It is almost two years since the international community adopted the historic climate deal at the 21st conference of parties (COP21) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The primary goal of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the ensuing threats of climate change by taking measures to limit global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius. Nigeria is among the 169 countries (of the 197 parties to the convention) that ratified the agreement.
A key requirement from the Paris Agreement was the development of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) by all parties. The INDCs, which later became nationally determined contributions (NDCs), are expected to reflect the best effort of a country in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Like other parties, Nigeria prepared and submitted its INDC to the UNFCCC at the climate convention in 2015. In this article, we will review the targets set in the document, what it means to Nigerians, the progress so far, and what stakeholders are doing to make it a success.
Nigeria’s INDC/NDC at a glance
The full document submitted by Nigeria can be found here, and an executive summary here. Even though the country is neither industrialized nor among the so-called newly industrialized nations, much is expected from her, being the biggest economy in Africa. The INDC outlines ambitious policy measures aimed at incorporating sustainability in economic development with a significant reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emission. The implementation period is expected to be from 2015 to 2030. It is important to mention that the INDC was supposed to be translated into a workable NDC, but the same document was forwarded to the UNFCCC as Nigeria’s first NDC.
Based on current statistics, emissions are projected to reach 900 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2030 under business as usual scenario. Nigeria pledges a reduction of these emissions by 20% independently and possibly attain 45% reduction with the support of the international community through finance and investment. Notably, the country intends to put an end to gas flaring, improve energy efficiency by 30%, add 13 GW of renewable electricity to the grid, improve public transportation, and establish climate-smart agriculture and reforestation within the implementation timeline.
Similar to submissions by other countries, the proposed NDC does not elaborate how key stakeholders, namely the government, industries, NGOs and the masses can work together to achieve the ambitious goals. Nevertheless, it cited Nigeria Climate Change Policy Response and Strategy (NCCPRS), appropriate line ministries and agencies as being responsible for its implementation. Whether detailed action plans are available for them to follow is not clear.
Key Targets of the NDC (Image by NIAFNG.ORG)
What the NDC means for Nigerians
The Paris agreement strongly underscored the collective global effort as key to the success of the fight against climate change. Emission of GHGs vary disproportionately among countries, yet the repercussions would affect all and sundry. In fact, Africa is expected to be one of the continents hardest hit by climate change through severe floods, droughts, and storms despite being among the least GHGs contributors. These impacts are already palpable in many parts of the country.
The implementation of Nigeria’s NDC alongside the global community will contribute to the stabilization of the climate thereby reducing the chances of more dire effects. Meanwhile, the measures to be taken have potentials of transforming the economy and creating more opportunities for everyone in the short run. In facts, the government the projects to be implemented are expected to create job opportunities and direct income for the citizens. Moreover, improvement of habitats and agricultural lands would have a positive impact on food security. Quality of life will also improve if pollution and climate-related diseases are tackled.
Implementation of the NDC
Analysts have for long noted lack of commitment with regards to policy implementation to be a major problem in many developing countries, including Nigeria. It is now two years since it has been developed, one must be wondering, how much has been achieved so far?
In December 2016, the then minister of environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, stated that the government would begin the implementation of the NDC this year starting with Green Bonds project. Green bonds are loans obtained by issuers (usually governments) with a sole purpose of financing green projects. Later in May, the former minister reaffirmed at a UN conference that the green bond would be launched in the coming few weeks. The initiative is expected to generate billions of Naira to fund renewable energy, transport, and agriculture projects. Importantly, a green bond advisory group (GBAG) has been established by the ministry which is already working with various stakeholders to make it a reality. In addition, the 2017 budget has earmarked over N12 billion for the green projects expected to commence in the third quarter.
The effort by the government to opt into the green bond market is laudable especially considering the fact that it has been around for a decade with no African country taking an interest. Never the less, there is still a need for strong commitment on putting words into action.
If the implementation of the green projects eventually begins this year, various aspects of the INDC i.e. renewable energy, reforestation, and climate education would have been launched. As for gas flaring, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently boasted of cutting it down from 36% to 10% in the past 10 years. It is not clear whether the ministry of environment has a revised strategy of working with NNPC to end the flaring by 2020. What is being done to implement other measures such as climate-smart agriculture, climate-smart cities, and transport shift to mass transit is yet to be seen.
Having said that, it is important for the government to understand that the goal set in the NDC cannot be achieved through these few clean-up projects while activities that generate GHGs are getting more attention. As pointed out by Greg Odogwu recently, government’s commitment to COP21 is questionable because some new national policies and action plans contradict the NDC. These include the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) that demands an urgent increase in oil and gas production and the Nigeria’s Coal Power Project. If we are truly committed to a better future, the objectives of the NDC must be incorporated in all national projects.
Considering that the Paris Agreement expects parties to report their progress on NDCs every two years and that the agreement came into force on 4 November 2016, Nigeria is not late putting the proposed plan into action. What is important having a workable project plan that would ensure the attainment of the goals set by 2030. The measures can be taken concurrently (which is desirable because they are interrelated) or sequentially, depending on our capacity. I would expect the government to be resolute on achieving the unconditional contributions without having to wait on external funding.
Translation of the NDC into a practical and actionable plan that incorporates all relevant actors is crucial and should be the significant first step to be taken. This may perhaps be done with relevant players and actors from the sectors in order to ensure plans made are pragmatic.
These actors may be farmers, marketers, conservationists, environmental NGOs etc. who can play a significant role but only if they are involved. Government must be very proactive in playing this role.
An associated step to be taken with the translation action mentioned above is capacity building among the players as well as adequate training with respect to policy translation, implementation, monitoring, and reporting of results. What many players need including the supervising/regulatory government is sufficient understanding of the issues at stake and defining how to implement, monitor and report climate friendly strategies and emissions reductions.
A clear methodology on monitoring emissions and other climate data should be defined for emission related organizations. An effective monitoring may be digitized and frequently updated for faster dissemination of results.
Youth and youth-led organizations should also be involved in all stages for many reasons. They currently make up the highest percentage of the population and would live longer to feel the negative impacts of climate change. A structured mechanism of involving them must be in place to ensure their contributions and views are considered.
It is also important to ensure that policies do not remain on paper as it has been the practice in many sectors. This can be achieved through proper follow-up and effective communication between parties involved. Partisanship must also be avoided in all phases of the projects so that change of government would not lead to abandonment.
The effects of climate change on Nigeria’s economy, environment and communities have already manifested. The cannot be a better time for a collective intervention for a better and sustainable future.
Written by Sada.
Sada Haruna is the IT strategist at Green Habitat and a contributor to the blog. He is a PhD student in the department of Environmental Engineering at the University of Ottawa. His current research focuses on safe disposal of toxic mine wastes and remains an ardent advocate of environmental sustainability. He enjoys reading and coding at his leisure time. Follow him on Twitter @H_Sadah