Ghana to start funding green cities, prepare for mass layoffs at its mines

Environmental awareness may have started on “red planet” but Ghana now seems to be leading the way when it comes to tackling the global warming crisis, said world leaders last week at the United Nations summit on climate change in Poland.

Halfway through a four-day meeting, where nearly 190 world leaders pushed for progress on climate change, Prime Minister Nana Akufo-Addo said at a press conference: “This is a moment when we are dealing with the climate problem in the first place. We must begin to take action now. We must begin to develop a system of policies and procedures that will ensure that the emission of greenhouse gases will continue to decline to a tolerable level. And we must begin to take it forward to a globally acceptable level by the year 2050.”

Photo: Abiatu Aziz/The Guardian

As part of the development, the government plans to dramatically increase spending on the environment and promote more eco-friendly technology. As The Guardian reports, it has announced five new city-wide initiatives that it says will help reduce the country’s environmental footprint.

The green strategy includes implementing the Green Cities Project, for which an $8 billion investment is being sought. It would be Ghana’s first-ever major public investment in the nation’s green and sustainable urban areas and has been inspired by Germany’s national Green Streets initiative that provides clean, walkable streets in more than 180 cities. The goal is to “be green everywhere in the country within a few years,” said Akufo-Addo.

The environment minister, Kate Fox, said: “Ghana is not just a deep sea port. We need to diversify into industrial city or ICT industry for sustainable growth and poverty alleviation. But we cannot become self-sufficient if we continue our mining and agriculture dependency on agro-fuels, which are highly polluting and have poor economic and social value.”

Photo: ABIDUTU AZIZ/The Guardian

The Green-Revolution website estimates that about half of the national budget goes towards current commodities use, which contribute to the climate-change crisis. Not surprisingly, another $7.4 billion a year will be needed to provide Ghana with the financial sustainability it needs to improve its environmental performance. Fox said that this is the first time the private sector has been involved in funding this. A team at Ghana’s AfrAsia Bank recently completed a feasibility study for the Green City Project and is currently working on a concept plan, said Akufo-Addo.

Another $1.5 billion will be spent to improve transportation by improving the country’s existing train and bus infrastructure. However, the project will also provide small businesses with access to credit for the purchase of environmentally friendly equipment, such as bus engines, solar lights, and hybrid cars. As the government hopes, the work done in urban areas will help to improve environmental performance in rural areas where many families currently live in poverty and depend on agriculture and wood use.

If the climate is to change, Ghana is leading the way. The future is at stake, and it is its responsibility to ensure that its citizens are not left without the means to better their lives. For the sake of future generations, the New Dawn, The Guardian, and Panoramio present this week’s “state of play.”

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