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Opinions of Sunday, 30 August 2015

Columnist: Abubakari, Farida

Will Ghana present a fair and ambitious idea to climate conference?

Most nations, including all major countries, are in the process of preparing their contribution to present at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Paris at Le Bourget site in France from 30th November to 11th December.

The Paris summit will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the 1992 UNFCCC and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 11) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Its main objective is to achieve a legally binding, universal agreement on climate from all the countries in the world.

All countries are expected to give an outline of actions it intend to take within a global agreement during the previous COP series of negotiations and prove ways to reduce emissions under what is called “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)” to be considered in Paris. Both developed and developing countries are expected to each submit an offer to reduce their overall domestic emissions, specifying a goal for 2025 or 2030.

Actions to be undertaken in Ghana’s INDCs from 2020 to 2030 would be on four strategic areas – agriculture and food security; climate resilient strategic infrastructure; equitable social development; and sustainable natural resource management.

The INDCs therefore provide an opportunity to set standards for Ghana in the implementation of the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP). Ghana’s INDCs are focused on both mitigation and adaptation, whilst the basis of implementation is based on conditional – what the country can do with external support; and unconditional – what the country can do without external support.

The INDC will undergo a national consultation process with stakeholders at all levels to be sensitized so that they could contribute to the development of the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). This includes policy makers, stakeholders from academia, public service, civil society and the media, technical experts from ministries, agencies, private institutions, the private sectors and traditional rulers. Consultations were held at the technical, district and at national level.

Dr Emmanuel Tachie Obeng, National Focal Point for Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness of the UNFCCC, said “The national consultation process was ongoing for Ghanaians to be sensitized so that they could contribute to the development of the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)”. After that, the final document would then be sent to the Cabinet for approval to be presented to the organizers of COP 21.

In the end, it is a political decision. Technical inputs form an important element in the INDC-process and should be closely tied-in with national experts and stakeholders. But at the end of the day, the determination of the INDC will need to be a political choice. It depends on the political will of Ghana’s leadership to send a signal-nationally and internationally-on how seriously they take the climate change challenge and how far they are willing to go to avoid the worst consequences.

Is Ghana Ready For Emission Reduction?

The vision of the NCCP as stated is “…achieving sustainable development through equitable low carbon economic growth for Ghana”. According to Ghana’s 2nd Communication to UNFCCC, it is still making frantic efforts to reduce the emission levels even though Ghana emits about 33.7 Mt CO2 e in 2012.

It therefore comes as a surprise, recent intentions of Government to establish a 700 MW Coal-fired Power Plant which certainly will emit volumes of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions leading to severe health and environmental consequences. Media report says that about 20 million tonnes of coal is expected to be imported from South Africa for this project which will release about 2 million tonnes of gases into the atmosphere. This places serious doubt on government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Is that the frantic effort?

Ghana’s energy policy states that, government will promote the use of environmentally-friendly energy supply sources, such as renewable energy (solar, wind, waste), in energy supply mix of the country. Also, Session 31 of Ghana’s Renewable Energy Act 2011 (ACT 832) makes provision for the establishment of a Renewable Energy Fund which has still not been established. The non-establishment of the fund seems to prove Ghana’s lackadaisical interest in promoting renewable energies. Instead of government developing renewable energy mechanisms in fragmented fashion, it is advisable to run such interventions in a concerted manner.

Also, Ghana has the highest rate of deforestation. The illegal act of felling trees has become one of the commonest offences in Ghana today, some culprits are caught by the law, the fortunate ones are never caught, while others are sometimes deliberately let go by guardians of the law.

According to Alex Morales, a humanitarian, the study, which was published by Wood Products Trade Group, an international tropical timber organization in Yokohama, Japan, Ghana loses 2.19 percent of forests a year.

What will Ghana present as her contribution to emission reduction? Seven African countries have so far submitted their INDCs – Gabon, Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya, Benin, Djibouti and DRC. Ghana should be able to submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) before the deadline of end of September 2015. Countries that fail to submit their INDCs will miss out of the synthesis report and the seriousness of the country in the negotiation process would be questioned.

Ethiopia and Morocco, following a historic agreement this year, have both pledged significant reduction. Morocco has pledged a 32% cut in 2030 greenhouse gas emissions from business-as-usual level.

This transformation notably entails “Substantially reducing fossil fuel subsidies, building on reforms already undertaken in recent years” and going for “50% renewable energy electricity production by 2025.

Ethiopia’s contribution represents a 64 percent emissions reduction from business-as-usual emissions by 2030. Ethiopia’s INDC also aims to integrate actions that improve the status of women, welfare of children, and the well-being of the elderly, disabled, and environmental refugees. Ethiopian’s Emission cut focused on intensified natural resource management and Afforestation, investments in low-emission transport sector and increased in renewable energy.
This is what Ghana should imitate to help curb her energy crisis but not going for fossil fuel siblings which will cause disasters in the country especially the recent June 3rd disaster which claimed over hundred lives. It is never too late until the bones are rotten.

By Farida Abubakari,
Global Ambassador for Youth and Enlightenment and Welfare (YEW) Ghana
and Climate Tracker for the Adopt a Negotiator program.
Email: uniquefarida@live.com