The media and civil society organisations (CSOs) have been urged to situate extreme weather events in Ghana in the climate change discourse to amplify public awareness on climate-driven issues.
Mr Muntaka Chasant, a researcher and environmentalist, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Friday, explained that climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, had been recognised to contribute to extreme rainfall, hence in mitigating the country’s flooding menace, stakeholders must consider those causes and effects.
“We are in a time of climate emergency and we all need to be proactive,” he said.
“These changes in climate increase the risk of extreme weather events, including the excessive flooding experienced in Accra recently, prolonged droughts in northern Ghana and storm surges in coastal communities, especially in the Volta Region, due to rising seas,” he said.
Mr Chasant said the wider scientific understanding was that climate change, in many cases, exacerbated heavy rainfall, increased risks of droughts, and depleted groundwater.
“While we should continue to demand high-quality urban infrastructure and increased flood defense spending, we should not overlook the scientific understanding that the frequency and intensity of these weather events are influenced by climate change,” he said.
“Regardless of whether a city’s infrastructure is resilient, massive flooding fuelled by man-made climate distortions devastated the most advanced cities in recent years.”
He said moving climate change to the centre of the news agenda, and social conversation in relation to its impacts was important in enlisting public support.
“So, when we talk about flooding in southern Ghana, droughts in the north, or the tidal waves that devastated the Fuveme Community in the Volta Region, we’re in effect talking about the consequences of climate change.”
“Centring the conversation this way has the capacity to enable and accelerate the scale and pace of climate action.”
Mr Chasant recommended protection of Ghana’s forests and a national policy on the sustainability of mangroves and scrubs to mitigate climate change, citing the Sakumo Ramsar Site as one of the areas being degraded through encroachment, which should be discouraged.
“Despite being carbon-rich and the first line of defense against rising sea levels and tidal flooding, the mangrove forest in the Densu Delta in Accra was destroyed for firewood, timber, and fish traps because there was no policy or actions to protect them,” Mr Chasant said.
Similar mangrove deforestation is ongoing in the Ankobra and around the Volta Delta, where harvesting of firewood was a source of livelihood, he said.
“As a blue carbon ecosystem, mangroves absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their biomass.
This helps to regulate the global climate.”
Mr Chasant said degrading those mangrove habitats shifted their function from carbon sinks to significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Consequently, we worsen the climate crisis by not protecting these critical coastal forests.”
He called on the authorities to crack the whip, when necessary, to save the country from imminent climate-related catastrophes.