President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that the government has taken a bold decision to make climate change an integral part of the national development agenda.
He told a gathering of world leaders, leaders of multinational organisations and international civil society organisations in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday that all government policies and programmes would have a direct bearing on the need to protect the environment.
Speaking at a panel discussion at the R20 Austrian World Summit on Climate Change in the Austrian capital, the President explained that the inclusion of climate change reversal policies in the national agenda took its basis from the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13.
Since then, he said, concrete steps had been taken to ensure the reversal of the deterioration of the environment.
President Akufo-Addo was one of the four-member panel of world leaders who led the panel discussions.
He explained that from the period when former President J.A. Kufuor was co-Chair of the Paris Agreement Summit, the principles of the agreement had always been considered by the people of Ghana.
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The President said to protect the environment and reverse the devastating nature of climate change, the government had mandated the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to develop and execute policies that would address climate change issues in their respective medium-term development plans.
Giving specifics, he said on assumption of office two years ago, he took the bold decision to ban the activities of illegal miners in the country because they were destroying farm lands, river bodies and forest reserves.
He added that the harvesting of rosewood timber had also been made illegal as part of the measures to protect the environment, save the green nature of the forest and protect endangered timber species for the benefit of generations yet unborn.
President Akufo-Addo noted that after the ban on illegal mining, the government had instituted measures to reclaim destroyed lands and that, in the process, 20,000 youth had been employed to plant 10 million trees on the reclaimed lands and other deforested areas across the country.
He indicated that the programme, dubbed: “Youth in Afforestation”, was part of concrete moves to tackle climate change.
He said Ghana remained committed to promoting the deployment of renewable energy by achieving a target of 10 per cent renewables in the energy mix, from the current one per cent.
That, he noted, would move the nation towards realising its international obligations under the SDGs on access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.
President Akufo-Addo announced that the Jubilee House, which is the seat of the Presidency, would be powered by solar energy in the course of the year, as an example to other public institutions, and that the target would be to install 200 megawatts of distributed solar power by 2030 in both residential and non-residential facilities and in state agencies.
President Akufo-Addo said he had also been engaging with some selected groups of captains of industry from the private sector to drive Ghana’s “Green Agenda”, in the context of the SDGs.
He noted that the response had been very positive, with the chief executives coming up with the commitment to establish a Green Fund, to be financed largely by the private sector to drive Ghana’s agenda of affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all.
“What we do in Ghana affects the people of Nepal or Mozambique or Austria. That is why we need concerted global action to tackle this menace. Success in addressing climate change will be one of the greatest legacies that our generation can give to the next,” he added.
The Chairman of R20 Regions of Climate, Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger, who used to be a film star, called on world leaders, multinational companies and other interest groups to refrain from the usual rhetoric and act fast to save the planet.
He said in developing environmentally friendly industries and products, this generation would save the world from destruction, preserve it for the next generation and avoid the destructive consequences of climate change.
He said there was enough evidence showing that cities, countries and industries that used environmentally friendly gadgets and renewable energy became profitable and saved their environment at the same time.
The President of the World Bank, Madam Kristalina Georgieva, announced that the bank was working in Ghana to help scale up the use and integration of renewable energy.
She expressed worry that although poor and developing nations contributed minimally to emissions of greenhouse gases, they were at the receiving end of the consequences of such emissions.
She, therefore, called for swift and sustainable actions to reverse the trend and ensure that the world was safe from pollution and the destruction of the environment.