Author: Joshua Amponsem

Joshua Amponsem, is a young environmental activist with a degree in Environmental Science. He focuses on youth mobilization for environmental conservation and advocacy through volunteerism, and social media.

World Climate Event in Cape Coast

Green Africa Youth Organization  took the World Climate Simulation to Cape Coast. The event 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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GAYO Co-Founder Awards Eco-Learners

“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”.

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Ecological Footprint

Have you heard the word before, “Ecological Footprint”? Do you understand it? Do you know your footprint or that of your country or continent?

I will like to introduce you to Ecological Footprint:
Conceived in 1990 by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees at the University of British Columbia, the Ecological Footprint launched the broader Footprint movement, including the carbon Footprint, and is now widely used by scientists, businesses, governments, individuals and institutions working to monitor ecological resource use and advance sustainable development.

Ecological footprint is the amount of biologically productive land (land that is sufficiently fertile to accommodate forests or agriculture or fishing grounds– they do not include deserts, glaciers and open oceans) and water needed to supply the people in a particular country or area with renewable resources and to absorb and recycle the wastes and pollution produced by resource use. It is measured in million/global hectares.

If a country’s or the world’s total ecological footprint is larger than its biological capacity to replenish its renewable resources and absorb the resulting waste products and pollution, it is said to have an ecological deficit.

The per capita ecological footprint is the average ecological footprint of an individual in a given country or area or how much of the earth?s renewable resources an individual consumes. In 2005 there were 13.4 billion hectares of biologically productive land and water available and 6.5 billion people on the planet. This is an average of 2.1 global hectares per person. Due to rapid population growth, this figure is decreasing.

Causes of global increase in ecological footprint:

Cultural changes have increased our ecological footprints. Culture is the whole of a society?s knowledge, beliefs, technology and practices. Man used to live by hunting and gathering but in recent times three major cultural changes have occurred:

  • Agricultural revolution (About 10,000-12,000 years ago)
  • Industrial-medical revolution (About 275 years ago) and
  • The information-globalization revolution (beginning about 50 years ago).

Each of these cultural changes gave man more energy and new technologies with which to alter and control more of the planet to meet our basic needs and increasing wants. Increase in food supply, longer life span, pollution, etc. have increased our footprints.

Current Situation:

Our current global situation: Since the 1970s, humanity has been in ecological overshoot with annual demand on resources exceeding what Earth can regenerate each year.

It now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.

We maintain this overshoot by liquidating the Earth’s resources. Overshoot is a vastly underestimated threat to human well-being and the health of the planet, and one that is not adequately addressed.

By measuring the Footprint of a population—an individual, city, business, nation, or all of humanity—we can assess our pressure on the planet, which helps us manage our ecological assets more wisely and take personal and collective action in support of a world where humanity lives within the Earth’s bounds. (http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/footprint_basics_overview/)

According to Global Footprint Network and World Wildlife Fund, if the current exponential growth in the use of renewable resources continues, it is estimated that by 2050, humanity will use twice as many renewable resources as the planet can supply. This means that by 34 years from now, all of us on Eco-generation will need another earth to survive. For example, USA has exceeded the earth’s biological capacity by 25% since 2006.

Global Footprint ecological footprints are grouped under the following thematic areas: Food, Building and living, Gardening, Mobility, Energy, Recreation / holidays, Personal care.

Which of these thematic areas do you fall victim to? Which of these thematic areas increases your daily footprint? I am guessing Energy (electrical gadgets, phone, laptop, etc.) and Personal Care (Soap, detergent, earring, clothing, make-up kits, pomade, etc) will be the answer to most youth on this platform.

By: Joshua Amponsem.

Recycling In Africa

Globally over 1 million plastic bags are used and disposed every minute but I think the quota of India and Africa of the 1 million trash is much larger than that of America, Europe and Australia – comparing population. In Africa, I will congratulate Rwanda as the only country which has been able to ban plastic bags. Other countries like Ghana has once mentioned and made an attempt to ban plastics but to no avail.

In Ghana, drinking water comes in plastic sachets rather than bottle, amounting a large amount of plastic waste in the country. In 2013, a report conducted by the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) indicates that 1,200,000 Ghana Cedis (/ $400,000) can be generated in the country every a month, if the plastics go through various stages towards recycling. According a local news platform “The Ghanaian Times”, the research was submitted to the local Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology’s Committee on the Ban of Plastics in Ghana and following that, a there has been a rise in plastic recycling initiatives.

The Accra Compost and Recycling, Jekora Ventures, EnviroPlast, are some of the performing companies dealing with recycling and composting in Ghana. Additionally, there are some amazing initiatives by NGOs, Non-Profits and other small and medium scale enterprises that are championing recycling at small scale. Trash Bag is one of these organizations. Trash Bags collects water sachets from streets and recycle them into sustainable fashion products – handbags, laptop bags, market bags, etc. In other parts of Africa, these sachets are used in art making.

Plastic waste recycled into handy bags and laptop bags.

In Kenya, group of individuals are converting plastics waste into poles and road posts. Started in 2015 and documented by Aljazeera, this initiative in Kenya is gradually creating employment and reducing (if not eliminating) plastic waste – Watch video here:

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http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/recycling-kenya-plastic-poles-manufacturing-151123051310205.html
In Central and East Africa, a paper recycling industry is also recycling waste paper into toilet rolls, tissue paper, egg crates and many more usable products. Chandaria Industries Limited provide livelihood and employment for over 5,000 people in Kenya from waste paper recycling. Comparatively, paper and metal recycling in Africa is much industrious than plastic and e-waste recycling.

South Africa is another country that is performing relatively better than most countries in Africa – with over 50 recycling firms operating at a larger scale and converting plastic waste into chairs, pipes, polythene bags, etc.

Waste generated in middle income country is somewhat much than high income countries and I realized it is so because developed countries have more recycling initiatives than middle income countries. In Central, East, West and some parts of Northern Africa, waste is a menace. It filth our streets, choke our gutters and causes land pollution. In 2014, Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Ghana was listed as the World?s largest e-waste dumpsite. Despite several reports concerning the health hazard of the electronic waste dumpsite, the site is still home to thousands of individuals – including scavengers, smelters and market women.

Gradually, I anticipate investors and entrepreneurs to see the business opportunity in recycling electronic waste in Africa.

Ghana Postpones Construction of Coal Power Plant

The Government of Ghana is expected to solve the country’s energy crisis through the construction of a 2x350MW supercritical coal fired power plant in Ekumfi Aboano in the Central Region of Ghana.

The project, which was initially scheduled to commence in August 2016 has been postponed to April 2017. The first phase of the project will see the import of 2 million tons per year of coal from South Africa and Colombia, and the construction of an administration block, offices, networks, turbines and a coal handling bay. According to Volta River Authority, the second phase of the project will generate 1,300MW of power and finally about 2,00MW of power to be generated during the final stages of the project.

The concept of supercritical coal power plants is basically to eliminate pollution from power plants and ensure air quality. However, there are severe environmental concerns on behalf of citizens since the concept of ‘supercritical coal power’ or ‘clean coal technology’ is very expensive and difficult to be practiced. With a current investment of $1.5bn, many energy access practitioners are having doubts on the utilization of funds to reduce externalities and ensure proper environmental and social performance.

The VRA has been very transparent in incorporating the concerns of the general public into the project development. VRA invited a number of advocacy groups to explain the concept of supercritical coal power plant and also to enhance public acceptance of the project. At the meeting, VRA confirmed that they cannot ensure zero pollution, however, they will do their best to reduce pollution to the very minimal. Despite the promise, the ‘#NoCoal2Ghana’ campaign being led by the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, Green Africa Youth Organization and the Ghana Youth Climate Coalition, is continuously growing over the social media and threatening the prevalence of the commencement of the project.

According to VRA, it has become necessary to invest in coal power primary to meet the country‘s increasing demands (7% Growth – GRIDCo) resulting in energy demand of 47,342 GWh by 2030 and a peak load of 7000MW. It also seeks to improve supply reliability with a base load plant, matured and proven in technology to provide electricity with unrestricted fuel.

The supercritical coal power plant is a joint venture between the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Shenzhen Energy Group of China and estimated to cost $US1.5bn – funded by the China African Development Fund.

POWER SHIFT – GHANA, 2016.

POWER SHIFT – GHANA, tagged as the nation’s largest environmental youth gathering was held on May 14th at KNUST.  The event was organized by the Ghana Youth Climate Coalition (GYCC), Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM) and partnered Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO). Power Shift – Ghana 2016, attracted over 400 students, about 100 environmental activists, and solar energy practitioners to engineer Ghana’s transition towards clean energy.

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At the event, Mr. Kobina Nyanteh of Translight Energy (a solar firm) mentioned that Ghana needs to strengthen its policy to promote renewable energy investment. In his speech, he made known that students with interest in renewable energy should focus their research on some of the current hurdles faced by the solar sector – such as a pre/post-paid meter system. Mr. Maxmillian Kwarteng of Gramax energy also exposed participants to some of the advances in the solar industry in Ghana. According to him, solar panels are currently being manufactured in Ghana and that is expected to reduce the cost of solar installations in houses and offices.

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Dr. Kofi Boah, a renowned agriculturalist, asked young people to live a greener lifestyle and also focus on sustainable agriculture as a way of adapting to the changing climate.

Gideon Commey, founder of GYEM, led a climate reality presentation and explained the science, impact, and known solutions to climate change. The audience and students had a lot of misconception on solar energy, climate change and fossil fuel energy production Joshua Amponsem (Executive Director, GAYO) led the last session of the conference and answered the many questions the students had on fossil fuel.

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At the end of the event, GYCC collected over 500 signatures to support the petition of the environmental movement to the VRA and EPA of Ghana to reject the proposed supercritical coal plant.

Fossil fuel still remains the world’s largest contributor to the planet’s changing climate and thus, efforts to reduce carbon emissions means that energy production from fossil fuel (most importantly, coal) must be phased out and replaced with clean energy – renewables. However, the Government of Ghana (GoG) has advanced plans to construct a 2x350MW supercritical coal fired power plant in Ekumfi Aboano in the Central Region of Ghana. The project, initially scheduled to commence in August 2016 and now postponed to April 2017, will see the import of 2 million tons per year of coal from South Africa. It is a joint venture between the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Shenzhen Energy Group of China and estimated to cost $US1.5bn.

Environmental activists from GYEM, GAYO and GYCC has persistently campaigned against the GoG proposed supercritical coal fired power plant. The most recent events include the ‘Walk for Solar Campaign’ held in Accra right after COP 21 staged a in December, 2015 and the ‘Street Press Conference on Coal’ held on Earth Day 2016.

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