Environmental campaigners are worried Ghanaians may be compelled to revert to the use of charcoal and firewood for energy with the hike in the price of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG).
This, they say will harm efforts at protecting the country’s already depleted forest cover.
Subsidies on the price of LPG were placed as a measure to get majority of the population to shift from wood fuels to LPG with the intent of conserving the forests to help mitigate global warming.
It is not clear how much of an impact the subsidy has helped in discouraging felling of trees for fuel wood.
But Environmentalist, Lovans Owusu-Takyi says there are clear indications the hike in LPG prices would lead to an increase in deforestation.
“About 85 percent of the population depends on fuel wood for energy source and with the increase in fuel prices definitely people are going to go back to the use of charcoal and fuel wood”, he observed. “The more dependency on charcoal and fuel wood will also increase the depletion of forest resources”.
The price of LPG has gone up by 50 percent, selling at 194.85 per litre or GHS24.36 per a 12.5 kg cylinder.
Mr. Owusu-Takyi stated that Ghana is already importing timber from Cameroon and the “risk to our forest is high now, hence the need for urgent attention to be given and that the fuel price increase should be looked at again”.
Whilst urging the government to explore ways to subsidize LPG to benefit urban households, Mr. Owusu-Takyi noted access the improved and efficient cook stoves would be beneficial in reducing charcoal and firewood in both rural and urban communities.
“Improved cook stove is very good to save and reduce carbon emission, provide clean energy and improve the health of the people”, he said.
Already, producers of clean cook stoves are anticipating an increase in sales of products with the hike in prices of LPG.
“Once the price of LPG increases, definitely people will switch from the LPG and start using their charcoal. So with this efficient cook stove, it’s going to reduce the cost of their fuel consumption in terms of charcoal for their cooking so I think it’s good news for us”, said Michael Yaw Adjei, manufacturer of Holy Cook Stoves in Kumasi.
About 69 percent of urban households in Ghana use charcoal for cooking and heating.
Mr. Adjei is looking forward to expand production to meet anticipated demands.