The central goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep the average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees. About one degree of that rise has already happened, underlining the urgency to progress much further and faster with the global clean energy transformation. Off course, this is also tired to the success of the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal 9: to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. To pursue this inclusively, the global south will need to actively involve its informal economy as well as add value to some of its primary products.
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.”
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.
On Earth Day, Ghana Youth Environmental Movement – led by Gideon Commey, and Green Africa Youth Organization – led by Tunza ambassador, Joshua Amponsem held a street press conference to educate the public on coal fired power plants, its associated health implications, and ecological impacts.
For the first time, an environmental street campaign in Ghana attracted foreign journalists and local media houses. The press conference witnessed journalists from China Central Television (CCTV), SET TV from Taiwan, Pulse TV, TV3 in Ghana, Graphic Ghana, and many other local radio stations.
The event commenced with a welcome address from Joshua Amponsem (Tunza Eco-Generation Ambassador), Nat Martin (Canadian Environmental and Human Rights activists) and Gideon Commey (Founder, Ghana Youth Environmental Movement). A press release article on coal power was read out to the general public, following which we took questions from the media and public concerning their understanding and awareness on coal power plants.
Nat Martin addressing audience at the street press conference on coal.
Most of the questions were geared towards economic stability which will arise if the country possess a constant power supply. However, this argument was disputed by Joshua. He iterated that, power generation from coal is not cheap as presented. Coal waste – particulate matter from the power plants causes health and ecological hazards that could cost the country twice the amount being spent on coal power generation. He also furthered to say, Ghanaians are hungry for constant power supply but the solution is not coal but #renewables.
Media houses present at the event asked series of questions concerning the position of the country during COP21 and the current quest to introduce coal into the country. Climate advocate, Gideon Commey, responded that the country’s decision to bring coal to Ghana contradicts with the commitment of global leaders to fight against global warming and climate change.
Gideon M. Commey answering questions from media.
He mentioned that the President of Ghana, HE John Dramani Mahama, should be mindful of his role as the Co-Chair of a group of 16 influential global figures supporting the UN in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
When asked by the media about the next step of action if government does not heed to the protagonism of environmental activists for solar instead of coal, Joshua Amponsem responded that, activists will travel to the proposed coal project community and educate the community on adverse effects of the project they about to receive. Joshua stressed that the ecological impacts of coal fired plants were so high and therefore, as passionate environmental activists, they will push to the limit until renewable energy is considered as the best alternative to fixing Ghana’s energy crisis.
The event ended with a loud campaign song led by guitarist and environmental enthusiast, Seyram Gh, who composed the song during our walk for solar campaign last year.
2015 was noted worldwide as the year of global action and 2016 has begun well with many shut-down of dirty energy sources and large investments into renewable energy. Despite this progress, environmental protection is not yet at its peak and even minimal in some regions of the world. This clearly indicates an urgent need for advocacy and literacy in environmental protection and sustainability. Youth and the working age group of the world – who are active and energetic need to stimulate a change in attitude and lifestyle. We (children and youth) are the future leaders and if we do not comprehend the importance of sustainable development, environmental sustainability and poverty alleviation, then the future ahead of us will be full of crisis.
30 years from now, it would not matter the kind of fancy car you ride, or mansion you have or even the yacht or jet you owe but what will matter most, is the quality of your environment – the air you breath, the water you drink and the food you consume. Will your children play around or walk to school wearing goggles and nose masks because the air is so polluted and smoggy? Probably, there will be no suitable waters, peaceful enough for you to enjoy the sail of the yacht you are dreaming of. There might be inadequate and less quality food products which will pose threat to your health, no potable water to drink – not to talk of other domestic usage. But wait, we are not there yet! We can avoid this, we are the youth, the future leaders and the global majority, our actions may not reverse global warming or climate change but surely, it can halt a warming planet and save our dying earth. Scientist project that we will need thrice the size of our planet in 2050 to sustain us and cater for the waste we generate but kindly note that there no planet for us. We have no certain plan B to Earth; attitudinal change and individual commitment to eco-friendly lifestyle is our way out – my plan B and yours too.
Over 1 million plastics are used every minute, globally – by whom? As a youth, ask yourself the number of times you shop in a month or even a week, the quantity of unneeded clothes, shoes and accessories you have in your closet, the number of technological devices you owe, the amount of water you use in a day and the quantity of waste you generate daily. Have you thought of your ecological footprint and how your lifestyle will inflict pain and discomfort to generations yet unborn? Change is difficult but I am sure it is more difficult to be recognized as a mass murderer of innocent kids than changing your lifestyle to save lives. You do not want to be mentioned as the generation that depleted majority of the planet’s resources and left is vulnerable for future generations to suffer.
Act now, youth of today. Stop wearing make-up every day, you are too young for that; Do not buy the newest technological device while the old one is not faulty and can still satisfy your needs, save that money and donate to credible humanitarian organizations to affect lives; Reduce the intake of red meat, climate effect has already caught up with us; plant a tree and contribute to global carbon reduction target; Adopt the purchase of organic farm products and campaign for organic farming; You do not need new clothes, shoes and accessories every week, the old ones can still serve their purpose; walk short distances and stop burning fuel unnecessarily. Start a garden in your home and eat what you grow. We are young, energetic and ambitious, we have a lot of fantasies and wishes, but it can all come to naught if we do not change our current lifestyles.
A daily post on a healthy environmental conscious lifestyle via the social media can save the world, you do not know the number of people who will believe and practice what you post. Use every available platform to campaign for sustainability because it is the greatest humanitarian act you can ever offer. Be the change you wish to see, stop the critics, do not blame only your president for the sanitation menace, water crisis, poor environmental quality, unemployment or the status of your economy – for our current human activities can cause disasters like flooding to collapse our built economy. Contribute your quota; start now, it is never too late. Let us reach 2030 with dignity and pride, knowing that we are protecting the environment whiles developing sustainably.
Author: Joshua Amponsem, Executive Director, Green Africa Youth Organization. (www.amponsem.wordpress.com)