By Louise S A Alsan, @AlsanLouise
The Gambia became a signatory to the Paris Agreement on the 26th of April 2016 and ratified it six months later on the 7th of November 2016. The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C among others. To achieve this goal, 196 parties attended the Conference of Parties 21 (COP21) in 2015, culminating in the Paris Agreement.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which came into force in 1994 compels countries to prevent “dangerous human interference with the climate system”. In doing so the countries which have signed the Paris Agreement meet once a year to progress efforts toward achieving the Paris Agreement targets.
According to Climate Justice, the first COP took place in 1995 and has continued to take place across the globe. The most recent COP26 took place in Glasgow, Scotland which reiterated the urgency for all parties “to maintain the 1.5°C goal identified in the Paris Agreement”.
As climate change worsens and numerous coastal cities suffer from sea level rise, flash floods and severe weather, the importance of Climate Change has been more pronounced in the city of Banjul which hosts the State House, National Assembly and numerous vital institutions.
The upcoming COP27 scheduled to place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt focuses on Climate Justice among others. According to Climate Justice Alliance “in order to achieve the policy shifts” needed to make a positive impact on Climate Change “powerful, grassroots” advocacy is needed.
This article features one of the Gambia’s climate change Advocates and tracks the Gambia’s progress towards limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C.
Ousainu Colley commonly known as Ousainu Gambia is the program officer at GreenUp Gambia. He has been involved in a number of tree planting activities and recently spearheaded protests against the Government’s lack of action to address flash floods in the capital city Banjul where he resides.
When asked if the Gambia is committed to the Paris Agreement Mr Colley opined that the Gambia is committed to limiting global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C. He noted that “from years back the Gambia was labelled as one of the countries that are in line with the Paris agreement”. Mainly because the Gambia is not a heavily industrialized country that emits significant CO2 emissions.
According to an article published by Global Citizen which quotes Climate Action Tracker (CAT), two countries have been “determined — to be global role models: If other countries followed their lead, global temperatures could be kept from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius”.
Global Citizen reports that “the first role model is Morocco because of its massive investments in renewable energy that put it on track to get 42% of its electricity from clean sources by 2020”. Coming second “is The Gambia, which is on track to reduce its emissions by 44% in 2025 compared to business-as-usual,” notes the Global Citizen report.
Efforts to request interviews with the Minister of Environment and the Deputy Permanent Secretary were not granted up to the time of publication. However, our interview requests produced the Third National Communication of the Gambia under the UNFCCC published in July 2020. According to the report, the Gambia’s “average temperatures vary between18°C and 30°C during the dry season and range between 23°C and 33°C during the wet season”.
Most importantly the report notes that “since the 1950s, routine observation also indicates that minimum temperatures across The Gambia have increased steadily at the rate of 0.4 to 0.67°C per decade (GOTG, 2007)”. Given that only 6 years have elapsed from 2016 to 2022 this means that at best the temperature rose by 0.24 °C at a rate of 0.4 °C per decade and at worst 0.402 °C at a rate of 0.67 °C per decade. If these calculations are accurate then the Gambia is firmly on track to meet its target to keep temperature rise below 1.5 °C.