Ghana is among 198 nations and the European Union Block, who have feverishly prepared to start another round of climate related negotiations at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), from Thursday, November 30th to Tuesday, December 12th, in Dubai, UAE.
High on the nation’s priority for presentation and negotiation at COP28, is the importance of scaling up forest and nature-based solutions to climate change. This is underscored by the fact that half of the country’s national greenhouse gas emissions have been attributed to agricultural, forest and land use (AFOLU) activities.
Therefore, COP28 will be an opportunity for Ghana to demonstrate the effectiveness of her efforts at reducing emissions from the AFOLU sector.
These were some of the key issues highlighted at a pre-COP28 event organised by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) in Accra on Monday November 30th, 2023.
Ghana’s Second Lady, Samira Bawumia, who was the special guest of honour noted that “climate change is an existential crisis that disproportionately affects us all.” She was particularly concerned that “the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa was more precarious because the Region is expected to experience a significant decline in agricultural input and this will pose a great threat in food security and livelihoods.”
Her Excellency Bawumia was also concerned that while women and children were highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, they also had the least access to resources, opportunities and decision-making power to cope with these challenges. “It is therefore imperative,” she stated, “that they are included in the design, implementation and development of climate change strategies.”
She urged them to commit themselves to work together to ensure that “the voices of women and children are not just heard, but are at the forefront of the fight against climate change.” Her Excellency Bawumia admitted that the journey will be challenging, but stressed that it must be undertaken, “for the sake of our shared future.” She added: “together we can open a new chapter in the story of our planet and our continent. A chapter, where humanity stands together as guardians of nature, safeguarding the earth for generations to come.” Her expectation was that “our collective voices at COP28, spur on the support, change and commitment we need so that our result will be a cleaner, greener and more sustainable continent that we all want.”
Earlier, in his brief to participants on the sector’s priority for presentation at COP28, the sector minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor said the pre-COP28 session was meant to solidify partners and stakeholders support to accelerate action on forest and nature-based solutions to climate change.
Other pre-COP28 Events in Ghana
In a related development, the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) organised a similar pre-COP28 event on Thursday 31st August 2023 to purposely inaugurate a multi-sectoral committee to plan and coordinate activities across sectors for successful participation in COP28. The sector minister, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, inaugurated the 18-member committee, chaired by MESTI’s Director of Environment, Dr Peter Dery.
Meanwhile, members of Ghana’s civil society had also been actively preparing themselves for active participation in C0P 28 through various activities.
They include Friday, November 10th, 2023, workshop on Methane Action organised by Greener Impact International in collaboration with Kasa Initiative Ghana, the Hatof Foundation and the Ghana’s CSO platform on SDGs. The event served as a first step towards strengthening the cross collaborations between CSOs, local communities and policy actors to tackle methane emission in Ghana.
Then, last Monday, November 27th, 2023, Abantu for Development, PACJA and the @keepyourpromisecampaign on a Pre-COP28 Presser in collaboration with the Kasa Initiative Ghana, a Natural Resource and Environment (NRE) Civil Society Platform held a press conference in Accra. The purpose was to create public awareness on COP28 and demand that world leaders deliver on their promises to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change.
Also, on Wednesday, 22nd November, 2023 Kasa Initiative Ghana in collaboration with the Climate Change Unit of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) organised a COP 28 capacity building workshops for its members. As a result, the knowledge of CSO members on matters such as Carbon Trade, what it entails, who can engage in it and the process involved.
On the same day, the Youth Climate Council, Ghana also organised an event in Accra on Wednesday 22nd November, 2023 on “Capacity Building for Climate Justice: Storytelling as a Tool for climate Justice and Good Security,” for youth from different parts of the country in Accra.
It is worthy of note that the Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND) utilized a greater portion of the month of November to roll-out several youth focused in-person and on-line events on different aspects of the UNFCCC and related protocols. The aim was to empower stakeholders especially the youth to contribute meaningfully to COP28 discussions and negotiations.
Therefore, Gifty Elikplim Agbenyefia of SYND is much more confident of a productive participation in COP28, which she sees as making space for young voices to call leaders to action. But most importantly, Gifty believes “COP28 is presenting an opportune period for the young voices to demand leaders to implement actions that will yield positive results especially when it comes to committing funds for actions under loss and damage.”
The term “Loss and damage” is used in UN climate negotiations to refer to the consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to. It additionally, refers to situations when options exist but a community does not have the resources to access or utilize these options. The crucial point of on-going discussion on loss and damages, is on why and how richer countries should compensate poorer countries for the effects of climate-related extreme weather effects.
Goals of COP28
Central to COP 28 is how far the world has come since the forging of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 with three main goals: keep global temperature rise to “well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels;” adapt to climate change and build resilience; and align finance flow with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
So, aside working towards the 1.5 degree Celsius goal and doubling up plans to reduce emissions which is key to preventing dangerous global warming, COP28 will discuss a number of issues – how to make countries move to clean energy sources more quickly; ensure richer countries provide more money to poorer countries to help them undertake more climate actions; and to work on a new climate agreement for developing nations.
Africa’s COP28 preparations were also energetic. The various in-country COP28 related dialogues and meetings culminated in the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2023, under the auspices of the African Union.
The summit concluded with the Nairobi Declaration, which presented an African position in the global climate change process that pushes for green growth and a transformed climate finance environment and which leaves no one behind. It calls for the global community to act with urgency to reduce emissions, honour past commitments and support Africa’s climate action.
Ultimately, this declaration will form the basis of the continent’s negotiations and guide the articulation of the African position at COP28. It is a verbatim declaration support by leadership for: “A SUCCESSFUL AND AMBITIOUS COP28 THAT GOES BEYOND MERE TALK.”