2015 UN Climate Change Summit in Paris: Africa Must Go As a Team
A legendary broom stick of Ghanaian folklore says: “When I stand alone I cannot sweep and even a baby can break me up into pieces. But when we are bound together we sweep beautifully and a giant cannot break us up into pieces!”
UN Climate Change Summit 2015
On Saturday, August 22, 2015, the Daily Graphic carried a well-researched feature on page six (6) of its GLOBAL OUTLOOK column. The academic piece was written by no less a person than H.E. Jon Benjamin, the British High Commissioner to Ghana. The headline of the article was: “100 Days to Paris – Securing a Global Deal and Transitioning to a Low Carbon Future.”
It was the sub-heading “Securing a Global Deal and Transitioning to a Low Carbon Future” that fascinated me. In Political Ecology of Global Environmental Politics, it is known that when countries engage in debates during negotiations at global forums of the UN World Environmental Programme (WEP), some advanced nations tend to adopt some funny tricks or strategies to their advantage.
Analytically and critically, I read the High Commissioner’s article with rapt attention. And I could deduce that if the author is not an expert in environmental issues, then he a fantastic writer who knows his stuff. I have enjoyed every bit of his argument and totally agreed with him on all five critical points raised, except one. Although I cannot claim to be an environmental expert, it is from that point of disagreement that I am struggling to write this article for the attention of African environmental gurus. I should be pardoned for my ignorance mercifully!
Contribution to Global Warming
First of all it has been noted that out of 17-paragraph-exposé, the author named Ghana eleven times and the European Union five times. But he did not mention his own country Britain at all. In fact, the article did not refer to any individual European nation by name except Paris, the capital of France where the summit takes place in 100 days. Why did the author not mention any European country by name? It is simply because all European nations are going to Paris under the banner of the European Union. They are not attending the summit individually as Britain, or Germany, or Italy, or Portugal etc. Is Africa Union (AU) alive and kicking?
In paragraph 11 of his article, the learned High Commissioner wrote: (…) “For all these reasons, the EU has and will continue to play a strong climate active role in contributing to global climate agreement. Recognising that we have a common responsibility to reduce global emissions, the EU submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC) in March.” Then he added: “Our contribution commits us to a binding target of at least a 40 percent domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels).”
From the above quoted paragraph, our beloved Diplomat was informing the world about the 40 percentage point of greenhouse gas emissions the EU has agreed to reduce. What the High Commissioner did not tell the globe is what percentage of greenhouse gas emissions EU has contributed to the rise or increase in global warming since the 18th Century to date.
It is common knowledge that it was the Great Britain that started the industrial revolution. And it is in Europe that some of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are climatically devastating. How many industries or greenhouse gas emissions has Ghana contributed to global warming or temperature rise levels globally since the creation of the world? Ghanaian scientist should find out!
Diplomatically, however, the writer commended Ghana highly for “mitigation actions” as far as climate warming and greenhouse gas emissions were concerned. His concluding paragraph reads: “We very much hope that Ghana will be a vocal advocate in Paris of an ambitious global deal that keeps all of us on track to achieve the grand total average temperature from increasing beyond 2 degrees Celsius more than it was in the pre-industrial age.” Ghana may be having her fair share of global warming, but who set the industrial age into motion?
Furthermore, in January 2014, Concordia University, based in Canada, conducted a study on global warming and it was found out that of about 194 member states of the United Nations, just seven (7) of them were contributing to over 60 percent of total global warming. The study identified the United States of America, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany, and United Kingdom as being the biggest contributors of “man-made global warming.”
The research indicated that out of the seven, the US alone is responsible for global temperature increase of 0.5 degrees Celsius, that is about 20 percent of global warming. China and Russia 8 percent, India and Brazil 7 percent, UK and Germany 5 percent. Not a single African country was among these biggest global climate offenders, let alone Ghana. www.natureworldnews.com/article/5664/20140116/seven-nations-contributed-60-percent-global-warming-study.htm
If not yet, then it is suggested the AU should quickly convene a meeting of environmental experts for the Continent to adopt its “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC)” like the EU, before December 2015!
· The author works with the Information Service Department (ISD) Accra. firstname.lastname@example.org