‘Lead crusade against climate change’ Monday, August 2, 2010, pg 61

The Moderator of the Evangelical Presbyterian (EP) Church,Rt Rev Francis Amenu, has called on religious organisations to lead the crusade against climate change in the country.

He said “as religious bodies, we are obliged to do something very drastic and durable to save the situation of environmental degradation that has been going on for the past decades and in no small way assist to restore nature to its pristine state and value for generations to come.

According to him, the core work of religious bodies was not only to assist the poor and marginalised in society but more importantly to take care of the creator’s handiwork and keep it.”
Rev Amenu was speaking at the launch of the Religious Bodies Network on Climate Change ( RELBOBET) in Accra yesterday.

The RELBONET is a coalition of faith-based organisations focused on partnering the government and other social partners to help mitigate the negative effects of climate change in the country and also to adapt, where necessary, to the changing environment.

The occasion brought together leaders of Christian and Islamic fraternities and civil society organisations (CSOs) championing the cause of climate change mitigation in Ghana.

Climate change refers to the long-term changes in the weather, including average temperature and rainfall.

Rev Amenu noted that climate change had become a very serious issue and that portrayed itself not only as a developmental challenge but also a cross-cutting issue across all sectors of global socio-economic life.

Touching on the expectations of religious bodies in the national climate change debate, Rev Amenu, among other things, called for a partnership between development partners in the design and implementation of climate change projects, the inclusion of faith institutions in national capacity building programmes and activities including the extension of financial support to faith-based organisations involved in the climate change campaign.

He pledged the support of the E.P Church in tackling the phenomena in Ghana, especially coming in the light of the church winning a global award from the United Nations for its afforestation project in Northern Ghana since 2002.

Launching the coalition, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev Dr Fred P. Degbe, said the effects of climate change were real and, therefore, stressed the need to adopt strategies that did not compromise the future of generations unborn.

The Minister of Environment Science and Technology, Ms  Sherry Ayittey, in a speech read on her behalf, commended the establishment of the coalition and pledged the support of the government in ensuring that the network achieved its objectives.

Ms Ayittey urged the network to transfer the success story of the contribution of religious bodies to the reduction of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country to reducing the impact of climate change in the country.

Mr Samuel  Dotse, the Country Co-ordinator of the Climate Action Network (CAN)-Ghana, a network of local and international civil society organisations (CSOs) working to combat harmful climate change,  in a presentation on: “The Role of CSOs in National Climate Change Discourse”, said the CSOs could be efficient in supporting and holding government accountable in formulating and implementing policy programmes and projects in adaptation, mitigation and technology development.

He said addressing climate change required the involvement of all stakeholders in all sectors of the economy to “take into account the need to reduce carbon emissions including disaster-risk reduction strategies leading to low carbon and climate resilient growth development path for Ghana.”

According to a Ghana Meteorological Agency, historical climate data on the main economic areas and sectors were threatened  by climate change, Ghana recorded a rise in temperature and a decrease in rainfall in all agro ecological zones in the country.

The report indicated that, that pattern would lead to increased desertification, bush fires, ocean warming, increased in vector-borne diseases with mitigating measures expected to cost $ 590m.

According to a United Nations report released in 2006 on climate change in Africa, up to 30 per cent of Africa's coasts could disappear as sea levels rise from between 15cm to 95cm in the next 100 years.

The report said the number of people at risk in Africa from coastal flooding would rise from one million in 1990 to 70 million by 2080.

It said Africa was particularly at risk because of its reliance on food from such a large amount of arid land. More than half of the continent's cultivable land is arid or semi-arid. Some 70 per cent of Africans and nearly 90 per cent of the poor work in agriculture.

The report said rainfall in the Sahel region, just below the Sahara region, had reduced by 25 per cent in the last 30 years.

Africa's tropical rain forests have also witnessed a fall in precipitation of 2.4 per cent each decade since the mid-1970s.

Droughts in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa have  also become more regular since the 1960s.

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