Ghana vs Climate Change: How Prepared Are We?

(Flood surges on Ghana’s beach roads as a result of Climate Change culminating in rise in sea levels)

For a global phenomenon as complicated as Climate Change, there is the need to expedite action in building a firm, legal and institutional framework in addressing challenges of adaptation and mitigation. Has our national government been alacritous and proactive in ratifying policies and passing bills concerning climate change? This article seeks to  highlight the strides we have made as a country and ask the critical questions in this regard.
The lethargy with which such pressing environmental concerns are dealt with leaves much to be desired, considering the fact that Ghana in particular is very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Why is Ghana vulnerable to the impacts of climate change?

  • Our location on the West African Coast makes us susceptible to sea level rise as a result of climate change.

  • There is heavy reliance on climate as a vehicle to drive our agricultural sector which employs about 60% of the entire populace.
  • Our status as a developing country does not provide us with adequate technology and infrastructure to mitigate or adapt to climate change.
  • Also, sensitization and educational campaigns on the issues of climate change are very few. The average Ghanaian is bereft of any knowledge of climate change and global warming.
  • There has been staggering evidence in Ghana of climate change impact in several parts of this country over the years.From the perennial floods,to wild bush fires and sea defense projects on our coasts.There is therefore the need for concerted global and regional efforts to be made by all nations in addressing this problem because of its Transboundary Nature (One nation’s action or inaction affects the other). This is why nations come together at the international level to sign various agreements amongst themselves in order for them to act as checks on one another and ensure compliance.
      

    What has been done so far?     

    •  The two major international conventions with regards to climate change are the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol. Ghana is a signatory to both. Ghana ratified the UNFCCC on 6th Sept. 1995 and Kyoto Protocol on 30th May 2008.
    • A National Climate Change Policy has been formulated and approved by parliament.  
    • Climate Change has been mainstreamed in various sectors of the economy in Ghana (Agriculture, Energy, Forestry etc)
    • UNFCCC National Communications and Sector specific greenhouse gas inventories are prepared in yearly in compliance of UNFCCC regulations.
    • Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and National Climate Change Adaptation strategy (NCCAS) have been developed by Ghana.
       
         So, back to the question of ‘how prepared we are’
          1.Are the above mentioned interventions enough to cushion Ghana against climate change and its impacts? How effective has their operationalization been?
         2. Have we built the capacity of individuals and institutions to adequately plan for, deal with and adapt to climate change?
         3. Is there a comprehensive legal and institutional framework in place for climate change administration in Ghana?
         4. How prepared and resilient is our government/economy to mitigate and adapt to climate change?

    These are some of the unanswered critical questions that keep lingering in the minds of many Ghanaians. I’ll leave my readers to be the jury.
    We cannot continue as a country on this trajectory of leaving things to chance with regards to climate change since it affects us all in one way or the other. There is obviously a lot of work to be done in this arena.Aside the formulation and approval of the National Climate Change Policy, relevant laws to support the policy also need to be passed to give it a legal backing. There is also the need for the establishment of an institution eg. Ghana Climate Change Directorate to co-ordinate and oversee all climate change related issues in the country.

    As  World Environment Day 2014 was celebrated a few weeks back themed “Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level” this is a clarion call on all and sundry including our policy makers to raise their voices to the climate change debate and expedite action on the implementation of policies to ensure that the overall goal of sustainable development is achieved.

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