Climate change has become a very essential topic not only in environmental discussions but also major factor in geopolitics. The hotter temperatures and the erratic rainfall and storms we have been experiencing in recent years are but a few of the effects of climate change. Climate change clearly affects us all and must be addressed. For all the elegant language and goals of an international treaty, there will be very little success in achieving its aims if parties do not ‘bring the law home’ and thus put in place measures to give effect to the treaty goals. This where Ghana’s measures assume significance.

The Conference of Parties (COP) is held each year to steer the world towards the ultimate goal of addressing the climate crisis. This omnibus goal has within it, different targets such as limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, helping vulnerable communities adapt to the effects of climate change and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. At COP meetings, nations commit themselves to achieving these targets by submitting action plans and setting timelines within which to achieve their goals. Following COP26 held in Glasgow in 2021, countries pledged to submit more ambitious climate plans, including cuts to emissions of carbon dioxide. However, as of September 2022, only 22 out of the 196 countries had submitted these plans. Countries, attending COP28, which was held in Dubai in November 2023, admitted the slow progress in all areas of climate action and committed themselves to accelerating action. This included a call on governments to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels to renewables such as wind and solar power.

This article seeks to discuss the key highlights of COP28 and take a look at Ghana’s preparedness towards achieving these goals.


The Conference of Parties (COP) is the United Nations Body, responsible for the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention.

The UNFCCC is the foundational treaty that provides a framework for the worldwide goal of achieving climate change, signed in 1992 and entered into force in 1993. The ultimate goal of the Convention is the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” within a timeframe that allows people and the planet to adapt and economies to develop sustainably.

The ratification by 192 countries is an expression and the desire to be bound by the obligations under the conventions, act on climate change, and report their progress regularly. The UNFCCC is a framework convention. The significance of this is that in international law a framework convention sets out very minimal obligations for its signatories with the detailed commitments to be filled in by the signatories in subsequent agreements. It is from this framework approach that parties to the UNFCC have agreed a series of protocol on climate change.

All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP, with the opportunity to review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts, and also take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements. One major function of the COP is to review national communications and emission inventories submitted by parties. Based on this information, the COP assesses how the measures taken by the parties help in promoting the ultimate aim of the convention.

The Kyoto Agreement, adopted in December 1997 and which came into force in February 2005 was the first addition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The main aim of the Kyoto Convention is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases as an additional requirement for its signatories to develop national programs aimed at reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases.

At the 21st session of the COP (COP21) in Paris on 12th December 2025, the Paris Agreement was adopted and came in force on 4th November 2016. This agreement aims to hold the global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

The Paris Agreement is a landmark initiative in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations together to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.



COP 28 was organized as the 28th Session of the Conference of Parties to discuss and track governmental and private sector performance on commitments towards achieving the aims of the UNFCC. It was held in Dubai from 30th November to 13th December. This was the first COP to officially acknowledge that fossil fuels are the root cause of climate change. This may appear to be a very obvious statement, but it is monumental as it means that the parties can take more definite steps in the right direction to combat the issue of climate change. The significance of the statement is also evidence of the triumph of environmental concerns over the fossil fuel industry and its resistance to international efforts to tackle climate change.

At this summit, the countries present, made some commitments to ensure the achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement, concerning the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases by 2030. Over 100 countries further agreed to triple renewable energy capacity and double the global rate of energy efficiency by 2030. There was also talk of a new climate agreement including the phasing out of all fossil fuels. At the end of the Session, it was agreed by states that each state would undertake to reduce the use of fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly, and equitable manner. Furthermore, stakeholders committed to taking action in fast-tracking a just and orderly transition from the use of fossil fuels to the use of renewable energy, fixing climate finance, focusing on nature, lives, and livelihoods, and fostering inclusivity for all.

Some of the commitments made are discussed below.

  1. Increased funding for “Loss and Damage”

Funding for global environmental goals has always been a problem. The developing countries that are party to the UNFCC and subsequent protocols have always pressed the need for funding to meet their obligations and to tackle the consequences of environmental damage.

“Loss and damage” is the term given for finance for developing countries that have suffered a major climate change-related disaster. These developing countries are climate-vulnerable countries that have to deal with climate-induced loss. A certain amount has been set aside for countries considered as Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States – with many African countries falling within these two categories.

A fund was agreed at COP27 in 2022. A major development at COP28, was the announcement of US$400 million to be given to more vulnerable countries to cope with climate disasters. The fund currently amounts to US$791 million.  This comes as great news; however, it is comparatively insignificant as it is estimated that developing countries will need almost US$6 trillion by 2030 to tackle climate related damage and loss. It is still unclear how the fund will work, what the major funding streams will be, or whether the allocation of finance will be community-driven and corruption free. It has been agreed that the World Bank will administer the fund for a negotiated fee of 24% which means that one in four dollars pledged will never make it to the countries in need. The Summit did not deliver on climate finance and this issue has been pushed to COP29 November 2024.


  1. Just Energy Transition

COP 28 closed with an agreement that signals the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, just, and equitable transition, underpinned by deep emissions cuts and scaled-up finance.

The call on nations to transition away from fossil fuels was part of a decision by nearly 200 Parties on the world’s first ‘global stocktake’ to rile up climate action before the end of the decade – with the overarching aim to keep the global temperature limit of 1.5°C within reach. This step now compels governments and businesses to “turn these pledges into real-economy outcomes, without delay.” The list also includes accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power, phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and other measures that drive the transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly, and equitable manner, with developed countries continuing to take the lead.

In the short-term, Parties are encouraged to come forward with ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets, covering all greenhouse gases, sectors, and categories and aligned with the 1.5°C limit in their next round of climate action plans (known as Nationally Determined Contributions) by early 2025.



Ghana updated its NDCs under the Paris Agreement for 2020 to 2030, per Article 4 of the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC decisions. Ghana has put in place different policies spanning various sectors to address the main issue of climate change.

As part of the national strategy, Ghana has developed 19 policy actions in 10 priority areas to achieve Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) goals in the next decade. The 19 policy actions translate into 13 adaptation and 34 mitigation programs of action.

Discussed below are some steps taken by the Government to achieve its COP goals

  1. Expansion of inter-and-intra-city transportation modes: This is one of the Nationally Determined Contribution Policies. This aims at building smart communities and Sustainable mobility. In 2019, Ghana launched a “Drive Electric Campaign”, which sought to promote the use of electric vehicles in the country and to have at least 100 vehicles and 10 public charging outlets in the country by 2020. In 2022, Total Energies Marketing Ghana PLC launched its first electric vehicle (EV) charging unit at its Liberation Road Branch, 37, in Accra. This was to help reduce the carbon footprint and support the Paris Climate Ambition by reducing carbon emissions. This definitely is a step in the right direction however, it is inadequate as there have not been reports of any more EV charging ports in the country. It is therefore unclear if these goals have been met, and what their mitigation potential would be. The Government of Ghana also introduced an emission levy to take effect from 1st February 2024. This was aimed at incentivising taxpayers to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. This received backlash from the general public. Simply changing tax policy is not enough to persuade consumers to adopt cleaner energy options. Attention should be placed on creating an enabling environment for easy purchase of electric vehicles and increase in the establishment of EV charging stations. Also, Ghana has articulated its intention to modernise and expand its railway network, which could mitigate emissions from road transportation. The country has received its first batch of 12 trains from Poland which will encourage Ghanaians to use the train system and ease the pressure on the use of fossil fuels. While the mitigation potential of most of these interventions is unclear, they are positive steps towards the decarbonisation of the transport sector in Ghana.


  1. Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (RAC): This is also another policy objective in Ghana’s NDC. The aim of this is to regulate the usage of Air Conditioners and Refrigerators in order to mitigate the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. However, as it is now, there are more refrigerators imported and put up for sale and use every day. There is also an increase in the use of air conditioning due to increased temperatures and the construction of concrete buildings. Ghana’s NDCs discuss the “promotion of energy efficiency in homes, industry, and commerce”, and the adoption of sustainable refrigeration and air conditioning. The National Medium-Term Development Policy Frameworkalso seeks to promote the use of solar energy for all public and private buildings. These are laudable initiatives; however, these interventions are not detailed enough to determine their impact on emissions and the building sector. Calls have been made for buildings to be designed to be more efficient and sustainable. Buildings can be constructed to maximise natural light and ventilation thereby reducing the use of the artificial lighting and air conditioning. Building materials such as concrete and steel have high carbon footprints so there must be a shift towards sustainable alternatives such as bamboo and wood for some building construction.


  1. Enhance climate services for efficient weather information management: The aim of this policy is to promote early warning and disaster risk management. This policy initiative therefore aims at empowering the meteorological agencies in Ghana to provide detailed and accurate predictions on weather conditions in Ghana. As it stands now, the agencies responsible for providing such information are not adequately equipped to do so.


  1. City-wide resilient infrastructure planning: This objective aims at adapting resilience in the construction industry. Under this policy, there ought to be planned settlements in various parts of the city. However, this is not the case in reality. In some parts of the city, there is very poor settlement as people end up building in waterways and in unauthorized areas. This causes the dreaded floods that occur during the annual rainy seasons. There have been different governmental initiatives to relocate citizens in waterways. These different initiatives have been met with resistance and have not been effective.



Ghana has in writing many policies targeting climate change and ensuring that the annual COP goals are met. However, there are major hindrances to the realisation of these goals, and they are funding, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.

With regard to funding, it will take more than the government to pump finances into funding for loss and damage and other climate-related incidents. Ghana, as well as other African countries must continue to impress on the international community to devote more funding in aid of developing countries who are prone to the effects of climate change.

There should be greater focus on implementation and Ghana must harness the untapped opportunities of local knowledge, strategies, and approaches by aggressively and intentionally putting a strategic focus on context-based, locally led, and nature-based adaptation and taking advantage of the synergies between climate action and sustainable and transformative development.

The state should prioritise the success of policies already in place over the introduction of new measures. The fight against climate change is not reserved for the people in power but all citizens. We must therefore continue and intensify sensitization programmes and increase awareness of the effects of climate change.


AFIA AGYEMAN AMPONSAH-MENSAH is a Part II Student of the Ghana School of Law and interning with SUSTINERI ATTORNEYS PRUC, a client-centric law firm specializing in Transactions, Corporate, Disputes, and Tax (