The Time for Climate Action Is Now
Climate change is already having a devastating impact. Tangible progress must be made at COP27
By Ms. Isabel Andam, CVF Youth Fellow
The beauty of my motherland, Ghana, has changed. The country is sadly dancing to the tune of climate change, which is altering seasons beyond recognition. Floods, erratic rainfall patterns and high temperatures are just some of the many changes we have already experienced, impacting everyone from adults to children.
In the north of the country, the combination of rainfall and high temperatures has been devastating. Families are being displaced due to severe flooding which in some instances reaches the roofs of their houses, destroying hectares of farmlands and properties in the process. As well as damaging infrastructure this is having a knock-on effect on many other parts of daily life, notably education as many children are unable to reach schools due to the flooding. If that is not bad enough, when it doesn’t rain there is drought, with heat waves causing water sources like rivers and streams to dry up.
The south of Ghana is personified by its access to the coast and the location of the capital, Accra. It is here that climate change is having an altogether different impact, most notably through rising sea levels. This is already having an impact on the country’s economy. Cocoa is Ghana’s second highest export, however it is sensitive to changes in the weather and the areas in which it is grown are reducing in size due to soil salinization and coastal erosion. The relentless rise in sea level is also rendering recently built sea defences redundant, with Keta, a town in the Volta region already having lost half of its land to the ocean. Ghana was one of the fastest growing economies as recently as 2011, however GDP growth has slowed, which according to USAID is in large part due to climate variability. As a country we are hoping to improve our future by strengthening our adaptive capacity to deal with the impact of climate change, however this cannot be achieved alone.
What must be achieved at COP27
There are 4 main priorities we seek to achieve as a country and as a part of west Africa: Progress on Loss and Damage funding, adaptation, commitment to 1.5°C and comprehensive climate finance. The topmost priority for the region is to ensure that Loss & Damage funding is at the top of the agenda. As well as this, the region expects developed countries to take the lead in raising their ambitions (NDCs) when it comes to limiting global warming. They must keep the 1.5°C goal alive.
When it comes to adaptation, the region is calling for increased focus on the implementation of the Global Goal on Adaptation Work plan (GGA-WP). This will be with a view to providing political, substantive and operational guidance, particularly in the critical assessment of the adequacy and effectiveness of adaptation and action support. This must be accompanied by demonstrable progress on the delivery of the Adaptation Committee’s mandates.
Finance is also of paramount importance. At COP27 we must see action on the political pledges made at COP26 in Glasgow, with commitments made on everything from adaptation financing to the formulation and implementation of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Climate action needs to be taken now. The special report (Global warming of 1.5°C) of the working group III of the IPCC clearly demonstrated that we have passed the point of mitigation. Considering the damage already done, we must adapt to the impacts of climate change whilst also increasing our mitigation ambitions to reduce GHG emissions. Only then can we prevent any further damage.
Future generations do not deserve to come into a world dominated by the losses and damages of climate change. I sincerely hope for a successful COP27. One that will increase the pace in which we address these problems and that will help us to achieve a safe and sustainable world for everyone.
This can only be done if the world’s largest emitters take responsibility. Payment is long overdue.
The time for climate action is now!