Ghana’s climate pledges: how other companies are too

Seven of the companies pledged to take action in the wake of the COP24 climate talks, and these new pledges will accelerate action on climate change – and save the planet a hell of a lot of money

On 30 November 2018, Ghana joined 200 countries at the world’s biggest climate conference, COP24, in Katowice, Poland. At this summit, the country signed up to a Climate Change Act aimed at cutting its emissions by 50% by 2030, and it signed up to work with firms to achieve this. By the end of this month, the 10 companies participating in Ghana’s Climate Action Programme (CAP) will have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, officials said. All 10 companies have also vowed to collaborate with a wider range of companies and collaborate with their local communities to incorporate the financial feasibility of climate action into all their business plans. Ghana’s government and the CAP are now seeking funds to put these ambitious efforts into action. The future of global warming has become a matter of life and death. Because of this, the participants at COP24 were determined to give tangible benefits to the countries that are already living in the worst-affected regions of the planet. With the wealth of these people will come the financial and technological resources to go green.

These companies have committed to cutting their emissions:

Airbus Group – Paris

AngloGold Ashanti Group – Ghana

Barrick Gold Corporation – Ghana

Anglo American Plc – South Africa

Boeing – United States

Allianz SE – Germany

Accor – France

Greenlandic Freight Limited – United Kingdom

Mombasa Sugar Company – Kenya

Nairobi Sugar Company – Kenya

San Miguel de Allende S.A. – Chile

At a CAP conference in London in October, executives from each of these companies said that being chosen to work with the CAP would have far-reaching benefits for their companies, their employees and their local communities. They said they would save money. They will be able to make new investments in clean energy; their workers will get healthier; and they will be able to export these skills back to their home countries.

International climate change conference – COP24, Katowice, Poland – 30 November 2018 Photograph: Carsten Koall/Getty Images

In today’s media environment, greenwashing does not come much easier to consumer scrutiny than that of these companies. If they make these kinds of claims to help their businesses, what do they mean in the long term? What will they be delivering when it comes to energy and climate change? As they claimed in that London conference, they are investing in renewable energy on a multi-year basis. So, do they really mean it? Is the food and water-supply system of the countries hosting them sustainable? Do they really believe in a clean energy world or only are they doing things in the short term that the Trump administration says we should be doing?

What did governments and businesses find worrying in the UN climate talks in November? Read more

A recent study found that less than 0.5% of the carbon savings from the companies’ pledges would come from the previously-committed cuts they made under the Paris agreement. To be honest, it wasn’t a surprise, since to reach meaningful cuts companies must adapt to the climate-change reality of today.

What these companies have said, and will do, needs to be measured against the real long-term costs to governments and the developing world. How are these investments being measured? How well are they safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of their employees? For whom are these investments designed to deliver? Who will they benefit?

For the communities – the 450,000-strong population of Cape Coast – whose livelihoods depend on gold production, it is significant that these companies have come to that region. As the province of Cape Coast embarks on a transition to a new economy and economic life, its economy will be powered by much more than iron ore. By 2030, Ghana expects to rely on agro-industry, tourism, fisheries, oil and gas, information and communications technology, pharmaceuticals, gas exploration and mining. As the CAP participants see it, Cape Coast is the target market for initiatives to cut carbon emissions and develop renewable energy.

Leave a Comment