Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), says it is time African governments hold big polluters liable for the environmental crisis on the continent.
VALD said big polluting companies such as Shell and others should be made to atone for the harm and damage they have caused to the environment which has led to the major climate crisis across the world.
The organization is also of the opinion that polluters must not be allowed to self-regulate their activities as had been the case in most countries, rather they should be properly monitored and regulated by law so they can be responsible.
At a press briefing in Accra, the Programmes Director at VALD, Labram Musah, who is also the National Cordinator of the Ghana Non-Communicable Alliance (GhNCDA) highlighted their support to the just launched “Liability Roadmap,” – a global tool outlining how local and global decision-makers can hold polluting industries liable for climate damage. He said Ghana and other African countries must be bold to demand for climate justice.
According to him the environmental harm and damage being caused by big polluters, including fossil fuel producers, plastic manufactures and coal miners, are actually worse than the benefit they purport to bring to people.
“We cannot take a further risk as the future of our planet is uncertain. Governments across the world must prioritize the adoption of the liability roadmap into their national development agendas,” Musah noted.
He said “I’m happy that on the global front, earlier this year, the European Parliament held a hearing investigating Exxon’s attempt to mislead the public. The Philippine’s commission on human rights is considering the fossil fuel industry’s responsibility for human rights violations in connection to climate change. And in Peru, a farmer is suing a German utility for its role in the crisis harming his livelihood. Equally in Nigeria, many Niger Delta communities have explored the litigation option in confronting Shell and oil multinationals for oil spills and other environmental infractions.”
He explained that with the emergence of the oil field in Ghana, it behooves on state agents to follow and adhere to global best practices to ensure that present and future generations are protected from the devastating effects of the big polluters.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that from 2030 to 2050, certain effects of climate change would contribute to an increase of about 250,000 deaths per year from conditions such as heat stress, malnutrition, diarrhea, and malaria.
Also, air pollution is known to be the world’s largest single environmental health risk, and a leading risk factor for Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), causing seven million deaths every year worldwide.
According to Musah, in Ghana, however, skin diseases and associated ailments are being recorded in Agbogbloshie in the Greater Accra Region, with respiratory illnesses being the worst health problem.
He has therefore, called on the Government to ensure that activities that affect the health of the people are curtailed and the polluters made to own up to their responsibilities.
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