Category Archives: Climate

World Climate Simulation with High School Students in Ghana

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Climate Change Talk with Business Support Associates

For the past two months, I have been working with a group of business support associates in Ghana. Through my social media platforms and engagement, they identified that I was a climate activist and also through social conversations, they were keen to understand climate change – the science and why it is a relevant topic that needs global attention.

So, on Monday 28th November, I did a presentation to explain the science of climate change to about 30 young people of different backgrounds but working in a business field with SMEs. I also shared a bit of my COP22 experience with them. Most of them knew what climate change was but did not have a clear understanding on the cause and how they play a role in mitigating climate change. I started by explaining GHGs and also how modernization has impacted our climate. Most people raised issue of fuel based economies and how these economies will collapse if the world should totally go renewable. We dialogue on the issue for about 5mins and concluded that economies such as the US has made huge investments towards fossil fuel and that’s why it’s difficult for some investors in the country to accept clean energy. Despite these known hurdles, I led the discussion to inform my audience that leadership and governance is what we need to combat climate change. Countries need to be sensitive to the challenges of other countries that are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Relating to their question on how climate change is important and why it has global attention, I explained to them the impacts of climate change and used sea level rise as an example of how climate change could flood all major cities in the world in the next 15 to 30 years.

At the end of the talk, I had a good feedback from the junior consultants and together we all discussed eco-friendly lifestyles which could contribute to alleviating the impacts of climate change and also reduce our carbon footprint. As a gesture of green living, I gave them Samsung and UNEP Tunza stick note souvenirs and pens  which made of recycled papers.

Five West African Countries Avoids Dirty Fuel from Europe

A number of West African countries have been sourcing fuel from Europe and reports (beginning earlier and mid this year) indicates that these European fuels do not meet the expected emission standards. In Ghana, the issue had risen in public discussions when first discovered and some environmental and health activists had used social media to publicize the issue to raise awareness for better fuel importation into the country.

According to UNEP, last week, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire has introduced strict regulatory standards that will ensure cleaner, low sulphur diesel fuels, and better emissions standards, thus effectively cutting off Europe’s West African market. It was noticed that weak regulatory standards in West African countries had open a window for European low standard fuels to penetrate the West African market and could cause ecological and health hazards. These fuels were identified to have higher sulfur levels that are up to 300 times higher than those permitted in Europe which contributes significantly to air pollution (reported by the non-governmental organization, Public Eye). Considering that sulfur is a toxin and contributes a lot to global warming as it is a Greenhouse Gas, it has become essential for these nations (vulnerable to climate change) to restrict the use of such fuels.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), these move was taken by the countries to address concerns over vehicle emissions and in an effort to bring safer, cleaner air to more than 250 million people that reside in their region. The head of the UNEP in a statement mentioned that the act practiced by these five nations to strengthen their regulatory standards sends a strong message that they no longer want any dirty fuels from Europe. In addition to new fuel standards, the group of West African countries has agreed to upgrade their own public and private refineries to meet the same higher standards by 2020.

Noting that it takes so much resources to clean up pollution, it’s definitely better to stop the pollution from occurring. It must be recognized and commended that these nations are putting their health and the ecology first as air pollution is known to kill millions annually. The head of the UNEP also added that there is a need to urgently introduce cleaner fuels and vehicles to help reduce the shocking statistics.

The UNEP has been working with countries in West Africa to develop policies and standards that will stop the import of fuels with dangerously high levels of sulphur, as well as to introduce cleaner fuels and vehicles. Reducing such emissions around the world is essential to ensure levels of urban air pollution and climate emissions come down.

UNEP hosts the Secretariat of the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV), a global public-private partnership that supports a shift to cleaner fuels and vehicles worldwide. When PCFV began its work in 2005, not a single low or middle income country used low sulphur fuels. Today, 23 countries have made that shift. Another 40 are on their way to doing the same.

In addition, UNEP is hosting the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which recently adopted a global strategy for moving the world to clean, low-sulphur fuels and advanced emissions standards. Experts estimate that this measure will save an annual 100,000 premature deaths by 2030.

 

GPIW: Inner Dimensions of Climate Change, Marrakech 2016.

Continuing from my previous blog post, (https://amponsem.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/gpiw-inner-dimensions-of-climate-change-marrakech-2016/):

Rev. Richard Cizik continued to mention how Christians have failed to be caretakers of the Earth as illustrated in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Dr. Aliaa Rafea also spoke from the Islamic perspective and stated how the Qur’an teaches human to appreciate and be compassionate to all creatures. Dr. Fassil Gebeyehu mentioned how science has taught us the two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen produces water. In reality, if all natural water bodies should cease to exist, can we produce water by adding hydrogen and oxygen?

Sraddhalu Ranade, spoke more of the impact of modern science on today’s generation. He spoke about how the life in plants is being lost through genetic modification of seeds. The nutrient value of food (which is the life of the food) is now lost and many conscious people keep reading labels from one shop to the other in the quest to get natural foods. Humans have migrated from being part of the food web to becoming controllers of the food web. He shared a practice of his native people, where children are taught to thank and apologize to Mother Earth before placing their feet on the floor when the wake up every morning. These indigenous knowledge and practices shaped the thoughts of young ones to see the life in Mother Earth.

From the youth perspective, Rosalyne Baddoo highlighted the severity of the effects of climate change in Africa – especially in the field of Agriculture and Water Resource. Additionally, Barbara Hachipuka shared an amazing story of how she has been able to sign thousands of rural farmers onto her natural agriculture which does not involve in fertilizers or chemicals. Her story was inspirational as it reflected all the various hurdles she has to overcome in order to get rural farmers to understand the benefits of organic farming.

DSC_0664.JPGIn a dialogue on the loss of indigenous knowledge, I had the opportunity to talk about education, value, and purpose of the African indigenous knowledge. I mentioned how many African communities have so much embraced television, western education and culture, and totally neglected our traditional learning habits (By the fire side: where children sit round the fire at night and listen to stories of wisdom from their grandfathers and the aged in society)

The informal dialogue had so many aspects of engagements which cannot fully be described in a single blogpost. I look forward to share with you our time spent at the Atlas Mountain and also our amazing side event at the Green Zone of COP22, where Venerable Bhante talked about Greed Emissions, Hatred Emissions, and Ignorance Emissions as the roadmap to achieving reduction in carbon emissions.

GPIW: Inner Dimensions of Climate Change, Marrakech 2016

The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change 2016 gathered young professionals and practitioners of ecology in Africa together with global spiritual leaders to dialogue on the inner relations of people (including societies, religion, believes, etc.) and how this is essential in fighting the big war humans have spurred with nature. Despite using moral suasion as a strategy during my numerous environmental education programs in Ghana, attending this retreat as a delegate was quiet extraordinary. I had little knowledge on how inner connections and spiritual beliefs influence the conscience of people to live in harmony with Mother Earth, although religion plays a functional role in moral suasion – where I hold people responsible for being stewards of Earth based on the teachings of their religion.

The five day dialogue commenced with a deep interaction between individuals at the retreat and their inner connection with nature. Senior mentors and spiritual leaders shared their inner recognition and relationship with nature (plants, animals, the sun, the moon, water, etc). This was a beautiful session as it helped many delegates including myself to realize their connection with nature through many essential activities and thoughts. Jana Long told a story about her connection with plants and flowers; Ahmed Kasirye mentioned how he could communicate to plants and animals; I furthered to share my connection with water – I elaborated on the strength I receive from nature whenever I spent time beside a water body; similarly, Dena Merrium also shared her experience with the Ganga river in India. There were many stories to share, and more personal relations to nature were discussed among delegates during breaks.

Following that, Tiokasin Ghothorse, an indigenous and spiritual leader revealed the strength of languages as a medium through which living beings have been regarded as objects.  In order for the world’s population to see the importance and the need to preserve nature, we must first understand the component of our planet. In many of his speeches, he reiterated how we have condemned the life in water, seeds, and even the food we eat via calling these “living beings” as object. In their native language, water is referred to as (paraphrased) ‘that which connects life through all life forms’ – this brings consciousness and life rather than being called water (an object). As an indigenous Sundancer from the Lakota Nation of South Dakota, he mentioned how their native language has no words like property, and dominion. These words triggers the human conscience to take dominion of nature rather than being stewards of nature.

Continue reading from here: https://amponsem.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/gpiw-inner-dimensions-of-climate-change-marrakech-2016-2/

The next blogpost highlights on the youth perspective of climate change in Africa, indigenous knowledge, and other faith/cultural based practices that unites humanity with nature.

 

Joshua Amponsem becomes a World Climate Ambassador.

Joshua Amponsem found Climate Interactive’s tools essential in his work as a young environmental activist in Ghana. In the last three months, he has been mobilizing young people, social entrepreneurs, and universities across Ghana to experience World Climate simulations, and hence, inspiring them to take climate action. We asked Joshua how World Climate simulations were relevant for building the capacity of new climate leaders in Ghana.

 

Grace: How would you describe the climate challenge in Ghana?  

Joshua: Ghana’s government efforts towards climate change adaptation and mitigation are currently progressing steadily with the support of international organizations and civil society activism. However, there is a huge knowledge gap among citizens. Over the few past years, civil society organizations have increased their climate education efforts. While policies reflect climate action, implementation has not reflected much effort. Sustainable production and consumption is neither implemented nor communicated adequately. Water bodies are being destroyed and water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure is poor. It’s even worse when we experience floods. Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) acknowledges that more needs to be done. World Climate is helping us bridge this knowledge gap and inspire climate action.

Read Full Story here: https://www.climateinteractive.org/blog/joshua-amponsem-from-ghana-becomes-a-world-climate-ambassador/

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World Climate Event in Cape Coast

The World Climate Simulation in the University of Cape Coast brought together exceptional environmental science students, scientists, and also visiting students from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark who were under Kultierstudier programme in the university.

The event commenced with a brief education on climate change (science, impacts, and solutions) by Joshua Amponsem who co-facilitated the event with Benson Adjei and Laura Periera (PhD). Benson Adjei, introduced world climate event to the audience and from facial expressions wed could see a promising negotiations ahead of us.

There were about 100 participants who were grouped into the 6 geographic blocs while designating 10 people as Press Corps and 12 people under the Climate Activist bloc.  Briefing notes and were given to all blocs and the NDC form was given to the 6 regions.

Laura, a visiting lecturer from South Africa, simulated as the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. She gave a wonderful speech to open the first round of Negotiations. The 6 regions had about 15 mins to digest their briefings and make their commitments known to the house through the proposal form.

After submitting their NDCs (proposal), C-ROADS was launched and the submitted data was inserted. Surprisingly, delegates from Other Developing countries exhibited high demand for funds (requesting for $70b per year) while also demonstrating a good willingness to act on climate (committing fully to REDD = 1). Other Developed countries also amazed us with their strong proposal of 8% fractional rate of decline per year while commuting fully to REDD and Afforestation (=1).

Putting all the data together, we reached a global warming of 2.7degC. Although not our desirable target, the reach was much better than our previous event in Kumasi – where we reached 4degC after the first round of negotiation.

To open the most exiting part of our event (2nd round of negotiations), the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC – Laura, urged all delegates to make their best commitments to reach a 1.5degC or maximum 2.0degC. “You need to make better commitments to protect our agricultural systems and for human survival.”

To spur a greater negotiation, the UN Secretary General – Joshua Amponsem, said “Climate Change will affect everything we love as humans but more importantly, our food, water, and the air we breath. As leaders, you have a one time opportunity to make a change that will save our future. Planet Earth depends on you.”

On this note, negotiations begun and the first bloc to make a move was the Climate Activists. They had delegates advising and pressuring China, EU, and US to increase their financial contributions while limiting their CO2 emission growth. EU and the other developed nations seemed to have gotten along very easily as they both exerted pressure on Developing countries, China & India to increase their afforestation from 0.2, 0.6, and 0.7 respectively, to 1.

Following that, there was a sudden fierce argument over the EU bloc. Notes from the press corps indicate that EU was only willing to contribute significantly to the Global Fund if China gives above 20% of the targeted fund and if US contribute up to 50% to the fund. Successfully, there was peaceful negotiations between the Other Developed countries and the US.

Additionally, India and Other developing countries formed a union of friendship. They presented a joint proposal to US and China. China agreed to the proposal and gave $20b to the global fund. EU also agreed to their proposal and acknowledged their responsibility – EU contributed $30b to the fund and a 5% fractional rate of decline while starting their decline at 2060 instead of their earlier 2080. However, activists spoke against that and the EU decides to stop emission growth at 2030 while starting decline at 2035.

India seemed very ambitious and US was willing to give money rather than reducing their emissions. After about 50 minutes, all the countries submitted their terms and commitments. It was really difficult to put an end to the negotiations as many delegates were still engaging their colleagues in other terms and deals. It was really amazing to see the reaction of some of our participants from Europe who were representing India and other developing countries.

After feeding the proposals to C-ROADS, we reached a 2.4degC. Joshua Amponsem and Natasha Verco reiterated the impact of global warming and why it is necessary to reach a 2degC. With that, delegates from Other Developed nations and those from Other Developing countries swiftly opted to strengthen their commitment. They both increased their fractional decline rate to 10% per year and also decided to stop their emission growth at 2030 while they both committed fully to REDD and afforestation.

After these changes, our global warming decreased to 2.2degC. The room was full of suspension as everyone looked up to US to make a change. However, delegates from India and Other Developing Countries united to put up a proposal to China. They proposed that China increase their fractional rate of decline to 12% and US to move their REDD and afforestation effort to 1. US agrees to that but China only agreed to 10% instead of 12%.

Like magic, we reached 2degC with these changes. The house gave marvelous applauds to delegates who pushed for the changes that made it possible for us to achieve our target.

Participants gave their feedback (see below) during the debrief.

Emmanuel Marfo: “It is really enlightening to experience this event and I’ll be looking forward to participate in such events.”

Anonymous: “This is a nice conference and my first time to such an exposure. I already feel like Prez. Obama. Its great to have such a taste of decision making. I appreciate it and I think more if this should be happening on campuses.”

Sylvester Osei:  “Developing countries had a tone of vulnerability and needed help. I think this is good because we are not the future leaders; we are the present leaders and very soon we might be taking similar roles at the international levels. So thank you organizers for bringing this training and I hope we will be ambassadors for Climate Change.”

Mm Hasana: “The event is so practical and we have been exposed to climate negotiations & we’ve also had the chance to appreciate what delegates know what happens at the international level. As youth, we have been given an opportunity to be part of decision making and also to take up leadership role in environmental issues.” She added, “Climate Change is realistic lets try and do in our own capacity the very little we can do to make this 2degC realistic. It starts from us and we should take up the challenge.”

Lovisa: “It was a perfect experience. We enjoyed discussing with each other – it was fun to be in debates with other countries and see what they are up to.”

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