The two weeks of talks in Glasgow, Scotland, one of the United Kingdom’s most sustainable cities, is a rare chance for world leaders and thousands of attendees to get together to tackle climate change.
The city of Glasgow is agog as delegates from every corner of the globe (nearly 200 nations) have gathered to attend the major climate conference.
It is the 26th gathering of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN COP26) and since 1995, global leaders have met annually to firm up plans to tackle climate change. Till date the world is light years away from meeting its climate goals and COP26 is expected to put the world on a path to aggressively cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow the Earth’s warming.
It will also accelerate action towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
By hosting the conference, the United Kingdom is once again affirming its lead role as one of the first countries in the world to acknowledge the global climate emergency and the need for all nations to work hard to ensure that our action matches the scale of our climate ambitions.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo leads the country’s delegation to participate in this all-important COP 26, and will deliver a policy statement on Ghana’s position on Climate Change, as well as measures put in place to combat the threat it poses. He will also deliver three separate statements on efforts Ghana is making to protect her forests and ocean, and participate in the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Summit, being held on the sidelines of COP 26. In Ghana, deforestation and forest degradation have become the greatest challenges to sustainable forest management. How to restore the country’s depleting forest cover and implement effective measures to mitigate the impact of climate change are the issues of concern.
Ahead of COP26, Ghana has launched the Green Ghana Programme, which had more than five million trees planted in a single day across the country. The whole essence of the programme is to help raise national consciousness of the need to protect the environment and replenish the country’s lost forest cover.
Ghana is also working hard to overcome the challenges associated with illegal mining (galamsey), which is polluting the river bodies and destroying the forest cover. Another initiative, National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP), has been launched in Tarkwa in the Western Region to help reduce the hardships persons in mining communities endure as a result of activities of Operation Halt in those areas.
Today, there are attempts to change the narrative of Agbogbloshie, a suburb of Accra, as the world’s largest e-waste dump. This neighbourhood had become infamous as the graveyard for Europe’s hazardous e-waste. Computers, television and other electronic goods from developed countries which had outlived their usefulness piled up in this giant open-air garbage dump.
All these measures in Ghana sit well with the call by the UN Secretary-General on G20 leaders, in particular, and world leaders in general, to take stringent and bold climate actions to save the planet.
In a special opinion piece, the UN head added that "the time is passed for diplomatic niceties," and further warns that “our actions or inaction, will determine our future”, and that we can choose to take the right direction by acting to avert the climate and human catastrophes that await us.
Two weeks of talks
Nonetheless, the hope is that the two weeks of talks in Glasgow, which UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described as a “turning point for humanity,” will produce an international response to the climate emergency, where world leaders will show more commitment to tackle climate change on a global scale.
COP 26 must, therefore, be an unmissable opportunity to make stronger commitments to tackle the climate crises. If COP 26 succeeds, the world will be a safer place to live in.
However, for many countries, one of the biggest issues to be resolved in Glasgow is for developed nations to fulfil a commitment to pay £100 billion to poor countries each year to deal with climate change. The argument has always been that those with the most historical responsibility for climate change should pay the most to clean up the environment. The G20 alone, made up of 19 countries and the European Union, accounts for 80 per cent of the world’s emissions.
It will be recalled that somewhere in 2009, the developed nations committed to mobilise £100 billion by 2020 to help less developed countries deal with the effects of climate change and build greener economies.
It is my hope that Glasgow will set the right targets including agreeing to send a strong message to coal-reliant nations to end the coal power and vigorously pursue actions that will cut carbon emissions so as to limit global warming. This is the task that COP26 faces.