The focus on climate change issues appears to be divided among nations, despite the historic agreement signed by more than 140 countries - including Nigeria - in Paris, France in December 2015. While frantic efforts are being made by some countries to tackle the issue through tree planting, the emission of greenhouse gases is on the rise in many other nations. Ugo Aliogo examines the issue
It has been estimated that average temperature will increase by more than 20 degrees Centigrade by the end of the 21st century, and could increase by as much as 30 degrees C by 2050 and even by 60 degrees C by 2100. The negative effects of this warning on the ocean surrounding the continent are already being felt.
The warning is coming on the heels of the devastating effects of climate change around the world. Presently, many regions are experiencing rising sea levels, warmer waters, increasing ocean acidification, flooding, earthquakes, and pollution.
An expert in natural resources, Mr. Yuvan Beejadhur, said sea temperatures in coastal boundary systems may continue to increase over the next decades and centuries. His fear is that if the current trend continues, sea temperatures will increase from 0.620 degrees C to 0.850 degrees C over the next few years and from 2.440 degrees C to 3.320 degrees C over the long term.
Despite the threats of climate change to the environment, many countries are not making enough efforts in implementing the agreement. However, there are some countries still making spirited efforts to implement the Paris Agreement as part of measures to address the challenge.
The Paris Agreement was signed in December 2015 and it entered into force on October 5, 2016. A month later, at the (COP22) Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakech, Morocco, world leaders formally adopted the Marrakech Action Proclamation which recommitted parties to full implementation of the Paris agreement.
As at April 2017, of the 143 countries that have so far ratified the agreement, 33 are in Africa, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.
Since the signing of the agreement, several countries have been implementing climate resilience activities that will allow them to adapt to the harsh changes. Beyond ratification, many countries have also fulfilled a key requirement in the agreement by formulating their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
The NDCs are the countries' individual efforts to achieve climate change goals. In the NDC plan, majority of African countries have stated measures to prioritise climate proofing development activities especially in the economic sectors such as agriculture and energy.
Tackling of climate change in Nigeria is not receiving the required attention needed, many would say. The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibril, at the 72nd United Nation General Assembly, (UNGA) said addressing the issue within the overall development challenges of a developing nation such as Nigeria is no simple task, stressing that the main challenge is translating commitment to pragmatic actions and generating the required financing.
He said the adverse impacts of climate change such as temperature rise, erratic rainfall, sand storms, desertification, low agricultural yields, drying up of water bodies, gully erosions and flooding are real issues in the country.
With the Paris Agreement on climate change and the agenda 2030, which provided the global framework for action, the Minister explained that the country is committed to their implementation through an economic transformation, which places inclusive green growth at its heart.
Jibril stated that financing climate action by developing countries would require financial support from developing countries which is hinged on the $100 billion by 2020 commitment at COP21.
He added that the country is working at how best to mobilise finance and investment, including committing part of the 2018 capital budget to it, adding that they are also working to attract private sector partnerships in addition to support from development partners.
The minister further explained that they are greening the budget to reflect Nigeria's efforts to realising her NDC and they are set to "launch our first ever Green Bond soon to fund a pipeline of projects all targeted at reducing emissions towards a greener economy."
According to him, "The NDC ambition under Climate Change Accord would cost an estimated $142 billion to meet the 2030 target. The NDC is a binding agreement which spelt out the actions a country intends to take to address climate change both in terms of adaptation and mitigation when it ratifies the Paris Agreement.
"It is estimated that Nigeria will require around $142 billion, translating to about $10 billion per annum to meet her NDC target by 2030. In the midst of this vulnerability, an opportunity resides for the Nigerian economy to grow in a manner that is climate resilient and empower people while meeting its energy deficiency. One of the innovative means of exploring this opportunity is through the issuance of green bonds, which has gained recognition as means of raising finance for climate friendly purposes.
"Accordingly, the Federal Government has plans to issue a programme of N150 billion in green bonds over the next few months. This is with a pilot issue of N12.384 billion in the third quarter of 2017 and the balance over the course of the budget year. Collaboration between Ministry of Environment and Finance continues to pull together the institutional partners necessary to achieve what would be Nigeria and Africa's first sovereign green bond and the world's third," he added.
In a bid to ensure the climate change issue receives a major boost with the passage of a bill for the National Council of Climate Change (NCCC), the House of Representatives recently passed a bill to provide a legal framework for mainstreaming of climate change responses and actions into government policy formulation and implementation.
The bill also proposed the establishment of a council to coordinate climate change governance and support the adaptation and mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change in the country.
The sponsor of the bill, Hon. Sam Onuigbo, (Abia-PDP), said the need for a strong national institution to address the effects of climate change compelled him to come up with the bill. He also stated that the absence of a law on issues of climate change has scared investors from investing in the country.
He added: "Today, there is no law on climate change, all we have are policies and that has been a serious setback for the country as far as climate actions are concerned. Climate change is a global issue that cuts across the world and that is what informed the move of the United Nations' convention on climate change. But back home, there is no law both at the national and sub-national levels and that has necessitated this bill. The early coming into force of the 2015 Paris Climate agreement reinforced the necessity of climate change legislation.
"It will facilitate the domestication of the agreement and enable Nigeria to effectively implement its commitments, particularly the emission reductions target. But the bill will provide a framework for a federal budget appropriation process that institutionalises transparency and accountability of climate related sources, including international climate finance. Every leader determines what happens to his subjects, and the President has given climate change a go by the signing the UN treaty on Climate Change and in his subsequent speeches back home," he said.
Onuigbo further explained that absence of a law that prescribed legal obligation for compliance with elements of a national climate policy and all other climate-related initiatives and programmes had also inhibited climate change management in the country.
The lawmaker added that the bill intended to balance institutions and approaches responsible in addressing climate challenges across economic sectors and through public and private participation.
He said it would also aid the setting up of guidelines for prescription of range of economic instruments and regulatory techniques to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions.
Founder of the Lufasi Nature Park, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, recently asserted that no country including Nigeria has given the issue of climate change the needed attention and importance that it merits.
His view is that while some experts would argue that Nigeria is showing lackadaisical attitude towards this global campaign, countries such as the US accounts for the largest emission of greenhouse gas in the world.
Majekodunmi's stance is that the US is in denial of this environmental pollution, noting that Nigeria was one of the first countries to sign the climate agreement and one of the first to ratify it.
His argument is that the signing of the agreement puts Nigeria in a leadership position, which he described as a positive sign for the country. He however argued that the challenge is the actualisation of the process, which he noted is quite questionable, "because of the terrible corruption of the country. The fear is that the agreement may not be implemented positively."
He added: "From a policy angle, government should take the issue of climate change seriously. The citizens on their part should insist that government take the issue seriously. The ecological funds need to be judiciously utilised. This has not been done in the past. There is a lot of money which is supposed to be used to protect the environment.
"If the environment deteriorates everything is lost. The climate change bill needs to go through various Houses and become fully established. Therefore, you have multi-lateral approaches. The different Ministries should be involved. We need to protect our forest and regenerate. There should massive tree planting," Majekodunmi added.
Beyond implementation of the climate change agreement, there exists two other environment issues which have not adequately received the federal government's attention; flooding and the cleanup of Ogoniland (which will take 30 years according to the United Nations Environmental Protection). Under the current administration the process for the cleaning was initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
But like every policy and programme, implementation is always a challenge. In most cases when it is implemented, continuity is also a challenge. In 2016, lots of communities were ravaged by heavy flooding in the country, and nothing concrete was done to forestall future occurrence, rather it was treated with levity. In 2017, more communities were destroyed in the country.
It is saddening that these environmental issues are not brought to the frontburner of government policies. The country has lost a large amount of its forest vegetation due to man's activities and there are not conscious efforts at regaining it.
The wildlife habitat is in danger due to the illegal activities of poaching and destruction of the habitat. National parks and games reserves can contribute huge revenue to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any nation if properly positioned. They can also drive economic growth and create jobs.
Kenya is a case study of a country generating huge revenue from its national park. The country has 54 national parks and games reserves, and boasts of a well-developed national park, which is used for research, and tourism.
They have made frantic efforts in preserving the wildlife habitat and the forest vegetation. If there is commitment on the part of government, the remaining arable land can be harnessed not only for agriculture, but help boost foreign exchange. Deforestation is not the solution, but afforestation in order to restore dignity and honour to the environment, for the sake of future generations.