Tag Archives: Environment

Should Ghana ban plastic?

From DW: http://www.dw.com/en/should-ghana-ban-plastic/a-37122891

Ghana is swimming in plastic waste. Should the government introduce a plastic ban? In a guest commentary by climate advocate Joshua Amponsem, he speaks to Ghanaian activists about the future of plastic in the country.

DW Sendung Eco@Africa Joshua Amponsem (Reinhold Mangundu)

Plastic waste fills the streets and chokes gutters, rivers and lakes in Ghana’s cities and towns. The problem is so urgent that the country’s government announced plans to impose a partial ban on light plastics in mid-2015. But a backlash amongst business leaders and policy makers forced the government to abandon the plan and instead propose a new law that would force plastic manufacturers to make biodegradable plastics.

The move makes Ghana one of the few countries to commercialize oxo-biodegradable plastics, as they are known. Still, most industries are refusing to comply with the new standards. Save a few businesses such as Ghanaian water firm Special Ice, a majority are still selling water in standard plastic, for instance. As a result, the plastic problem persists.

With plastic manufacturers’ reluctance to make their product biodegradable, is the plastic ban in fact the way to go? It’s a pressing question for environmental activists like myself and I asked it of a number of young active citizens who gathered from all parts of Ghana in January for the first edition of the “Active Citizenship Webinar.” Here are the results.

DW Sendung Eco@Africa Müllkippe (Joshua Amponsem)Plastic waste is a huge problem for Ghana. Here polythene bags burn at a dump in Akrofuom

Some believed a plastic ban wouldn’t work. It’s a waste resource that should be utilized and banning it could have an adverse economic impact. Samuel Boakye, a business consultant living in Accra, asked: “How much of our population is able to gain employment from the sale and manufacture of these bags? How would the ban affect such people?” He believes the government must instead increase recycling and help provide necessary capital to facilitate the use of plastic waste for the production of other plastic products like chairs, tables, and bowls.

Speaking as an environmental advocate, I mentioned that employment and the economy could get a boost if plastic bags were banned and replaced with paper and cotton versions. People won’t lose their jobs, they will sell paper and cotton bags instead and we will need more farmers as a result. Furthermore, I explained that in Kumasi, a city in southern, Ghana, cotton bags were successfullly introduced in December ahead of Christmas.

Either way, say environmentally-conscious Ghanaians, the country needs to deal with its plastic problem, as its water bodies are gradually being filled with waste and fishermen sometimes end up with a bumper catch of plastic rather than fish. “Preserving our marine life, such as turtles, is very critical because it can generate more foreign exchange as tourists come in to observe turtles on our beaches at dawn,” Belinda Kulordzi, a history student at the University of Ghana, said. Educating people about the harmful effects of plastic waste is key, she added.

DW Sendung Eco@Africa Plastik (Joshua Amponsem)So far nobody in Ghana has come up with a way to deal with waste. Here plastic is disposed of inappropriately

But Kelly Anyomitse, a public health activist and the curator of the Active Citizenship Webinar, highlighted the fact that education will take several years to change the attitude of Ghanaians toward plastics. He asked whether we could rely on education alone, given the extent of pollution and the resulting damage.

Ghana’s plastic problem has persisted for years and so far nobody has managed to come up with a robust approach to managing it nationwide. Ultimately, those taking part in the discussion believe a mix of different approaches is the best way to tackle the problem.

Increasing the price of plastic bags would make them unaffordable and unattractive to many people and would cause a gradual, organic phase out. People would be more likely to opt for cheaper paper bags and more expensive, but long-lasting cotton bags. With nuisance plastic bags more or less gone, existing recycling companies could then focus on collecting and recycling water bottles, leaving us with cities free of light plastic waste.

As active citizens of Ghana, we are hopeful that our nation will place more value in protecting the air, food and water offered to us by Mother Earth and in ensuring quality environmental standards to promote good health and a better life for all Ghanaians.

Joshua Amponsem, is an environmental activist and climate advocate with a degree in Environmental Science. He focuses on youth mobilization for environmental events and advocacy through volunteerism, and social media. While an undergraduate, he founded Green Africa Youth Organization – a non-profit organization, which serves as an advocacy anchor in environmental protection. With strong love for nature, Joshua works for environmental transformation in Africa through leadership and collaboration with like-minded youth activists and organizations across the world.

WORLD CLIMATE EVENT BY GREEN AFRICA YOUTH ORGANIZATION AT KUMASI HIVE.

The World Climate simulation event gives people a taste of what it is like to be a negotiator at the UN climate change negotiations. World Climate was developed by Climate Interactive, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) Climate change Initiative. In view of this, an event was organized by the Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) with support from Climate Interactive and the University of Mohammed VI Polytechnic in Morocco at the Kumasi Hive, Kentinkrono-Kumasi.
Over 60 people registered to attend the event while 40 people made it to the event excluding facilitators and organizers. The event was attended by environmental enthusiasts, civil society groups, public servants working in the field if environment, and mostly young environmental graduates. The event lasted for four hours and was coordinated by Joshua Amponsem (GAYO), and Benson Adjei (CSI).
Our event kick-started at around 10:30 GMT and Audra Tufuor simulated as IPCC scientist to give a brief presentation on climate change, after which co-facilitator, Benson Adjei, introduced World Climate to the participants. Joshua Amponsem introduced the formal section and divided the organizations into their 6 bloc groups – U.S.A, EU, China, India, Other Developed Countries, and Other Developing Countries. Additionally, people played the role of the press and also delegates to represent Climate Activist groups. Joshua launched the first round of negotiations and delegates commenced the 1st round of negotiations.

Prior to the commencement of the first round, Ms. Ivy Gyimah (Head of Research, GAYO) played the role of Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and gave a wonderful opening speech which really formalized the opening of the simulation event. Following her speech, Joshua Amponsem also gave a short speech as the UN Secretary General.
After about 10 minutes, the first round came to an end. We launched C-ROADS to reflect delegate’s commitments but delegate’s commitment did not meet our 2degC target – however, we had a financial commitment of over $150b with much coming from U.S.
Following that, we opened the second round of negotiations. During the second round, participants felt much more involved with their role. EU proved to be very difficult in agreeing to funds rather than the US.

The representatives from the developing countries seemed too timid and out of the game – they had poor negotiation skills. China seemed to be more responsible and wanted to negotiate with the US in terms of fund and carbon reduction. The other developed countries had no trouble at all with negotiations – their commitments were just right. India had great ideas and spent so much time talking to EU for funding and collaborative investments towards green technology – which was okay.
At the end of the two sections, the nation’s decisions were fed into C-ROADS software to calculate if the goal of groups to limit global warming to “well below 2˚C” compared to preindustrial levels was met. The results from the computer showed the nations have only limited global warming to 2.3˚C which means more intensive actions have to take place to reach the 2˚C goal. China and the US made changes to enable us meet our 2deg C target.

After the World Climate simulation, room was made for contributions and comments. A number of contributions and comments were made by the participants;

  • Climate change is least talked about on the news.
  • We have to organize climate change awareness programs.
  • We have to bring out a lot of climate change innovations.
  • Many participants pledged to expand knowledge on climate change.
  • About 5 participants were interested to organize a World Climate Event

In conclusion, the program was successful and was impressed by the participation of the youth-led organizations with their presence, contributions and comments to the event. It was an opportunity for young people to play such active role as country leaders and also having given them the opportunity to learn more on climate change.
The next World Climate Simulation events will be organized by GAYO in Cape Coast, Sunyani, and Takoradi.

My Tweet Chat on Climate Change

On the 10th of August 2016, I was hosted by  Climate Change Initiative of Africa to discuss the causes and impact of climate change to a global audience on Twitter. With the hashtag #CHAINafrica, over 40 people were actively engaged with the discussion.

Please find below the tweets I shared with the audience.

  1. Thank you @ClimateChange54 and everyone who is here to learn more about #ClimateChange. I am very pleased to be sharing my story with you. 
  2. Thank you @@skosei001 @ for having me. @rasbugri @DorrenDorys @BalrajArpit I acknowledge your presence.
  3. @AmponsemJoshua is a climate advocate and an environmental scientist from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. #CHAINafrica
  4. #ClimateChange refers to a long-term significant change in the Earth’s climate – mainly temperature, over several decades. #CHAINafrica
  5. Major changes that factors in #ClimateChange includes #Temperature, #Precipitation, #Wind Patterns, #Humidity. #CHAINafrica
  6. Importantly, #ClimateChange can occur Naturally ( eg. by volcanos) & also by artificial activities – man made. #CHAINafrica
  7. How & when did mankind cause #ClimateChange? Any ideas? Think?#CHAINafrica
  8. Beginning the 20th century, man decided to advance – urbanize & modernize. That’s when it begun. Eg. Burning #FossilFuel! #CHAINafrica

9.The results of Urbanization & #Modernization was & is an increase in atmospheric Greenhouse Gases #GHGs. #CHAINafrica

  1. Through urbanization we utilized more Earth resources and altered the planet’s Greenhouse Effect! #CHAINafrica Then #GlobalWarming begun.
  2. When the sun shines on earth, some is reflected & some becomes heat via #GHGs. #CHAINafrica
  3. The trapping of heat from sunlight by GHGs is naturally designed to keep the average surface temp of Earth🌏 around 14▫C.#CHAINafrica
  4. Without GHGs (CFC, CO2, Sulphur Oxides, HFC, methane, etc), the average surface temp of Earth would be -19▫C (very cold). #CHAINafrica
  5. Meaning that, we cannot survive without GHGs and we also cannot survive if they exceed too much background concentrations. #CHAINafrica
  6. Simply put, the higher #GHGs concentration, the #hotter the Earth will be. #CHAINafrica
  7. What is the data behind all these talk on #ClimateChange? Share with me if you have any data regarding #GlobalWarming #CHAINafrica
  8. June 2016 was the hottest June in modern history & the 14th consecutive month that heat records have been broken. #CHAINafrica
  9. World Bank analysis: Ignoring #ClimateChange can put 100million more pple into poverty by 2030 – 43million will be in Africa. #CHAINafrica
  10. Just as the risks of #ClimateChange are immense, so are the rewards of #ClimateAction if we invest in our people & our Earth. #CHAINafrica

 

 

 

Awarding Environmental Enthusiast and Nurturing Eco-Leaners

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.

award   award2

award3

 

MY 3rd TALK ON GLOBAL WARMING AT THE AMUDURASI COMMUNITY SCHOOL.

On Friday, 29th July 2016, I was at another community school to talk about Global Warming and how it relates to climate change. This is my last education program on Global Warming before I prepare my Global Warming report. For this community school, I focused more on climatic effects of Global Warming on the community while illustrating much larger/global impacts of Climate Change.
The headmistress of the school was very happy that I chose their school among the many schools within the Amudurasi communtiy. Upon starting my presentation, I asked so many questions regarding environment, global warming, and climate change. Their response was quiet good, I was surprised that some of the students even mentioned fossil fuels and renewables prior to my presentation.
Noting that the students had fore knowledge on GHG and fossil fuels, I went straight ahead to explain how GHG and fossil fuel burning contributes to global warming. It was very interesting and I got excited to award the most exceptional student and also announce him as an eco-leaner.
As I went ahead with the presentation, I explored with the students and we came to a conclusion that irregular rainfall pattern, acid rain, and excess warmth in the atmosphere are the major impacts of global warming in Amudurasi. Occupation in Amudurasi is dominated by farming, and cutting trees for firewood and thus, I highlighted that they are contributing massively to Global Warming if they do not replace the trees they cut.

More so, most of the students expressed that current temperatures are usually between 30 – 35 degrees celcius, a very warm temperature. I also shared in my experience how tiring it was to walk about 30 minutes under the sun while getting to the school premises – the weather was hot and I was full of sweat.
Later on, I mentioned hunger, poverty, migration, flooding, tsunamis, hurricane, sea level rise, and etc as other global impacts of Global Warming.
To conclude, I selected 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. I have decided to award him a Samsung Branded 8 Gigabyte Pendrive. I will visit his school later this week and give him his award and announce the second Eco-Leaner in Ghana. I am hopeful to establish Tunza Club in Ghana through this initiative.

talk 2

talk

talk 3

 

Awarding Young Environmental Enthusiast

Right before noon today, just around 11:00 GMT, I had the awesome opportunity to present my promise to this brilliant and most participating student during my recent global warming education at the New Edubiase District Assembly Junior High School which I shared the report just last week.
In my report on my Global Warming Education visit to the school, I mentioned on how the students were so misinformed and ignorant on Greenhouse gases. Almost the entire school populous had no good meaning for GHG or Greenhouse effect – only 5 out of 70 students were able to give an example of GHGs.
After educating them on Global Warming at the school, I requested that one student should summarise everything I have taught them during the talk. Solomon Eshun, a student in the class, surprised me by summarising everything I said during the talk. He touched on all the important aspects of GHG, Greenhouse effect and how it relates to global warming. The young boy also mentioned on modernization and urbanization during his summary.
Having demonstrated this effort, I voluntarily decided to award Solomon Eshun with a brand new school bag.

Today, I was there to hand over his lovely leather bag to him right in front of his peers. He has received the motivation to be a young environmentalist and I have endorsed him an eco-leaner in the school. Periodically, I will contact the school to track his performance as an environmentalist and eco-leaner. I am proud that I could do this. Thank you and try to do same.

class presentation2 with Solomon Eshum present presentation

MY 2nd TALK ON GLOBAL WARMING AT THE ST. JOSEPH RURAL COMMUNITY SCHOOL.

 As Eco-generation ambassador to Africa, I desire to engage children and youth to test their knowledge on global warming in Ghana. Just yesterday, I was at the New Edubiase District Assembly School to talk about Global Warming – to my surprise none of the junior high school students knew about Green House Gases and the Greenhouse effect. Today, I took up any task to visit rural community school where major economic activity is agriculture. It was a long ride to the rural community and I was welcomed by lots of children between the ages of 10 – 17 years.

 

I introduced myself as Tunza Ambassador and begun questioning them on general environmental sustainability (recycle, reuse, recovery, reduce and refuse), hygiene and sanitation. Later we all discussed pollution – air, water and land. Following that, we launched into air pollution as a topic and discussed much further details. Although a rural community school, this school had a fair knowledge about global warming and greenhouse gases. They however had a misconception on Greenhouse effect and Global Warming. They attributed Global Warming to superstitious roots such as Gods punishing men for their sinful deeds and a few also mentioned that they have not experienced any increase in temperature over the past years, thus to them, everything is okay.

 

At this point, my challenge was how to transform the mind-set of these little ones from superstition to science and logic. I had to take them back to Greenhouse effect and its relation to modernization. I also initiated a global perspective of global warming rather than just looking at it from the weather condition of just a small rural community. Additionally, I had to clear the scepticism of their teachers such that they can give examples of changes in weather condition since their childhood until now that they are adults.

 

At the end of the day, the children agreed that contributors to atmospheric carbon are now diversified and nonpoint rather than their initial thought that mankind and burning of wood for charcoal was the only source for carbon emissions. Also, they agreed that there is an ongoing warming climate following a brilliant example of reduction in local river channels given by their teachers.

 

I received a lot of questions from the students:

1.      Why is Earth the only habitable planet to Man

2.      How is Global Warming related to sanitation related diseases?

3.      Can burning rubbish increase Global Warming?

4.      Does open defecation affect Global Warming?

5.      How does Recycling and Reuse affects Global Warming?

6.      Can our Earth Die?

 

These and many more questions did I receive from them. It took me almost an hour to answer these questions plus additional ones. For every answer I gave, it gave birth to a new question. The teachers and staff of the school congratulated me after the talk. They set about additional 30 minutes for me to explain the concept of Climate Change since they heard it during my talk. As tutors and local farmers, they were more interested in the science of climate change and how to mitigate it. I explained to them and also enhanced their knowledge on climate mitigation and adaptation.

I look forward to engage more youth on the issue of Global Warming this month.

Group 4

group