“There will certainly be climate change. Many countries will be adversely affected in the near
future, and nearly all countries will be affected in the next 30 years.”Mark Maslin, Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction
Climate change adaptation
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believes there are various reasons why we must adapt to climate change; one of which is that it cannot be avoided and therefore the need to live in anticipation, and with precaution, adapt to the changes. In their view, it is more effective and less costly as compared to forced last-minute emergency fixes where huge sums of money would be needed. They argue that climate change may be more rapid and more pronounced than current estimates have suggested, and unexpected and extreme events are likely to occur therefore, immediate benefits can be gained from better adaptation to climate variability and extreme atmospheric events. I think of climate adaptation as the modification of lifestyles to become properly adjusted to these climatic changes. But how far can we go when nature springs up its surprises on us? How can we adapt to these changes, really? Personally, I’d rather engage in mitigation methods to make the impact of climate change less severe or less painful should it occur. But that’s just me, my understanding of the word “adaptation” is definitely not as used by the IPCC. Let’s, therefore, take a dive into one adaptation strategy proposed by the IPCC that really cuts across all sectors of an economy.
Climate change adaptation actions are closely linked to the ‘green economy’ and it has in the past decades become a global trending policy, but what exactly is a green economy? The UN Environmental Program defines it to be an economic model that “results in improved human well-being and social equality, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. The idea is that, for those of us in countries considered to be “poor” or “under-developed” whose livelihood and security largely depend on nature (so they say), a green economy creates a development path that ideally should eventually maintain, enhance and even rebuild our natural capital to form a critical economic asset and source to benefit our society. How is this possible? In a green economy, economic growth, in terms of income and employment, is driven by public and private investments that foster innovation, by focusing on a sense of commitment to reducing carbon emissions and pollution, enhancing energy and resource efficiency, and preventing the loss of biodiversity and economic services. And this is what our nation is involved in; indeed, Ghana has over the years formulated policies in this regard and developed such strategies and plans. Some of these are renewable energy policies, national climate change policies, low carbon development strategies that have led to the recent carbon market framework, and forest and wildlife policies, among others that directly focus on creating a green economy. But enough of the policies, one may say, what is the country doing in terms of creating green awareness? The million-dollar question on our minds, but here’s my answer; if you didn’t know already, do not look so far, check out the recently ended “Climate Change and Green Economy week” celebrations titled “Climate Change, a Threat to Our Livelihoods” and the determination of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to create awareness countrywide. In my view, no one was left out in the celebrations, there were activities for everyone; from the round table discussions of the rich and famous to the ordinary low-level Ghanaian, we all had something; there were activities such as processions on the streets of Accra, durbars and community durbars in Accra and regions too, just to mention a few. Remarkable, right? Yes, on the path to creating a green economy, all regions must create awareness as, if I may borrow the words of the honorable Minister of MESTI, “the climate change fight is a “movement”. All persons, businesses, and governments alike should be involved in this movement.
The climate is our business
Indeed, to be able to create a green economy, we need to think of attacking the climate crisis as a “movement”; a matter for all persons, businesses, industries, and governments in all regions. What is their interest when they have a business to run? Survival is the most basic driver of an economy, without clean air, clean water, and the materials needed for clothing and shelter, there will be no business and no economy. There will be absolutely nothing! This is what I call ‘the stakeholders’ model’; it is in everybody’s interest to make climate issues our business. The very reason for a need for businesses and for that matter, industries, not only governments, to be intentional in steadily increasing the use of renewable raw materials and energy and other sustainable sources in their production processes. The earth is resilient, we have to do all we can to stop climate change, and we have to make it our business, climate change is indeed a ‘movement’!