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Peter Dery:A Director With A Difference


Feb 23, 2024

Tell us a bit about yourself:My name is Peter Pery and I come from Ghana. I’m actually the director responsible for environment at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation. And I am the co-chair for the Coalition on Climate and Clean Air, which is the CCAC. An organization that’s made up of about 90 countries there about. And many other non-state partners, including international NGOs, the EU, World Bank, many others. The Coalition was established in 2012, initially with seven members. It’s grown to about 90 members, so that’s quite huge. Ninety state members, I mean. If you add the non-state members, then you’re talking about almost 150 there about. And the purpose of the Coalition was to see how we can address issues relating to clean air. But of course, that also helped us to achieve our climate goals. Because we believe that there is a linkage between clean air and climate. Mm-hmm. If you look at most of the pollutants that affect air quality, the same pollutants also lead to greenhouse emissions and also global warming. And so there’s a direct linkage. Moreover, also, if you are just addressing climate and you are not taking care of people’s health, then you haven’t done it. So it’s an integrated process. We’re using clean air, but to help address climate issues. Now, the most important thing is that if you look at the reports and assessments that have been carried out over the years, it is very clear that getting to 1.5 degrees by mid-century is almost impossible. But then we have been able to demonstrate scientifically to show that if you reduce some of these short-lived climate pollutants that are polluting the air, it will be easier for us to go quick and faster to achieve the 1.5. And that will make it possible. And the science I’ve shown, all the calculations I’ve shown, that we’re able to reduce some gases like methane, nitrous oxide, black carbon, and other sugars. If we reduce these short-lived climate pollutants, we should be able to further reduce global warming by 0.5. And so we see the advocacy to reduce short-lived climate as a way of trying to fast track the achievement of that global climate targets that have been set by all of us. So we are complementing. We are not running parallel with the UNFTA. We are trying to see on climate, but we’re trying to do things that can complement. And our coalition is a voluntary organization that brings people who have like-minds on the subject of climate and climate to work together and also to augment what other global systems are doing when it comes to climate change.

What is the secret to your success?So, well, it’s all about determination, it’s about being focused and it’s about trying to see what it brings. I normally tell people that, look, it is true that Africa is contributing less than 4% of total global emissions but it’s important that Africa becomes part of the conversation and becomes part of action. Simply because in doing that we can also achieve some sustainable development imperatives. We can bring development by taking climate action. Let me give you an example. We say let’s all do solar, let’s go renew our electricity. Now if you have communities that are very far from the grid and that it is so expensive to move the grid to those communities, why don’t you go install solar which gives them the same electricity which you wanted to give them and then you then prevent that cost you are going to incur in trying to move the grid to those communities because they are very far away and probably the terrain. So, you see, so you would have brought in solar which is renewable which you are using to try to address climate or pollution but then you are actually bringing development to those communities because those communities are now going to get electricity and children can go to school and come home and do homework because they have lights. Some businesses can thrive because there’s electricity and so on and so forth. So, you have to look at the development and I have always said that addressing climate change is synonymous to dealing with developmental challenges. So, the two are interlinked. That’s how we see it as a country in Ghana and that’s the drive, that’s the motivation to do more, to try to do more when it comes to climate change mitigation or adaptation. Yes. Seeing it as a way to get development on people, not only just addressing the climate crisis, the fact that we bring about improved lives, we bring about improved in terms of living standards and others to our people. When people have electricity, we have improved their standard of living. Okay. If solar will bring it, why not?

What do you love the most about your line of work? For me, I’m a lawyer. I’m an environmentalist and I’m a public policy expert. It is said that when you love what you do, you don’t get tired. Yes. So, the first is that I have the love for what I do. I enjoy what I do so I don’t get tired. Yes. And that’s why I love it. That’s what keeps me going. And I believe that I’m able to also garnish the kind of support that’s needed to move people. I believe that I’m someone who always enables others to do what they can do but that they are not doing. So, I’m an enabler. That’s what I enjoy. I open doors. So, I get people to do what they could have done but that they are reluctant to do. You know, to give them that little push. And for me, that’s the joy that I get. As I get people to do that and they are not doing more, then I get excited. And then, it then incentivizes me to do for others. That’s what keeps me going. And like I said, I’m somebody who believes in development and anything that will bring development to the people, no matter where it’s coming from, we need to do it. So, whether it’s coming from climate, whether it’s coming from a person, air pollution or air quality, or any other source. Whether it’s coming from biodiversity, it has to bring development. Our life is about people. Development must be people-centered. So, climate change must be people-centered. Nature must be… I mean, God didn’t create nature. God didn’t create nature for just creating nature. He wanted people to be happy. So, he created everything beautiful. He put man there. He said, go, enjoy. Eat everything. Use everything. So, if you are doing anything that will make people happy, then of course, you should have that air to continue. But of course, if it’s not people-centered, then of course, then it might be something else.

What is your government doing to curb climate change? Yeah, for us, Ghana is doing much. When it comes to carbon credits, we are the first country to have signed a bilateral agreement for carbon credits under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. First country to have authorized a carbon credit project. First country to have developed a carbon credit framework globally. So, when it comes to carbon credits, we are following the government. And the government is acknowledged and known by the world. We have so far developed bilateral agreements for carbon credits with Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, South Korea, and Liechtenstein. So, many things are already in place. And some projects are already on the ground running. Of course, it will take some years for us to monitor and calculate the emissions before payment is done. But I can tell you that when it comes to the structures, when it comes to the policy environment and the enabling environment for trading in carbon.

What would you like your legacy to be? Well, I’m happy that at least we are making such progress. The next thing I want to say one day is that yes, I had the opportunity of contributing to ensuring that maybe this business, factory, or business will continue to grow. I think that the investment that came to Ghana that has brought about this change, I was part of it. That’s the kind of legacy I want to do. That during my time, we were able to at least introduce this new subject which is the magic and that the whole country was able to buy into it. And that there are projects running and that people have received payments to exchange for emissions. For me, that will be enough satisfaction.


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