General News of Wednesday, 11 July 2012
By Adu Koranteng
The vice president of the University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey has observed that the impact of climate change in Africa is being felt than ever as the continent experience increasing water scarcity and flooding in various pats of the country and the continent.
Addressing dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the climate change and population conference in Accra this week, professor Aryeetey held that although Africa’s contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions is minimal, it will not escape the negative implications of climate change.
This, he noted is due to the failure of the people to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change .( Already many areas in Africa are recognized as having climates that are among the most variable in the world on seasonal and decadal time scale with same geographical environment experiencing extreme events within shorter time periods. These events are leading to famine and widespread disruption of socio economic wellbeing.
The event which brought together climate scientists weather forecasters economists politicians and policy makers together was under the theme “At the Cross Roads; climate change, population and Africa’s Development”.
Professor Aryeetey quoted a report by the United Nations Conference on climate change as stating that one third of African’s already live in drought prone areas with 220 million being exposed to drought each year.
According to professor Aryeetey , the situation is compelling some climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture and forestry that rely heavily on rainfall to be severely compromised ;thus undermining the social and economic sustainability of subsistence farming which is the bedrock of agriculture”.
According to World Health Organization, 2010 health data, Ghana’s climate sensitive disease burden has worsened.
The data indicate that Ghana now resides in the most vulnerable category for climate change and health globally, and that the main disease sensitive to climate parameters and malnutrition among young children include water and food borne diseases such as cholera and vector borne diseases such as malaria.
The most significant climate impact for Ghana by 2030 per year on health is estimated at 2,500 deaths with an additional 1.25-5 million people to be affected.
It would cost Government 500 million dollars to mitigate the effects of heating and cooling, 140 million dollars on fisheries, 165 million on agriculture, 15 million dollars on forestry, 10 million on flood and landslides, 100 million dollars on sea-level rise and 50 million on biodiversity.
Preliminary data analysis indicate that key challenges ahead of West Africa and for that matter Ghana was that African leaders were yet to fully grasp the phenomenon and its implications for the continent.
It also indicated the daunting task of coordinating dozens of different line Ministries actions as well as interfacing with international actors and regional, districts and community level authorities.
The data noted that other challenges include policy implementation, donor collaboration, smart strategies and policy and resource blending and reference scenarios cited in official document such as the 2011 second national communication, which was at odds with scenarios put forward by several leading climate references authorities.
Meanwhile, Matthew McKinnon, Head of Climate Change Vulnerability Initiative, in a contribution said Ghana has a lot of opportunities to tackle issues of climate change.
He mentioned finance, carbon markets, and technology transfer and poverty eradication. Mr McKinnon said though tapping these opportunities were a problem, models could be adopted from countries with early successes.
He was of the view that Ghana and West Africa had not gained meaningful access to international carbon market such as clean development mechanism, and noted that emission reduction and reforestation programmes in Ghana would be made more viable if access to income streams derived from international carbon market were made available.
Participants at the seminar argued that there was an urgent need for Ghana to develop a communication strategy that would make issues of climate change more meaningful to the ordinary Ghanaian.
They contended that there was the need to craft messages to suit people in formal and informal sector because climate change was a developmental issue and not an environmental one and should be understood as such.