This is an interview I had with Sharon Mijares, a passionate environmentalist, an author, and a tutor of Ecopsychology at National University, California. The interview was to help her students to get a broader understanding of Ecopsychology and what other young people are doing at the grassroots level to help restore our relationship with Nature.
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.
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.”
Yesterday was my birthday (08-08-2016) and I awarded a Tunza Eco-generation branded storage device to the most participating student during my 3rd talk on global warming at the Amudurasi community school.
During my 2nd talk on global warming, I awarded Solomon Eshun a school bag for being very participative during the talk. His communication and commitment towards environmental protection and energy efficiency after my visit to their school is said to be commendable. In view of this, I decided to award another student during my 3rd talk on global warming at the Amudurasi community.
After talking to the students on Global Warming, I concluded by selecting the most participating student to summarize all that I have taught them during my presentation. He was able to talk about Global Warming in his own words and I was very pleased. Although the staff of the school were not pleased that he was not able to summarize my talk in English, I was personally happy that he could explain to his colleagues using their native language – which illustrates his true understanding of Global Warming and his ability to educate illiterates on the need for a cumulative action towards our warming planet.
I announced to the school and his colleagues that I will award him a Tunza Eco-generation Branded 8 Gigabyte storage device when I visit the school again. Last Friday, I was there to give him his award and named him as my second Eco-Leaner in Ghana. Together with Solomon Eshun – first Eco-Leaner (whom I first awarded a school bag) I will train them to be environmental advocates in their community.