Ghana is highly vulnerable to climate change, which continues to pose a threat to future growth and development. Ghana is projected to become hotter and drier in the future, and the country will continue to experience temperature increases, extreme events like droughts and floods and the increase in frequency and duration of heat waves . Between 1960 and 2006, mean annual temperature of the country increased by 1°C, and is projected to increase 1 to 3°C by the 2060s, and 1.5 to 5.2°C by the 2090s . Projected warming will likely occur more rapidly in the northern and inland areas .
Rainfall in Ghana is highly variable and will continue to be so throughout the century. More erratic and intense rainfall during the wet season is expected, along with lower precipitation levels during the dry season. Intense rainfall events are likely to result in flooding and flash floods, as well as riverbank erosion. Approximately a quarter of Ghana’s population live along the coast in rapidly expanding urban areas like Accra and are especially vulnerable to flooding and waterborne diseases. In 2010, floods in the White Volta River Basin affected hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed many of their livelihoods .
Rising sea levels, drought, higher temperatures and erratic rainfall negatively impacts infrastructure, hydropower production, food security and coastal and agricultural livelihoods. Drought and reduced rainfall threaten access to reliable power sources, already erratic and insufficient. The climate and socio-economic environment in semi-arid, coastal and wetland areas across Ghana make communities vulnerable to food insecurity and unstable livelihoods, as well as leading to unsustainable agroecological systems, crop failure and unproductive rangelands. In addition, Ghana has a high degree of risk to natural hazards and disasters .
Despite Ghana’s recent transition to an industry and services-oriented economy, 45% of the workforce still relies on work dependent upon rainfed agriculture. Erratic precipitation patterns therefore have severe consequences for productivity. Rising temperatures are projected to lower yields in major staple crops (cassava, yams, plantains, maize and rice). Cassava yields, for example, are projected to fall by 29.6% by 2080 and maize yields by 7% by 2050. Cases of total crop failure are projected to occur approximately once every five years in Ghana’s northern region due to delayed or diminished rainfall. Cocoa, a major cash crop and the country’s second leading foreign exchange earner, is sensitive to rising temperatures as well as drought. Suitable areas for cocoa production, mainly along the coast, are decreasing due to temperature increase, floods, soil salinization and continued coastal erosion .
Ghana is one of the world’s lowest emitters of GHG emissions, contributing only 0.07% of global GHG emissions.
Ghana’s GHG emissions and short-lived climate pollutants inventory shows total national GHG emissions in 2016 were approximately 42.15 million MtCO2e, which was 66% and 7% higher than the levels reported in 1990 and 2012, respectively. The rising trend in GHG emissions can be attributed to demographic and economic growth.
This most recent data indicated that the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector was the largest source of emissions, especially land use change that converts forest into grazing and cropland. The energy sector was the second largest contributor to national emissions, half of which comes from fuel combustion in the road transport sector, and a third from thermal electricity generation. The third and fourth contributors were the manufacturing, industry, and construction sector, and the waste treatment and disposal sector, respectively , .
Key policies and governance approach
Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for coordinating the country’s national climate change strategy. Strategy leadership is conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation. Climate change is recognized as a cross-cutting issue in Ghana and policies and implementation include cross-sector efforts and coordination .
Ghana's strategy to tackle climate change is articulated in several policies and strategies including the National Climate Change Policy, which focuses on low-carbon growth, adaptation, and social development. Other policies and strategies include: the Low Carbon Development Strategy, the National Energy Policy, National LPG Promotion Policy, Strategic National Energy Plan and National Gas Master Plan, Renewable Energy Act, Energy Efficiency Regulation, Environmental Fiscal Reforms, Forest and Wildfire Policy and the National REDD+ Strategy .
Ghana has been praised for its well-developed National Climate Change Policy (NCCP), its Action Program for Implementation: 2015-2020 and a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to tackle climate change and disaster risks in the country. The NCCP identifies 10 focus areas with specific programs for addressing Ghana’s climate change challenges and opportunities, which are: develop climate-resilient agriculture and food security systems; build climate-resilient infrastructure; increase resilience of vulnerable communities to climate-related risks; increase carbon sinks; improve management and resilience of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems; address impacts of climate change on human health; minimize impacts of climate change on access to water and sanitation; address gender issues in climate change; address climate change and migration; and minimize GHG emissions .
In addition, Ghana also has a Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (2012), which oriented the approach of the national agenda from disaster response to disaster prevention and risk reduction. Mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into development planning and programs at all levels was the key axis of implementation. The National Disaster Management Act, 2016 (Act 927), effectively codifies this prevention-first approach, and establishes a National Disaster Management Fund .
In 2021, Ghana submitted its updated NDC to the UNFCCC, which covers 19 policy areas and translates into 47 adaptation and mitigation programmes of action. The 47 climate actions are expected to build the resilience of over 38 million people, generate absolute greenhouse gas emission reductions of 64 MtCO2e, create over one million jobs, and avoid 2,900 deaths due to improved air quality by 2030. The policy actions will lead to the following outcomes in the long term: Accelerate sustainable energy transition; Build resilient economies and societies; Enhance early warning and disaster risk management; Enhance landscape restoration; Ensure responsible production and consumption; Foster social inclusion focusing on youth and women; and Provide smart and safe communities .
SUCCESSES AND REMAINING CHALLENGES
Weak coordination at both the national and sub-national level was identified as a key barrier to implementing the previous NDC . Although Ghana has a National Climate Change Committee and a Climate Change Unit within EPA, there is no overarching coordinating entity to guide the country’s response to climate change. For example, while Ghana’s National Climate Change Master Plan Action Programs for Implementation: 2015-2020 identified the key institutions tasked to fight climate change effects, it largely did so in a piecemeal manner, missing a holistic perspective .
As a consequence, there is inadequate funding in the national budget for climate change activities (funding is largely donor driven and project-based), many Ministries, Departments and Agencies have inadequate access to resources to meet their prioritized financial, technical and capacity needs, and there is duplication of activities and funding (weak institutional coordination within government, among donors) . Funding is especially significant as Ghana’s NDC requires between US$ 9.3 and US$ 15.5 billion of investment for implementation between 2020 and 2030, and an additional US$ 3 million biennially to support coordination actions and the regular international reporting of the nationally determined contribution .
Initiatives and Development Plans
Ghana has developed the Climate Smart Agriculture Investment Plan (CSAIP) which identifies interventions that will help the agriculture sector better deal with climate change. The CSAIP produced evidence of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies that can offer the greatest potential to Ghana’s agriculture sector to increase productivity and enhance household incomes under a changing climate. It also provides opportunity for building the agricultural system’s resilience, and in doing so ensures that future agriculture practices do not follow a path that could threaten environmental integrity through green-house gas emissions, pollution of water systems or destruction of ecological systems . Ghana is also investing heavily in transforming its energy sector to a low-carbon energy sector, and in increasing its use of renewable energy generation in hydro as well as solar energy sources .
Climate change has been integrated in the school curriculum in Ghana . Reverend John Ntim Fordjour, the Deputy Minister of Education, says Ghana has made climate education a topmost priority in its reformed standard based curriculum. The Ministry of Education working with the Environmental Protection Agency has equipped teachers with knowledge on climate change to teach children up to the pre-tertiary level. In addition, they are looking for partners to bring climate change and green economy literacy to secondary education, and to work with teacher training institutions to strengthen climate change and green economy issues in the standard training programme for teachers .
- Obtain better understanding of the potential impacts of climate related risks to support decision makers and city planners in management of climate resilient urban growth and development.
- Enhance enforcement of environmental regulations, specifically for spatial development, sanitation, and flood and stormwater management.
- Identify immediate actions for improved climate-related disaster response and preparedness.
- Develop climate change and disaster risk preparedness awareness campaigns for citizens and schools.
- Develop a comprehensive Climate-Related Disaster Risk Management Plan, either standalone, or as a subsection of a National Disaster Risk Management Master Plan, with clearly defined actions to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate-related disasters.
- Link disaster and climate risk assessments to master planning exercises.
- Undertake detailed multi-hazard risk assessments; develop and implement climate change/disaster risk management plans; build capacity to ensure that cities, towns, and villages have contingency plans and effective standard operating procedures in place to address climate-related risks.
- Install nature-based and localized solutions for adaptation to climate change: maintain and create green and open urban space to improve air quality and reduce heat impacts; identify and secure areas to increase water retention capacity and reduce runoff through planting of trees; develop green areas on floodplains.
- Identify vulnerable settlements/communities, especially in densely populated urban areas; formulate a comprehensive slum upgrading and redevelopment strategy addressing critical vulnerabilities of poor/informal settlements (e.g. housing, access to basic services).
- Improve, extend, and support hydromet services and early warning systems: allocate adequate operational budget; build human capacity in numerical weather forecasting, seasonal climate outlooks, and information provision to targeted sectors (agriculture, hydropower, transport); supply routine hydrological and meteorological forecasts based on a sound concept of operations using state-of-the-art technologies to disseminate actionable information on climate risk; construct and equip observation stations, with higher-quality infrastructure and in more parts of the country, to allow for effective monitoring and accurate and quality data at the national and subnational levels.
- Enhance emergency coordination and disaster risk management operations capacity to ensure that all parts of the country are accounted for under the emergency operations center.
- Construct, repair, and strengthen flood management and drainage systems that retain water upstream, promote localized storm water management, are adequately designed and consider social and environmental constraints; resource sufficiently to allow for effective operation and maintenance.
- Bolster the solid waste management sector by: i) promoting private sector involvement in the solid waste management sector (to prevent pollution from inhibiting drainage infrastructure); ii) supporting community-based solid waste management; iii) investing in engineered, appropriately operated waste transfer and disposal infrastructure.
- Establish a disaster and climate fund to support climate risk mitigation measures.
- Gain a better understanding of the timing and magnitude of incidence of several important indicators of climate change in the future, as well as the key vulnerabilities, development impact, and possible adaptation responses.
- Widen the participation of the public, scientific institutions, women and local communities in planning and management, accounting for approaches and methods of gender equity.
- Strengthen environmental monitoring capabilities for strengthened and more effective environmental management.
- Strengthen the technical capacity to integrate Ghana’s climate-smart agriculture and climate change risk management into farmer’s and the wider agricultural sector.
- Conduct a comprehensive national assessment of climate change impacts and existing vulnerabilities for Ghana’s population health and the health sector’s capability to respond and adapt to climate change impacts.
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 World Bank. 2020. Ghana Country Environmental Analysis. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/33726 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO
 MESTI. (2021). Ghana: Updated Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement (2020 – 2030) Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Accra.
 UNDP (2019). Climate Change Adaptation Profile – Ghana. [Online]. Available: https://www.adaptation-undp.org/explore/western-africa/ghana.
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