Feature by Josephine Naaeke
Accra, Oct 31, GNA - World leaders and parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would converge in Bonn, November 6 to 17 2017 for this year’s climate talks but without Donald Trump’s America?
The conference which is the 23rd in the series dubbed COP23 would be presided over by Fiji Island and is expected to accelerate the transformation to sustainable, resilient and climate-safe development.
It would provide an opportunity to discuss emission reduction and boost the serious work of ensuring that the management of risk is integrated into disaster risk management as a whole.
The absence of America in this year’s conference is because President Trump in June 2017 announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement leaving the US with only Syria and Nicaragua as his companions.
His announcement was widely condemned in the European Union and many sectors in the United States as well as many advocates of the UN climate change talks. Some states have decided to continue to comply with the dictates of the Paris Agreement but how sustainable will be without government support.
Under the agreement, the earliest effective date of withdrawal for the U.S. is November 2020.
On October 24, 2017 however, the head of the UN climate change Patricia Espinosa welcomed Nicaragua accession to the Paris climate change agreement.
At the 22nd UN climate changes conference which took place in Marrakesh, North Africa in November last year many expressed disappointment with the election of Trump to the White House because of his campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris Deal.
It was the feeling of many that if the US withdraws it would dissuade others from the agreement particularly when former President Obama had pledged to contribute 3 billion dollars to the Green Climate Fund out of which 1billion has been contributed.
The Green Climate Fund was established within the framework of the UNFCCC to assist developing countries in adaption and mitigation practices to counter climate change.
The withdrawal intent of President Trump has however not stopped the climate talks from coming on as parties are more cooperative and ready to go ahead whether with Trump or no Tramp.
But has Trump any regards for climate change, reports from the Guardian.com noted that at the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July 2017, 19 of the 20 leaders were able to agree on all points made in the joint declaration (known as the communiqué) with the exception of Donald Trump who could not agree on climate change.
Breaking with tradition, a separate paragraph on the US’s stance on the Paris climate agreement and fossil fuels was added.
Angela Merkel “deplored” the decision by the US to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, but said that all other nations agree the Paris Climate Accord is “irreversible”.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that he has not given up on trying to get Donald Trump to change his mind over the Paris climate deal.
Trump has been criticised for appointing fossil fuel executives or climate skeptics to senior government positions at the U.S state department and at environment, energy, agriculture and interior agencies and departments.
The UNFCCC indicate that with 197 parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.
The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The UNFCCC is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto protocol with the objective to stabilise greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system in a time frame which allows eco system to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.
On 5 October 2016, the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved following which the Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016. The first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) took place in Marrakech, Morocco from 15-18 November 2016.
While other parties to the convention have recognised the importance of the agreement and are preparing towards the task in the near few days to discuss life threatening issues of climate disasters, global warming and its impact on the most vulnerable communities, one wonders what must be the mind of almighty Donald Trump.
According to motherboard.vice.com, the official White House website had a lengthy information page about the threat of climate change and the steps the federal government had taken to fight it.
It said Donald Trump ordered for its removal.
President Trump is said to have called climate change a hoax and that it was not caused by human activity so, as if God wants to tell him that climate change is real, in recent weeks, from Miami to Puerto Rico there had been devastations of many states by hurricanes of all forms, hurricanes Irma, Maria, Harvey, terrible storms and wild fires in California.
In his response to the fears of Journalists, Mr Salaheddine Mezouar, President of COP 22 in Marrakech, said the election of Donald Trump was not a threat to the Conference of Parties, “We have to keep trust in this momentum period, “The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 105 countries and entered into force so that if one party withdraws it does not compromise the agreement,” he noted when he highlighted the progress COP22 had made so far and where it was heading to in those coming weeks.
The Paris climate accord is an agreement within the UNFCCC dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.
In the Agreement, each country determines plans and regularly reports its own contribution it should make in order to mitigate global warming.
Ghana joined the global community by signing the UNFCCC in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro and has since remained committed to it.
Ghana ratified the Convention on September 6, 1995 and also ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 26 November 2002 by Parliament and deposited the instruments for ratification in New York in March 2003 and ratified Paris Agreement on Climate Change on 4th August 2016.
Ghana’s National Climate Change Policy with an implementation period between 2015-2020 addresses four major areas of concern related to climate change and climate variability in the country, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and loss of carbon sinks, increasing temperatures, rainfall variability leading to extreme and unpredictable events; and sea-level rise.
The NCCP process further identified ten Policy Focus Areas for addressing Ghana’s climate change challenges and opportunities.
Each of these areas has a number of specific programmes for addressing the critical actions necessary to achieve the desired objectives.
The Policy Focus Areas are; Developing climate-resilient agriculture and food security system, Building climate-resilient infrastructure, Increasing resilience of vulnerable communities to climate-related risks, Increasing carbon sinks, Improving management and resilience of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems.
Others are addressing the impact of climate change on human health, Minimising the impact of climate change on access to water and sanitation, addressing gender issues in climate change, addressing climate change and migration; and Minimising greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change impacts sensitive sectors of the economy including, water, agriculture, coastal areas, health, energy and cities and infrastructure.
Presently Ghana is faced with the fight against illegal mining, popularly called in local parlance as galamsey because it is destroying the environment, polluting the rivers and killing water bodies, rivers depleting the forest cover. This has implications for the sustainable livelihoods of many especially farmers and fisher folks.
A media coalition against galamsey took up the fight this year with the support of government. Efforts are being made to reclaim depleted lands.
In the northern part of the country, the land is fast becoming a desert with erratic rainfall patterns which affects farm produce coupled with lack of irrigation dams to enable farmers to have prolonged farming seasons.
As part of preparation to rush the country into the climate talks, a Pre COP23 festival was held in Accra on the theme; ‘’the risk we do not want.’’
Panel discussions were held and panellists discussed areas such as priority issues of the UNFCCC for African Negotiators, Integrated climate risk management and Ghana’s accession to the African risk capacity, Paris climate agreement, Ghana’s climatic and environmental policy implementation mechanism and the subsequent repercussions it would have on the country and continent as a whole .
According to the panellists, mitigation and adaptation are priority areas with adaptation being the utmost priority area to the Africa group negotiators which includes Ghana future plans, aspirations and recommendations that would be made for the effective implementation of subsequent policies, projects and programmes on the subject of climate, environment and the subsequent impact.