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President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo has stressed the need for a measured approach to tackling climate change in poorer countries.
In his address to world leaders at the ongoing COP26 summit in Scotland, President Akufo-Addo argued that countries like Ghana could not afford to forgo the exploitation of natural resources in favour of protecting the environment.
“We believe that balance must be struck and maintained between our social, economic, and environmental imperatives,” he stressed.
Given the world’s status quo, he further warned that limiting the exploitation of natural resources in poorer countries “would be tantamount to enshrining in the global community the inequality of the highest order.”
President Akufo-Addo suggested that there could be some hypocrisy at play because some western countries enriched themselves by exploiting resources home and abroad.
“This development came at the expense of pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases. Even today, the western world is responsible for 76 percent of carbon emissions,” he said.
“It will be wholly unfair to the world to demand that Africa abandons the exploitation of these same resources needed to finance our development and help us to cope better with the threat of climate change at a time where many countries on the continent have only just discovered them.”
Ghana has been contending with such debates around the protection of the Atewa forest from much-criticised bauxite exploration.
In November 2020 for example, members of the International Union for Conversation of Nature voted to adopt Motion 103 calling for urgent measures to safeguard the Atewa Forest.
President Akufo-Addo further expressed disappointment “by the failures of wealthy nations” to honour commitments of making available $100 billion to poorer countries to assist with climate change, as well as the absence of technology transfer.
Moving forward, he also said Ghana supported the call for debt for climate swaps, which would see a reduction in debt stock in exchange for a commitment to protect nature.