President Akufo-Addo has expressed the disappointment of Africa with the wealthy nations for not playing their part as they themselves promised, as far as funding climate change programmes are concerned.
According to him, the wealthy nations promised their poorer counterparts $100 billion annually to assist the continent of Africa fight against climate change, but this has not been fulfilled.
He regretted that despite reneging on their promise, the same wealthy nations are insisting that Africa abandons the opportunity for rapid development, adding that would be tantamount to enshrining inequality of the highest order, a totally unacceptable conclusion.”
Addressing the UN Climate Change Conference, COP 26, currently underway in Glasgow, Scotland, President Akufo-Addo said Ghana will work to combat climate change, but not at the detriment of the development of the country and its people.
According to the President, it was wholly unfair for the wealthy nations, which developed through natural resources, to today demand that Africa abandon the exploitation of the same resources for its own growth.
He said “Ghana acknowledges the importance and effects of Climate Change and the urgent need to combat it and we acknowledge equally the importance of protecting our development. We believe that a balance must be struck and maintained between our social, economic and environmental imperatives,” he said.
Africa blessed with natural resources
President Akufo-Addo stated that Africa as a continent is endowed with natural resources meant to help its people have a better life. He could not fathom why the continent, as poor as it is, would have to desert its natural resources, especially when many nations have just discovered them.
He said, “The Almighty has blessed our lands with abundant natural resources and it would be wholly unfair for the world to demand that Africa abandon the exploitation of these same resources needed to finance her development, and to help us to cope better with the threat of climate change, at a time when many countries on the continent have only just discovered them,” President Akufo-Addo said.
We must find a solution
Further, President Akufo-Addo, whose address represented the position of Africa, though he had only led the Ghana delegation, told the conference that the western world is responsible for 76% of carbon emissions.
However, President Akufo-Addo was of the view that a solution that is equitable and fair must be looked for.
A solution, he said, that levels the playing field, recognises the historical imbalances between the high emitters and low emitters, stressing that Ghana, therefore, supports the call for debt-for-climate swaps, which will address a multitude of issues in one swoop.
COP 26 as a turning point
The President, thus, urged world leaders to use COP 26 as a turning point to create a more prosperous, greener, and fairer world.
The world he advocates for should maintain the balance between the social, economic and environmental requirements of all nations of the earth, rich and poor.
He observed that success in this endeavour is the greatest inheritance the world could leave for current and future generations.
Protecting Ghana’s Forests and Oceans
President Akufo-Addo also participated in the World Leaders Summit on protecting the world’s forests and oceans, held on the sidelines of COP 26.
The President in his address described deforestation and forest degradation as the greatest challenges to sustainable forest management in Ghana.
He stated that Ghana has, in the course of the last two decades, adopted several policies and programmes, such as the National Forest Plantation Development Programme and the Ghana Forest Plantation Strategy, aimed at restoring its lost forest.
“In June this year, I led the entire country, through the Green Ghana Project, to plant over seven million trees, far above the five million we had targeted. Next year, we aim to plant a minimum of twenty million trees, and we have already begun earnest preparations towards this,” he added.
Reiterating Ghana’s commitment to sustaining her ocean, the President added that the country is putting in place the requisite structures and processes to finalise her Sustainable Ocean Plan by 2025.
“The pressing threats we face are marine security, due to the prevalence of piracy and armed robbery on our seas, the mounting menace of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing (IUU), overfishing and its attendant decline in fish stocks, and plastic pollution,” he said.