Politics

Ghana signs US$50m emission reduction payment agreement under leaf coalition

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The Forestry Commission, under the auspices of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, has signed Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with Emergent Forest Finance Accelerator Incorporated (Emergent), a US-based non-profit organisation that serves as the convenor and coordinator of the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance (LEAF) Coalition.

The agreement will see Ghana receiving payment of up to Fifty Million US Dollars (US$50,000,000.00) for emission reductions of up to five million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, at a unit price of Ten Dollars (US$10.00) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The Agreement, which was signed on Friday, 1st December, 2023, on the sidelines of the twenty-eighth session of the Conference of Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), made Ghana the first country, globally, to sign ERPA under the LEAF Coalition for the supply of high-integrity jurisdictional REDD+ emission reductions and removals credit. Costa Rica, later, also, signed an agreement with Emergent, worth Fourteen Million US Dollars (US$14,000,000.00), making the two countries the only forest countries to achieve this feat.

The LEAF Coalition was launched in April, 2021 by the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States and Norway, together with some leading global companies, as a voluntary global coalition to bring together companies and governments, to provide finance for tropical and subtropical forest conservation commensurate with the scale of the climate change challenge.

The Coalition aims to raise global climate ambition and contribute to halting tropical and subtropical deforestation and forest degradation by 2030, by ensuring that tropical and subtropical forest jurisdictions have access to large scale, predictable performance-based finance, to enable them invest in reduced deforestation and sustainable rural development.

Following Call for Proposals, which thirty (30) countries participated, and after the initial technical screening by a panel of experts, Ghana, Nepal and Ecuador were selected as the first countries to sign a Letter of Intent with the Coalition as a part of initial steps towards signing a binding ERPA to access funds from the Coalition.

At COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor, MP, signed a Letter of Intent on behalf of Government. Subsequently, the Minister inaugurated a Committee, chaired by the Deputy Minister responsible for Lands and Forestry, Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio, MP, to work towards securing a binding ERPA.

The Committee has been working with the Forestry Commission, as lead negotiators, leading to Ghana becoming the first country to secure a binding ERPA. Some twenty-five (25) countries and subnational governments, including forest countries like Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Columbia and Brazil, have signed Letters of Intent, and are, also, working towards a binding ERPA with Emergent.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the signing of the Agreement on Sunday 3rd December, 2023, at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor said the signing of the Agreement is further testament to Ghana’s focused efforts at revamping her forest landscape restoration fortunes with the right sustainability protocols. He said the importance of forest and nature-based solutions to climate change is critical at this crisis moment, and countries must scale up efforts to deliver on these solutions.

According to Mr. Jinapor, this new agreement will complement other interventions being implemented to halt climate change, such as the flagship Green Ghana Project, the Ghana Forest Plantation Strategy, and the Ghana REDD+ Strategy. Ghana has already received result-based payments of more than US$4.8 million, under the Ghana Cocoa REDD+ Programme, and is implementing the Ghana Shea Landscape Restoration Programme with support from the Green Climate Fund.

The Minister said the new ERPA will help Ghana extend climate action to areas beyond her Carbon Fund area.

He called on the global community to come together to support actions towards forest restoration and protection. “The time to act with speed and effectiveness against climate change is now. The time for partnership and collaboration in ramping up forest and nature-based climate action is, indeed, now…. Let us, therefore, get on with this noble undertaking to save our planet,” Mr. Jinapor said.

On his part, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Emergent, Mr. Eron Bloomgarden, congratulated Ghana for the feat chalked. He said the commitment and zeal of the team from Ghana ensured that an agreement was reached within a record time, making Ghana the first African country to sign such agreement. He expressed his optimism towards delivering forest solutions to climate change.

The United Kingdom’s Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, Hon, Graham Stuart, speaking on the transaction said halting tropical deforestation is critical to tackling climate change, and the commitment of forest countries like Ghana to protect natural ecosystems is commendable. On his part, the Minister for Climate and Environment of Norway, Hon. Andreas Bjelland Eriksen, said he was excited for Ghana and Costa Rica signing ERPA under the LEAF Coalition, and called on governments and the private sector to ramp up public and private finance for forest countries to partner with the LEAF Coalition to deliver high quality forest carbon.

Forest and nature-based solutions to climate change have been at the centre of successive COPs since 2021, as it has the potential to deliver up to a third of global climate solutions.

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