Religious bodies charged to pressurise policy makers on climate change

Participants at a three day national conference on climate change for religious bodies have been charged to put pressure on decision makers and implementers to be more proactive on the issues of climate change.

“Climate Change is threatening the development agenda of the country and by engaging policy makers and project implementers would help to reduce the fast rate of the change,” Professor Chris Gordon, Acting Director, Institute of Environment Sanitation Studies of the University of Ghana said on Monday.

He said, the country’s dependence on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry and hydropower made the nation vulnerable to climate change and variability.

The objective of the workshop is to empower participants to become crusaders in fighting against activities that affect the environment.

About seventy participants drawn from religious faith-based organisations, civil society group and selected Non-Governmental Organisations are attending the conference on the theme: “The role of religious bodies in climate change”. The Religious Bodies Network (RELBONET) is organising the conference.

Speaking on the topic: “Global Climate Change and Implication for Ghana and the Climate Change process”, Mr. Gordon said climate change impacted on agriculture production and food security especially cocoa production.

He said climate change affects rainfall, temperature and water availability for agriculture in vulnerable areas in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Increasing temperature and decreased rainfall will lead to shift in cocoa growing belts with predicted changes in temperature of about 4.5 degree Celsius by 2080; cocoa production will not be possible because excessive rainfall lead to increase in disease incidences and increase in pathogens”.

In a speech delivered on behalf of the Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Mr. Peter Dery, National Coordinator of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) said climate change was a threat to the world’s supply of fresh water and world food supply as rising temperatures and prolong drought rendered fertile areas unfit for grazing or crops.

Mr Dery emphasized that, Climate Change was endangering the very ground on which nearly half the world’s population live, in coastal cities such as Accra, which face inundation from rising sea levels. It is causing billion dollars weather related calamities and destroying vital ecosystems such as forestry and coral reefs.

“Climate change is a threat to peace and stability as millions are forced to leave their homes in search of more sustainable environmental condition at the same time also offers developing countries a number of opportunities with respect to additional financing, leap frogging of technology and regional integration”, he said.

“There is the need to build capacity to enable us adapt to the situation… This country has a strong commitment to assist in building capacity not only for adaptation but also mitigation”.

He said his outfit recognised that the country lacked concrete national policy on how climate change should be incorporated into the broad national development agenda such that the use of innovative approaches to tackling climate challenge would be realized.

Mr. Dery said a vibrant multi-sectoral National Climate Change Committee had been constituted and tasked it with an overreaching responsibility of developing a national policy on climate change.

Right Reverend Francis Amenu, Moderator of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church said studies had shown that Ghana was at risk from climate variability effects such as coastal erosion, threats of desertification arising out of the southward drift of the Sahara due to forest and land degradation and excessive floods that displace communities and low crop yields from erratic rainfall that threaten food security.

He urged the public to get involved in awareness creation campaigns and other educational activities that would awaken the public to the effect of climate change on the population.

He called on the government and all policy implementers to engage and involve religious bodies to build capacities of stakeholders in the fight against climate change.

In a speech read on behalf of the National Chief Imam, Mr. Khuzaima Osman, Executive Secretary of Sonsetfund, said the issue of climate change must be taken seriously by everyone since its effects were widespread, hurting the earth and all the species that dwelt on it including human beings.

Mr Osman said, “we must therefore realize the need for every individual and group and for that matter religious bodies to be climate change and environmentally conscious beings”.

Source: GNA

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