The fact that the world is one global village goes without saying. Weather conditions that were once rare in our grandparents’ lifetime are becoming increasingly common. From the poles to the tropics, Climate Change is disrupting ecosystems worldwide due to negative human activities resulting in heat waves.
This contributes to ice thawing in cold climates and results in coastal towns like Keta and Ada in Ghana being washed away by aggressive sea waves. Similarly, low-lying areas of Adabraka and Bortianor are devastated by floods annually during the rainy season while weather conditions once rare are now becoming more common.
A World Bank Group’s Country Climate and Development Report for Ghana estimates that at least one million more people could fall into poverty due to climate shocks, if urgent climate actions are not taken.
The report further said Ghana’s economic and human development is vulnerable to Climate Change. On average, flooding affects around 45,000 Ghanaians every year, and half of Ghana’s coastline is vulnerable to erosion and flooding as a result of sea-level rise. Without prompt actions, higher temperatures and heat stress will affect crop and labour productivity, and more erratic rainfall patterns will damage buildings and infrastructure. Land degradation, water insecurity and local air pollution will also hamper human capital and productivity.
A state-owned Ghanaian Times Report suggests that a large portion of the total Landscape of the Puveme community in the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region has been washed away by ferocious Tidal Sea Waves.
The report suggests that the once prosperous fishing community has seen tidal waves destroy over 2,000 houses of inhabitants within the space of three years, with many communities now turned into islands.
A report by the Daily Graphic also suggests that the Ada coastline was said to be disappearing at a rate of between 6-8 metres a year, which created a serious threat to the lives and livelihoods of the inhabitants.
Many people living along the coastline were forced to evacuate their homes to safe places as the marauding sea waves approached.
The main road in front of the Ada East District Assembly offices was gradually being washed away; but for the sea protection project, the main offices would have been brought down in ruins by the sea.
Factors driving Climate Change
One factor driving Climate Change is deforestation. Deforestation is when large areas of forests are cut down or burned for various reasons such as agriculture, logging, or urbanisation. Trees play an important role in regulating the earth’s temperature by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When trees are cut down or burned, this releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.
Another factor is industrialisation. These industries often emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane which contribute significantly to global warming. A third factor is population growth. As populations grow, there is increased demand for food, energy, transportation and other resources which can lead to more emissions of greenhouse gases.
Scientists have attributed the changes occurring in our world today, especially in developing countries, to global warming.The most affected, including my grandparents who do not have thermometers, say there is something going wrong with the weather. Mind you, they have been living longer than us. So, they feel the heat and experience the new weather conditions.
Impact on food production and prices
Agriculture serves as the backbone of livelihoods and national economies in most African countries including Ghana and supports over 55% of Ghana’s labour force.
However, agricultural productivity growth has decreased by 34% since 1961 due to Climate Change – this decline is higher than any other region globally.
In Ghana, like many sub-Saharan African countries, that are heavily reliant on rainfall for farming crops or raising livestock with virtually non-existent irrigation systems, the slightest change in rainfall patterns have the potential of affecting annual yields. This creates food shortages accessible only by the rich with teeming populations pushed from rural areas bearing high cost of living.
This, my grandparents insist, there is something wrong with the world, because Climate Change-driven food shortages will not affect everyone equally; wealthier individuals will have more resources while billions of others face increased insecurity worsening existing disparities between them.
It is projected that annual food imports by African countries are expected to increase threefold from US$35 billion to US$110 billion by 2025 due to negative impacts of Climate Change.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s Climate Policy Centre projects that the loss and damage costs associated with Climate Change impact range between US$290 billion – US$440 billion depending on the degree of warming experienced. Furthermore, conflicts for productive land may arise due to diminishing natural resources. Understanding these impacts allows us to better prepare for what lies ahead, differentiate between avoidable and unavoidable consequences, and protect all communities.
Half of Ghana’s coastline is vulnerable to erosion and flooding as a result of sea-level rise
Unfortunately, pledges from developed countries to contribute substantial financial resources to address the Climate Change challenge have often been unfulfilled. For instance, the promise made more than a decade ago by the world’s wealthiest economies to mobilise 100 billion dollars annually in climate finance for poorer countries by 2020 remains unmet.
The inadequate support hinders poorer nations’ ability to implement measures to cope with the hazards of a warming planet, such as constructing sea defence walls or implementing early warning systems for floods and droughts. As a result, people are increasingly turning to the courts to combat the climate crisis.
As of December 2022, there were 2,180 climate-related cases filed in 65 jurisdictions, including international and regional courts, tribunals, quasi-judicial bodies, other adjudicatory bodies, such as Special Procedures at the United Nations and Arbitration Tribunals, according to data from the Global Climate Litigation Report: 2023 Status Review.
This represents a steady increase from 884 cases in 2017 to 1,550 cases in 2020. It is surprising to note that women’s groups, local communities and indigenous people among others, are taking a prominent role in bringing these cases and driving Climate Change governance reform in more and more countries around the world.
Recognising the critical importance of Climate Change risks to national development, Ghana has made considerable strides, through policies, programmes, and planning processes, to increase the country’s resilience to the negative impacts of Climate Change. This includes the National Climate Change Master Plan Action Programmes for Implementation (2015–2020), the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC, 2015), the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP, 2013) and the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS, 2012).
Ghana’s NDC reaffirms the nation’s commitment to international Climate Change obligations under the Paris Agreement. The national response to Climate Change has revolved around a twin approach of lowering emissions and building a resilient society that can adequately withstand the impacts of Climate Change and contribute to mitigating global emissions. Despite these efforts, many believe more practical steps must be adopted to fight the problem head-on.
Call to action
It’s important that we take action now towards reducing our impact on the environment through sustainable practices like planting more trees instead of cutting them down unnecessarily; using cleaner sources of energy like solar power rather than relying solely on fossil fuel; promoting family planning programmes so we can slow down population growth rates while still meeting people’s needs for food security among others .
The activities of most people, including those who doubt what environmentalists are complaining about, raise the need for more information about Climate Change.
Agriculture serves as the backbone of livelihoods and supports over 55% of Ghana’s labour force
The voice of the young Swedish environmentalist, Greta Thunberg, aptly calls on the media to do more in the campaign when she says, “no entity other than the media has the opportunity to create the necessary transformation of our global society.”
Much as the media is important in the campaign to transform the global society, the media I should say, is by no means a “magic bullet or hypodermic needle to deliver relief or solution.”
It will still require masses of people who appreciate taking care of the environment and for the environment to take care of the people. For some time now, societies have increasingly abandoned the principles of caring for the land, caring for the people, and working for fair share. Probably, more people may have to go back to the basics in designing and putting into practice principles for regeneration, restoration and sustainability.