The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which has come to be known popularly as (COP27) has been held in Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022. It sought to renew solidarity between countries delivering on the landmark Paris Agreement, for people and the plan.
The conference has been held annually since the first United Nations climate agreement in 1992. It is used by the government to agree on policies to limit global temperature rises and adapt to impacts associated with climate change
African Heads of State and Government including Ghana joined over 45,000 participants to deliberate on global climate issues. Climate change appears to be one of the world’s biggest challenges which have no end in sight, at least in the foreseeable future.
President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo delivered five separate statements on efforts Ghana is making to protect its forests and oceans and sustainable energy and the energy transition and also participated in the Africa Adaption Acceleration Summit, which was held on the sidelines of the global meeting.
“Climate change,” they call it, refers to any long-term change in climate, which also causes adverse effects on the lives of people dwelling on this planet. Some of such products can be said to include warming, cooling and other changes besides temperature.
It is the defining issue of our time, and the world is a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production to increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale.
Scientists suggest that climate change can also impact human health by worsening air and water quality, increasing the spread of certain diseases, and altering the frequency or intensity of extreme weather events.
In Ghana, climate change is impacting the people in several ways as the country sits at the intersection of three hydro-climatic zones. Today we witness changes in rainfall patterns, weather conditions and sea-level rise all affecting human lives and especially the salinity of coastal waters.
One big question, therefore, is who caused this. Human activities, particularly, out-of-control industrialisation, the burning of fuels, the cutting down of trees and other agricultural activities as well as the unwarranted destruction of water bodies, release gases including Carbon oxide (CO2), Methane and Nitrous Oxide into the atmosphere consciously or otherwise, have been the major causes of the climate woes we find ourselves today. Drought, flooding, quality water supply, food and agriculture situations and the devastating impact on the global ecosystems, among others, are all here with us.
The good old book, “The Bible,” says that God created the heavens and the earth.” The 31st verse of the opening account of creation states, “God saw all that he had made, and it was excellent. And there was evening and morning—the sixth day.”
Indeed, the environment at the beginning was superb, and there was nothing like decay. Bible historians reckon that even leaves did not fall until the sin of the first two people was committed. Still, as the population started growing, human activities also expanded, which had a devastating effect on humanity.
The common knowledge we have is that every single human activity has something to do with things around him, especially the vegetation and, by extension, the environment.
When man engages the environment, there is always a positive or negative impact, sometimes not visible. However, it is still an impact that, by and large, has consequences that cannot be quantified.
With this, the changes in the climate affect the air we breathe both indoors and outdoors. The experts say warming and cooling temperatures as well as shifting weather patterns can exacerbate air quality. This can also lead to severe health issues like asthma attacks and other respiratory and cardiovascular health effects.
On the continent of Africa, flooding is the most prevalent disaster caused by climate change. The northern part of Africa, for instance, is the first most prevalent, while the second most common is in East, South and Central Africa, and the third most common is in West Africa. This is per the Africa Water Development Report (AWDR, 2006).
“In North Africa, the 2001 disastrous flood in northern Algeria resulted in about 800 deaths and an economic loss of about $400 million. In Mozambique, the 2000 flood (worsened by two cyclones) caused 800 deaths and affected almost 2 million people of which about 1 million needed food, 329,000 people were displaced and agricultural production land was destroyed.”
For the last few years, temperatures in the otherwise known cold temperature zones on the planet earth are rather experiencing soaring temperatures. The previous four years have recorded the hottest temperatures in certain parts of Europe and Africa, whiles those known for hot temperatures are recording rather low-temperature figures.
Climate change impact is being felt worldwide and, in some cases, with devastating effects. “Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow. But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.”
Already, Ghana has experienced its fair share of devastating effects of climate change, with the three northern regions most affected. In recent times, many people have died through heavy rains and flooding.
The most affected sectors in Ghana include the economic, social, and infrastructural groups. The cumulative effects on these sectors determine the impacts and vulnerabilities of various livelihood groups and places in the country.”
Ghana’s climate change situation is anticipated to affect socio-economic infrastructures such as roads, water resources, energy supplies, crop production and food security.
These are the repro effects of the smoking cars on the roads, the burning vehicle tyres used for various commercial activities such as preparation of meat, indiscriminate dumping of refuse, excessive felling of trees, all forms of mining activities, the releasing of carbon into the atmosphere, the use of atmospheric unfriendly electronic and electrical gadgets. waste management, illegal, logging, deforestation, noise, water and air pollution have been potent agents in the destruction of valuable natural protective elements like the ozone layer
For now, there is no antidote to the trend. Climate change matters are worsening by the day Governments and other international organisations such as the United Nations are just struggling to halt or at best, minimise it.
This year alone, several climate change summits have taken place around the globe. Such delivers a significant step up in national ambition and private sector action on the pathway to the critical 2020 climate deadline.
The recent world meeting in Egypt was another big one to deliberate on measures to curb the alarming rate of climate deterioration on this planet.
The outcome of COP27 is a compromise. It reflects the interests, the contradictions and the state of political will in the world today. It is an important step, but it is not enough,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said after the conference.
As pressure mounts for urgent climate action, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a global roadmap to achieve a radical transformation of energy access and transition by 2030, while also contributing to net zero emissions by 2050.
Here in Ghana, a more pragmatic measure supported by a meaningful national policy must be in place to check the unprecedented and alarming trend of climate change. This must be done urgently or we as a people face the very looming and unpleasant consequence of climate change. This is because the handwriting is so clear on the wall, and we must act now.
The urgent need for us to make the world a better place than we met is now more relevant than ever. To end issues of climate change, there is an urgent need to exhibit a commitment to this cause. It cannot be all talking the actions are more important.
BY NANA SIFA TWUM (PHD)