Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, a Special Envoy for United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Action, has said it is time the world concentrated on committing resources, for tangible projects instead of reading speeches to deal with its impact.
“There is no time for speeches, negotiations and declarations, but time for actionable programmes and I’m certain the United Nations can count on African governments to push the climate action agenda,” he said.
He called for collective efforts to tackle the impact of climate change by increasing public awareness on climate change, recognising specific needs of each continent, ensure sustainable use of natural resources and advance financial resources towards combating the menace.
Ambassador Alba made the call at a media briefing at the ongoing Africa Climate Week (ACW) in Accra on preparation towards the UN Climate Action Summit in September in New York,USA.
The ACW is to enable stakeholders in both public and private sectors to firm up actions for securing international financing to complement developing nations’ efforts at combating debilitating effects of climate change.
The five-day event is on the theme: ”Climate Action in Africa: A Race We Can Win”, Ambassador Alba expressed optimism that by September, when the UN Climate Summit would kick off, there would be transformative action plans relevant to each continent so that the global body could define financial resources to combat the impact of climate change.
He said the summit in New York would focus on topics such as Resilience and Adaptation, Climate Finance and Carbon Pricing, Infrastructure, Cities and Local Action, Industry Transition, Nature-based Solution, Sustained Communication Campaign and Outreach, among others.
Ambassador Alba said it was UN Secretary-General’s expectation that countries in the Africa region would participate in the summit and contribute their quota towards effort to reducing temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
He said the global body was much aware that Africa was not responsible for the challenge with greenhouse gas emissions, but the continent was at the receiving end of the negative effects of climate change.
He urged Ghana to share her experiences of how she was managing renewable energy, e-waste and plastics with other developing countries to help fight climate change.
The UN Special Envoy said the world needed total understanding of the world’s population to transition from use of fossil fuel to renewable energy and called for collective efforts to create public awareness to sustain the environment.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, for his part, said Ghana had been pursuing climate action, which were embedded in her national development strategy.
In the quest to reduce carbon emission, he said, government wanted mass transportation of people through rail transport, hence the designation of a separate ministry to accomplish that agenda.
Additionally, there would be electric and light rails that would use diesel and pilot them in three cities.
“Ghana would use compressed natural gas to power high capacity commercial buses and electric vehicles with designated charging points in the country’s quest to mitigate the impact of climate change,”the Minister said.
In view of the prolonged dry season in the savanna region, he said government initiated the One-Village, One-Dam programme to ensure all-year-round irrigation for farming and grazing fields for livestock, while Planting for Food and Jobs initiative provided fertilizers and farming inputs for farmers at subsidised rate to bolster agriculture production.
More so, farmers were encouraged to avoid burning their farms after weeding and use the residue as compost to prevent excessive heat from drying up the ground water.
Consequently, an Innovation and Research Industrialisation Centre was established to link up researchers and entrepreneurs in the private sector geared towards the industrialisation agenda.
On the energy front, he said the country had embraced renewable energy with an installed capacity of 54.7 megawatts as of last year, mainly biogas and solar energy.
However, he said, it was difficult to cover the nation’s base load with renewable energy and believed it could help the rural areas, especially to enable school children to study at night and use it for other domestic purposes.
He explained that renewable energy could not be used for heavy industrial purposes for processing raw bauxite, iron and other mineral resources to facilitate the country’s industrial revolution and it was therefore prudent the nation adopted other efficient energy sources to accomplish the industrialisation agenda.
The Minister underlined the need for the United Nation to impress upon the industrialised nations to halt the use of coal, which contributed immensely to high temperature level and sought assistance of the global body on use of solar powered panels to support developing nations’ industrial agenda instead of leveraging on other efficient energy sources, that worsened the climate condition.
This he said had become necessary as the third world nations sought to industrialise their economies vis-à-vis the world’s plan to reduce carbon emission.
He said it would be disastrous for developing nations to promote renewable energy usage, which could not sustain their industrialisation agenda, compounded by the growing population and increasing graduate unemployment situation.
Developing nations would therefore prefer leveraging on more efficient energy sources to power their industrialisation agenda although such an action would have dire consequences on the environment.
He said government enacted Act 917 2016 to deal with e-waste and requested an external service provider to recycle them and disclosed that sooner than later, a recycle plant would be set up to recycle refrigerators and lorry tyres.
He said a National Plastic Waste Management Policy had been formulated and would be presented to Cabinet in two weeks time for consideration.
He said government would not entirely ban plastics, but would start with banning of some selected plastics like chewing gum and straws.