At one of the side events of the 71st annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, Nigeria’s President and the leader of the Nigerian delegation, Muhammadu Buhari signed the country’s ratification of the 21st annual Conference of Parties (COP21) agreement on climate change, otherwise known as the Paris Agreement, on 22nd September 2016. This indicates Nigeria’s consent to cut down the carbon emission currently adding so much to the global warming. It is indeed laudable and timely, especially at a time Nigeria is talking about economic diversification, infrastructural, social and economic development which we hope will take the nation at par with other developed countries of the world.
Buildup to the meeting in Paris, environmental enthusiasts, professionals, governments and NGO’s alike tasked the negotiators, policy makers and participants to decide for the future and come out with policies and frameworks that will save and improve the integrity of the environment. To much expectation, a favorable agreement was reached. The agreement was adopted following the consensus of the 195 participating members (and the European Union) of the United Nations Climate Change Conference on 12 December 2015. The 12-page agreement indicates a promissory consent by the parties to as soon as possible reduce carbon gas emissions and consequently reduce the carbon output thereby keeping the global warming “to well below 2 degrees C”.
While we jubilate and commend the Federal Government on taking responsibility to lower the rate of climate change, it is also necessary that we halt for a moment to call and clamor for the full implementation of this agreement and also understand how we can collectively work towards achieving the goals of what the President ratified on behalf of every citizen of the Federal Republic.
But how can Nigeria work towards achieving this goal within the time frame of 2030? This is a million dollar question indeed.
Ratifying this agreement will mean that each of the 36 states of the republic plan and map out effective strategies to augment the FG’s effort, whatever be it. The city of Abuja is yet to achieve the “green city” status even with some beautiful landscapes. Some parts are characterized by pollution, encroachment and most despicably, indiscipline in the management of resources and adherence to development recommendations. What then will one think of many other cities (especially state capitals) within the country? Therefore, it has become necessary that each of the three tiers of government and the three arms of government at all levels work together to determine the best ways to keep the promise of reducing the carbon emission in Nigeria.
The Paris Agreement is binding and Nigeria has signed and promised to reduce carbon output up to 20% by 2030. In fact, the country’s lead negotiator to COP21, Dr. Adeoye Adejuwon, assures of up to 45% given the required assistance. Given Nigeria’s long history of dependence on foreign aids and assistance in carrying out some projects like this, what form of assistance is Adejuwon talking about?
I am yet to lay hands on the government’s roadmap for actualizing this, but I believe it is going to be a challenging one, but absolutely possible, given the will and determination. Less carbon emission will mean that Nigeria shifts virtually every sector from production to distribution of whatever to only clean and sustainable means. This would mean less private cars on the roads, lower industrial energy inputs, cleaner energy and most importantly, cleaner power generation.
As aptly captured by the United States Secretary of States, John Kerry, the COP21 Paris Agreement is a “critical message to the global marketplace” for investment purposes. This however, is most critical time for Nigeria to work assiduously and decisively towards achieving a meaning socio-economic development, sustainably. At a time when power generation is getting lower for some reasons absolutely avoidable, it is critical to move towards harnessing the natural and infinite resources given to us by Mother Nature. Solar power generation has been preached by many and I believe it is time we invest massively to actualize this.
On 8th August, I wrote an article on Nigeria’s economic diversification plans and how to make it sustainable (you can read it again here). A greener economic diversification will have to ensure that the roadmap and every framework for actualizing this effectively are done within the ambit of sustainable practices. The sectors involved must work hand-in-hand with the environment ministry to adopt climate smart agriculture and solid minerals mining and development.
The issue of carbon burning by industries can be regulated. In many countries around the world, industries are consistently kept on their toes by governments, NGOs and even private individuals on the quantity of waste output they produce and dispose on the lands and sea bodies. In our own country, the energy input used by factories and industries is high and not green. They rely on diesel and petroleum powered generators as alternative sources of energy for running their power-consuming plants for production. To balance effects, high energy input results in high carbon outputs. Private users are not excluded from this scenario, many residents are left to fend for themselves and provide power and water for domestic use.
Will the FG compel state governments to take up responsibility for their states or will it work jointly, especially in a time of economic recession and a time when many states primarily rely on the FG’s monthly allocation which is at times not even enough to pay workers’ salaries, let alone carryout developmental projects. How will the government make the citizens and big corporations to adhere to practices to checkmate gas flaring, deforestation, desert encroachment, oil spillage and pollution? Will the government wait for foreign aids and assistance? Will they send bills to the legislative arms to compel everyone to adopt only sustainable practices? How does she intend to swing into action as soon as possible to fulfill its own part of the pact? These are questions we expect to have answers to as soon as possible.
Blog written by Abdulmumin
Abdulmumin Tanko has a master’s degree in Civil Engineering with an insatiable desire for research and writing. A staunch environmental enthusiast and a fervent campaigner for environmental consciousness, he works to break the silence and end the nescience, largely responsible for environmental indiscretion. . He believes that a serene and safer environment begins with YOU. Follow him on Twitter @Tikaysmalls