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1 & 2 December, 2011: CERES21 workshop in Accra, Ghana

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During the first days of December, several of the core researchers and affiliated scholars to CERES21 met in Accra, Ghana. Hosted by our partner institution University of Ghana, the workshop was partly open to specially invited both public and political stakeholders. The first workshop day was dedicated to "Climate in the media", while the second workshop focused on "Transition to low-carbon automotive and electricity sectors".

The video below presents highlights from workshop.

Videos from some of the lectures are available by clicking on the links in the programme for each lecturer. Key takeaways from these sessions are presented below.  

Dec. 1: Climate in the media


Part one: Opening

9:30-9:35:     Welcome to University of Ghana and the Workshop – Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, University of Ghana        

9:35-9:50:     Introduction to CERES and the Workshop Issues – Prof. Atle Midttun, BI Norwegian Business School             

9:50-10:15:     Climate Change in Africa – Prof. Chris Gordon, University of Ghana   

Part two: Media Session    

10:45 -11:15:     Launch of Media Report – Paddy Coulter, University of Oxford    

11:15- 11:45:     Questions and Answers on Report – Paddy Coulter, Atle Midttun &  Audrey Gadzekpo    

11:45-12:15:     Presentation on Media & Climate Change in Africa – Pauline Bend, Director of Programmes, Panos West Africa (PIWA)    

12:15-12:30:     Discussion on Media & Climate Change in Africa    

1:30-2:00:     Findings from Norway – Atle Midttun/Elin Staurem, BI Norwegian Business School    

2:00-2:30:     Findings from Ghana – Audrey Gadzekpo    

2:30-3:00:     Findings from China – Jin Wang    

3:00-3:30:     Comparative Analysis of 3 countries – Paddy Coulter    

3:30-4:00:     General Discussions  


To play all videos from day 1, click here.      


Dec 2: Transition to low-carbon automotive and electricity sectors


Part one: Opening    

9:30-9.35:     Welcome to the University of Ghana and the Workshop- Dr. Joseph Yaro, University of Ghana    

9:35-9:50:     Introduction to CERES21 and the Anatomy of a Green Transition – Prof. Atle Midttun    


Part two: Transition in the electricity sectors    

9:50-10:20:     Transition challenges in electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa:  MSc and Development Consultant Amadu Mahama    

10:35-11:05:    Transition trends and challenges in electricity in the rich North: Prof. Atle Midttun    

11:05-11:35:     (Transition challenges in electricity in the rapidly growing East: Prof. Jin Wang)    

11:35-12:00:     Contributions from Discussant Dr George Yaw Obeng, Technology Consultancy Centre of the premier technical university in Ghana (KNUST),  Kumasi    

12:00-12:30:     Open Discussion    


Part three: Transitions in the automotive sector    

1:30-2:00:     Transition trends and challenges in automotive in the rich North: MSc Elin Staurem and  Dr. Jan-Olaf Willums, BI Norwegian Business School    

2:00-2:30:     Transition challenges in automotive in the rapidly growing East: Dr Karl Gerth, University of Oxford    

2:30-3:00:     Transition challenges in automotive in Sub-Saharan Africa: Dr Joseph Yaro, University of Ghana    

3:30-4:30:     Open Discussion      


To play all videos from day 2, click here.       


Key takeaways day 1: Workshop on climate in the media  


In the opening lecture of the workshop Professor Chris Gordon, the acting Director of the Institute of Environment & Sanitation Studies at the University of Ghana, directed attention to how climate change is already beginning to affect Ghana in terms of sea-level rise and of the increased temperatures resultant declining rainfall. Prof. Gordon warned that “Africa doesn’t value science sufficiently” and he made out a powerful case for public policy to stress science and technology and promote a culture of innovation.    

The international launch of the latest CERES21 media report was then held before an audience of Ghanaian editors, journalists, bloggers and other media experts in the University of Ghana’s African Wetlands Centre. The findings of the group’s survey of national newspapers in Norway, China and Ghana were presented by Paddy Coulter of the University of Oxford. He reported very diverse climate change policy themes emerging from a close analysis of the newspaper articles, with Norway focusing largely on climate action abroad, China spearheading a drive for energy efficiency and clean technologies at home and Ghana moving from ‘climate victimhood’ towards an active climate policy for development. 

‘Green Growth’, however, is surfacing as a policy common denominator across the three continents, albeit with local adaptation. Coulter argued that the media needs to acknowledge the low carbon economy as a key focus for climate coverage but this would require journalists becoming better equipped to deal with the economics of ‘green growth’ and to use more diverse sources, especially within the business sector and the scientific community. The findings from the media analysis were presented in more details in the afternoon session, where Prof. Atle Midttun presented the Norwegian findings, Dr Audrey Gadzekpo reported on her research from Ghana, and Dr Jin Wang went through the findings from China (via teleconference).    

Pauline Bend, Director of Programs for the Panos Institute West Africa, presented parallel findings from a survey of Senegalese media practitioners and climate change experts. She reported that climate change was widely regarded by the mainstream media in Senegal as “unsellable” with climate stories consequently pushed to the margins. There was a worrying lack of a relationship between climate change experts and journalists and this gap, in her view, needed to be bridged by holding regular forums between journalists and scientists.    

A range of possible new initiatives to help tackle the problem emerged from the workshop including:

  • engaging editors and media owners with environmental scientists
  • setting up in-country journalist networks on climate change
  • holding specialist in-country training courses for journalists on climate change
  • providing an online resource on climate change for journalists
  • carrying out research into the interests of newspaper readers about climate change and into the opinions and attitudes towards of the wider public        



Key takeaways day 2: Workshop on transition to low-carbon automotive and electricity sectors


Dr Joseph Yaro welcomed the participants stressing the challenge of combining greening and growth in the African context.    

Drawing on the work of the economic historian Thomas Hughes and a socio-technical perspective of industrial transition, Professor Atle Midttun laid out a conceptual framework for the study of green industrial transition, pointing out the need for alignment across the political, social, commercial and technology realms. He also pointed to the need for a differentiated agenda across the global “tripartite”,  where mature Western economies, rapid growth economies like China and developing economies like Ghana faced greening under very different conditions and with highly varying agendas.    

The presentation of the CERES21 analysis of green transition was then held before an audience of Ghanaian researchers in the social sciences and technology and representatives from Ghana’s Public Utilities Regulatory Commission.    

Starting with the electricity sector, M.Sc. Amadu Mahama, described the transition challenges in electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa especially the need for stabilizing urban electricity supply and for developing electricity coverage in the countryside. He highlighted the potential for renewables based  off-grid or supplementary solutions as a major contribution to electrification of the African countryside, but made it clear that least cost options will be the dominant factor in future electricity generation choices across the continent, with electricity from fossil fuel sources gaining increasing share in the energy mix well into the future.     

Professor Atle Midttun presented the transition challenges in Europe, highlighting the necessity to handle competing models for green innovation under carbon based, nuclear based, or renewable-based paradigms. Adding to the complexity, he argued, is the challenge from competing demand side and smart grid solutions.    

Due to IT problems, it was not possible to hold a skype presentation of the Chinese case. It was, however, brought into the discussion, thanks to a draft paper provided by professor Jin Wang.    

Dr George Yaw-Obeng from Technology Consultancy Centre of the premier technical university in Ghana (KNUST), Kumasi, commented on the CERES21 presentations from an African perspective, emphasising the need for technological flexibility and adequate regulatory control to achieve solutions where environmental and consumer needs were duly balanced. The discussion highlighted the need for different approaches in each of the three regions, but also for a constructive interplay. Technology development in China, following early European initiatives, might, for instance, make renewables available at affordable prices in Africa in a way direct transfer from Europe could never achieve. The discussion also focused on excessive transaction costs in today’s Kyoto- transfer mechanisms, calling for program based, rather than project based licencing.    

The afternoon session started with MSc Elin Staurem and Dr Jan-Olaf Willums' presentation of the automotive industry in Europe, stressing the interplay between public policies and industrial greening initiatives. This interplay was ambiguous -  at times obstructive, at times constructive -  partly as a result of different size and types of cars in North and South European countries. A major driver for European automotive industry has been to balance the fear of loosing out in cost-based competition with the wish to harvest gains from a green profile in the market.    

Dr Karl Gerth followed with a presentation of the Chinese automotive sector, which has overtaken the US as the top manufacturer (and consumer) of automobiles.  He stressed the strong government role behind consumer demand, emphasizing that this same active role of the state is now behind the push to move Chinese consumers from internal combustion toward electric vehicles not only for environmental but also geopolitical and economic reasons.      

Dr. Yaro followed with a presentation of the automotive sector in Ghana and wider South Saharan Africa. Dr Yaro stressed the importance of further developing the road infrastructure and the African prioritization of growth over greening. Yet he also pointed to obvious efficiency potentials in the African automotive sector, which offered a potential combination of economy and ecology.    


Spin-off project: Rural electrification in Africa using a minigrid concept

Discussions on greening of technologies in both the power sector and the automotive industry also resulted in the planning of a spin-off project on rural electrification in Africa. The need for better storage for solar energy was raised during the discussion sessions in Accra, which included a briefing on recent battery developments, taking into account the availability of second life batteries. This resulted in a suggestion to make a demo integration of the two technologies in a minigrid concept for rural Africa. The CERES meeting highlighted that an entrepreneurial approach is important, and the plan is to train local entrepreneurs to be competent operators of these minigrid PV systems linked to schools and health centers in isolated rural areas, and provide electricity services on a shared revenue model.