A new report on the Physical Basis of Climate Change by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) has revealed how global temperatures would continue to rise and weather extremes becoming more intense if there is no radical and immediate action to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

According to the UN Secretary General, the reading is bleak and the threat to humans and the Earth is severe, adding it’s “A Code Red for Humanity”.

Environmental NGO, A Rocha Ghana is therefore urging government to align biodiversity conservation as a crucial imperative to deal with the impending danger. In a statement, the NGO noted that, action to be taken by Ghana is also critical to the overall global action.

“We need to prioritize mitigation and adaptation mechanisms more than ever”, the statement added.

What the report says

According to the report, the increasing pace of sea level rise – reaching an average 3.7 mm yr-1 for 2006-2018 – will continue for 100s to 1000s of years as the warmer temperatures continue melting glaciers and ice sheets. Other changes are also locked in for decades due to emissions that have already happened. This means that, even if GHG emissions are radically reduce immediately, some changes will still occur.

Using five levels of GHG emission scenarios to model how the climate system will react, the report explains how the impacts get bigger as the emissions increase. While 2oC global warming is extremely unlikely by the end of the century under the low emissions scenarios, it is very likely within just 20-40 years under the very high GHG emissions scenario. Sea level rise under very low emissions will be half the rise projected for very high levels.

Impacts identified specifically for Africa include increased monsoon rains for West Africa over the mid- to long-term, and delays in both their onset and retreat. Frequencies and intensities of rainfall and flooding will increase over most of Africa and Asia even at a 1.5oC rise in temperature. With a 2oC rise, droughts will be more severe and frequent across many regions of Africa, South America and Europe and these temperature rises are almost certain to happen soon – at 1.5oC by 2021-2040 and 2oC by 2041-2060 – under the high GHG emissions scenarios.

Taking Action in Ghana

Reacting to the latest IPPC report, A Rocha Ghana called for the need to ensure all investments, public and private, prioritize and enhance the adaptive capacity and help build resilience at all levels of governance and socio-economic development sectors.

“Government must do far more to protect and strengthen Ghana’s safety nets such as food sovereignty, forests and protected areas, natural water resources and biodiversity. Current national and decentralized processes to integrate climate action within our Nationally Determined Contributions and Medium-Term Development Plans are great and should prioritize investments and implementation beyond planning and excellent documentation. The national processes should endeavour to align biodiversity conservation as a crucial imperative”, the statement said.

It said, farmers need support from government and others to adapt and build resilience to climate change through training in sustainable agriculture, and access to seeds, equipment, services and other inputs, adding, urban, rural and coastal areas need protection from threats of flooding, storms and sea level rise.

The NGO also suggested that, a critical action is taken to stop all developments on floodplains and areas that protect coastal communities from storm surges, and more crucially, prioritize security for all mangrove ecosystems in Ghana.

According to the statement, Ghana’s forests must also be protected as they help communities adapt to climate change, reduce the damaging impacts of storms, stop soil erosion and landslides, provide clean water even when other sources are polluted by floods, keep people cool in extreme heat, strengthen food security, and so much more.

“Delaying action will place an immeasurable burden on our children and could make Africa uninhabitable due to the extreme heat, as temperatures are rising far faster here than the global average. There is still time to reduce the impacts. But we need radical action now, and not more delays”, the statement added.