision processes of the NDCs owing to the 5 years review cycle, Ghana is considered one of the pioneers.
Ghana submitted and published its updated NDC (2020-2030) to the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat in accordance with Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, as well as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) decisions ahead of the COP26 meeting.
Ghana has developed 19 policy actions which translate into 34 mitigation and 13 adaptation programmes. These focus on seven key economic sectors – i.e. energy, forestry, agriculture, waste, industry, transport, and other land use.
The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, at the virtual launch of the NDC revision process stated that implementation of the 2016 NDC experienced several challenges due to inadequate funding, technological barriers and limited capacity among others.
Although there have been significant progress and achievements – like the US$54.5million fund received from the Green Climate Fund, the recent cooperation agreement signed with Switzerland – albeit there are still funding challenges which need to be addressed. Questions like: how do we find sustainable funding sources; how do we ensure transparency and accountability in the use of climate funds are still relevant and need to be answered for smooth implementation of Ghana’s climate change plans.
Quite a worrying factor is that adoption of all the mitigation programmes is hinged on the availability of funds. The minister stated that out of the 34 mitigation programmes, Ghana aims at implementing 9 unconditional programmes of action and will be able to adopt the additional 25 programmes of action if financial support is readily available. This means that a successful implementation of the updated NDC is subject to funds-availability.
Big ticket actions
- Adaptation financing should be increased, as this is critical to restoring livelihoods of the vulnerable and damage already caused. Although the Green Climate Fund has the crucial mandate to maintain an even balance between mitigation and adaptation of climate action plans by developing countries, the 2019 Climate Finance Landscapereport revealed that the majority of finance was invested toward mitigation activities. It is important to note that climate change adaptation should go hand-in-hand with mitigation plans.
- Climate financing should be discussed with a renewed emphasis on grant-based finance to reduce the debt burden on developing countries which are already struggling.
- Developed countries and the international community should commit and have a clear plan for raising funds to fully deliver on their pledge to mobilise US$100billion per year to address the needs of developing countries. This is crucial to prevent the shortfalls seen in previous years.
- Further, stringent transparency and accountability measures must be put place so as to ensure value for money per related funds that are secured.
Low hanging fruit
Looking beyond bigger interventions at the national level, I believe that citizens can also make little lifestyle changes to contribute in the climate change action.
The big plans are great and a must-do, but the little things can also save our earth. Let us commit as citizens to do basic things like: putting out lights when not in use; using a reusable cup at the water dispenser and avoiding use of disposable cups; use a water dispenser at home to reduce the use of plastic bottles/sachet water; reuse old items; stop cutting down trees; desist from illegal mining; protect our water-bodies; resort to clean cooking methods, among others.
Rachel is a Development Practitioner and Public Financial Management Specialist
Email: [email protected]