To put it simply, climate change is any alteration in the global climate. NASA describes it as a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, to Earth’s atmosphere.
Climate change includes global warming and is driven by human-induced emissions of the greenhouse from mainly energy use –about two-thirds of all emissions– for electricity generation, heating, industry, and transport. Combustion of fossil fuels also releases air pollutants that harm the environment and human health.
The European Environment Agency, EEA, notes that in Europe, energy processes are the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, being responsible for 78 percent of total EU emissions in 2015.
Though the use and production of energy have a massive impact on the climate, the latter could also potentially alter energy generation and energy needs. For instance, changes to the water cycle have an impact on hydropower.
Such effects have been the price populations have had to pay for the high-level industrialization and globalization the world enjoys today. Climate change threatens people with food insecurity, water scarcity, flooding, infectious diseases, extreme heat, economic losses, and displacement. Climate experts say the world needs to do all it can to avert global warming reaching 2C; theguardian.com points out what could happen in just a 2C hotter world.
Says according to an analysis of 70 peer-reviewed studies by Carbon Brief: Seas could rise an average of 56cm or nearly 2ft; 30m people in coastal areas could be flooded each year by 2055; 37 percent of the population could face a severe heatwave at least every five years; 388m people could be exposed to water scarcity and 195m will be exposed to severe drought; maize crop yields could fall 9 percent by 2100; the global per-capita GDP could fall 13 percent by 2100.
Yet, it’s only a few years now that global influencers have had success trying to rally the world into acknowledging how hot everyone’s business is making the world. After several years, global efforts to mitigate climate change have culminated in the Paris Agreement of 2015.
Through the agreement, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal and legally binding, global climate deal. The target of the agreement — limiting the global average temperature rise to well below 2 °C, while aiming to limit the increase to 1.5 °C — is ambitious and cannot be achieved without a major overhaul of global energy production and consumption.
This is why most of the world’s major oil corporations, such as Shell, have committed to transition to low-carbon technologies, and effectively made about 70 clean-energy deals, as of September 2019, dealing in high-quality solar solutions as part of their business portfolios.
Climate Change In Africa;
Africa is the most exposed region to the adverse effects of climate change despite contributing the least to global warming. While accounting for negligible carbon emissions, and about two percent of world coal demand, it is already disproportionately feeling the impacts of the changing global climate in terms of higher temperatures, drought, changing rainfall patterns, and increased climate variability.
Devastating cyclones affected three million people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe in 2018. GDP exposure in African nations vulnerable to extreme climate patterns is projected to grow from $895 billion in 2018 to about $1.4 trillion in 2023—nearly half of the continent’s GDP.
Yet, experts indicate that if the world fails to step up climate action, continuing on the current course could force 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. Research from the New Climate Economy shows that bold climate action could deliver at least US$26 trillion in global economic benefits between now and 2030. It could also generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs by 2030.
According to brookings.edu, “delivering the benefits of a new climate economy requires ambitious action across key economic systems, creating the conditions for the phase-out of coal and rapid scale-up of renewables in the energy sector; investing in shared, electric, and low-carbon transport in cities; scaling up sustainable food and land use systems, including forest landscape restoration; targeting investment to resilient water infrastructure; and reducing emissions from key industrial value chains, such as plastic.”
For this reason, many African countries are making serious efforts to transition toward low-carbon technologies, low-carbon and resilient infrastructure, and low-carbon tax systems. Morocco, for example, has built the world’s largest concentrated solar facility to help achieve the country’s goal of a 52 percent renewable energy mix by 2030.
The advanced 6,000-acre solar complex, Noor, serves as a clean energy source for around two million Moroccans and provides pivotal job opportunities as the country transitions away from the fossil fuel industry.
South Africa’s Carbon Tax Act, which places specific levies on greenhouse gases from fuel combustion and industrial processes and emissions, came into effect in June 2019. By 2035, the carbon tax is anticipated to reduce the country’s emissions by a probable 33 percent.
Even Nigeria, which struggles with electricity access for a majority of its population, has set a renewable energy target of 30 percent by 2030. This goal underscores the potential for both grid-based and decentralized renewable energy investments to deliver energy access and climate change benefits simultaneously.
While the private sector is driving the shift into renewables, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the energy sector—in Africa and globally—are lagging. African governments can meet this need to support reform in the SOE sector by introducing competitive procurement for electricity supply, subsequently leading to a reduction in RE prices.
Ghana’s Climate Story;
For the West African country, Ghana is not immune to the general climate change concerns afflicting Africa and the world, especially as the energy sector is heavily reliant on hydro sources for power generation.
The national economy further stands to suffer from the impacts of climate change because of its dependence on climate sensitive-sectors such as agriculture, energy, and forestry. As such, attention is being paid to these challenges, especially since ratifying the Paris Agreement.
The government through the Renewable Energy Master Plan has indicated that between 2019 and 2030, it would work to increase the proportion of renewable energy in the national energy generation mix from 42.5MW to 1363.63MW, with a grid-connected system totaling 1094.65.
Thus, through diverse initiatives, the country is making necessary efforts to achieve its targets, including adopting renewable energy technologies and nature-based solutions. Part of these solutions has involved a recent ban on illegal mining and the attempted reclamation of mining sites, water bodies, vegetation, and forests.
For this, about 60,000 young people have been employed to help restore degraded lands, and have, so far, planted 24 million trees covering an area of 190,000 hectares in 2020, said Roselyn Fosuah Adjei, Director, Climate Change and National REDD+ Coordinator at the Forestry Commission.
Ghana, she explained, developed an ambitious sub-national emission reduction program covering the 5.9m ha cocoa-forests mosaic landscape in the southern half of the country. Ghana expects to generate about 598.2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in emission reductions, over the life of its REDD+ program. REDD+ is the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) in developing countries.
Launched in 2008, it delivers support to partner countries via direct and complementary tailored support to the design and implementation of national programs, as well as technical capacity building.
Meanwhile, on an organizational level various public sector institutions including the Volta River Authority and the Bui Power Authority have greatly diversified their portfolios to include renewable energy sources particularly solar, wind, and other mini-hydro. Different companies in the private sector have also joined in to either deploy the technologies themselves or market them to consumers.
The discourse on renewable energy in Ghana is getting more extensive by the day as the government is using all available media to promote individual and corporate shifts to low-carbon technologies. It is also campaigning for the public to accommodate the use of fuel-efficient vehicles to help increase the national strides against climate change.