It will be recalled that in December, 2015, over one hundred and ninety delegates, including Heads of State, met in the French capital, Paris, to deliberate on Climate Change. What has come to be known as CAP21Paris was a Forum on Sustainable Innovation which prepared a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for eventual ratification by member-states.
The Forum sought to ensure that steps to reduce carbon emissions are to be enshrined in laws of participating countries. It was targeted to hold global warning to a level below 2o Celsius for industrial countries and between 1o and 1.5o C for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The Forum also sought to ensure that countries agree to a new global deal to tackle Climate Change. There was the need to embed Climate Change legislation into national action and equity differentiation between developed and developing countries.
The Agreement to curb carbon emissions was signed by 165 countries at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, (22nd April, 2016), including about ¾ of governments of African countries. The World Bank was expected to spend 28% of its investments on projects directed towards limiting planet heating and control or mitigation of the effects on the ecosystem in the form of desertification. The Bank is supposed to be insistent on the search for renewable energy.
It is significant to remark that the United States and China, which are the world’s most polluted countries, readily joined the other signatories to ratify the deal into action. According to a statement before the signing ceremony, the President of the Grantham Research Institute, Lord Nicholas Stern, emphasized that the investments to be made by the World Bank must be in transport, energy, water, buildings and land utilization and management. He warned that, otherwise, we are doomed to a situation where people can neither move nor breathe in our cities and to ecosystems that will collapse.
To that effect, more than USD100 billion yearly will have to be invested in infrastructure globally for the next 20years, if the commitments made in the agreement are to be fulfilled. Meanwhile, in the past decade or so, poor countries have not been able to benefit from a Green Climate Fund (GCF) created to give small, developing countries direct access to finances to protect themselves from risks due to Climate Change, like flooding and desertification. Such vulnerable nations include islands such as Tonga, the Comoros, Grenada, etc., which have been confronted with complicated bureaucratic and accreditation processes.
The documentation on a 52-page application dossier includes the GCF fiduciary and gender policy standards as well as how relevant environmental and social safeguards against corruption and complaints have been handled in the past couple of years, among others. The accreditation process has thereby been described as an ‘excruciatingly painful’ document. Least Developed Countries in vulnerable situations have had to resort to contracting international financial institutions and NGOs to access the maximum of USD300,000, after complying with the relevant guidelines.
At the next meeting of the Forum, in Marrakesh, Morocco, COP22 is expected to highlight African problems relative to Climate Change as over 250 million people are displaced annually as a result of floods and desertification. For the meantime, the signatory-member-states of the UN are required to redeem their pledges while cumbersome procedures for accessing the Green Climate Fund would have to be reviewed. Countries would have to adopt projects and accelerated action plans for early-warning predictions. At the individual levels, we are obliged to co-operate in the way we consume products of non-replaceable fossil energy.
Lifestyle changes would have to be evident and taken seriously by citizens of Least Developed Countries as our personal contribution towards a sustainable development and the limitation of the effects of Global Warming or Climate Change.
The Government of Ghana should join the other signatories to come out with precise action plans embracing long-term projects to protect water bodies, forests and other elements of our environment. The benchmarks set in the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development may only succeed if the ordinary citizens see themselves as the beneficiaries in the long run.