Ghanaian activists demand an end to coal

Ghana investing in fossil fuels is "inconsistent" and contradicts global efforts to stem climate change, environmental activists say.


On Monday, about 20 activists took to the streets in Osu to demand coal be left in the ground and to see more investment in renewable energy.

With signs, chants and masks, the group caught the attention of cars and pedestrians passing by.

Hipsters of Nature, the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, Ghana Youth Climate Coalition and Green African Youth Organization were represented at the march.

The march took place two days after the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris came to an agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions, requiring all countries to tackle climate change.


Protest organiser Gideon Commey has been involved with climate action for about eight years, he was focused on policy and education.

He formed the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, based on engaging the public and campaigning government.

The  Volta River Authority’s plan to build a coal power station in the Central Region contradicted global efforts to move away from fossil fuels.

"It is unwise to politically chose coal energy over any other alternative, and more so solar energy. The government wants to bring in a coal-fired power plant from South Africa - we think this is very inconsistent and contradicts where the rest of the world wants to move to, that is keeping all fossil fuel in the ground and investing in renewable energy,” he said.

"President Mahama was actually at COP 21 at the leader's summit, he actually made a statement that he is committed to phasing out fossil fuels which we thought was a contradiction; here is a government talking about  bringing in coal from South Africa and the same government being committed to clean energy."


The solar advocate said solar energy “stands for jobs, justice and climate."

Commey goes into local schools and communities and speaks to them about climate change by creating a connection between sanitation and climate change, encourage recycling and discouraging littering.

He said the Paris Climate Conference didn't meet his or the Ghana climate change activist group's expectations.

He wanted to see legally binding agreements, where sanctions would be put in place if government's failed to meet targets.

"You can't really put a price on human lives, it's very difficult to look at the economics first before the ethics."


He said people need to think about the impact coal had on health and the environment, "then you would really see going renewable really outweighs going down the path of fossil fuels."

Joshua Amponsem also at the march was representing the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement.

He wanted the government to move away from investing in fossil fuels.

"If you want to stop climate change [and] you want to contribute to global efforts of mitigating climate change then we need to stop investing into fossil fuels."

"Why not invest that same money into solar energy?"


He said people were not educated on the harms of fossil fuels and climate change  - people were "desperate" to fix dumsor "they will buy into anything".

"[So] we are getting out there on the streets talking to people, letting them know what coal is."

Canadian citizen Natalie Martin was also at the protest, she wanted to show her support for solar power.

She said Ghana was vulnerable to the effects of climate change.


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