By Aliu Akoshile
Except against all odds, Africa is set to host the 27th edition of the now famous Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which kicked off in Berlin, in Germany, in 1992. COP27, scheduled for Egypt Sharm-el-Sheikh peninsula in November this year marks the fifth time that Africa will host the climate summit, having been hosted by Morocco (2001 and 2016), Kenya (2006) and South Africa (2011). According to a 2021 UNCTAD report, climate change poses an existential threat to the lives and even the livelihoods of some 490 million people living in extreme poverty in Africa.
As Africa’s big brother, Nigeria bears much of the continent’s climate impacts in many areas. For example, the country’s vast coastline, which stretches for about 853 km, has receded over the years due to the overlapping of waves that swallow the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in the southern region. With sea levels already expected to rise by around 65cm by the end of the century, further coastal erosion will only worsen the environmental crisis facing the country.
On another level, rivers are drying up as desertification wreaks havoc in the arid zone of the far north. Biodiversity loss and deadly floods that have ravaged farmlands and cities are other challenges facing the world’s most populous black nation. Similarly, the degradation of tropical forests, the depletion of flora and fauna due to illegal deforestation as well as criminal logging, are on the increase. It should be noted, however, that the problem of deforestation in Nigeria is exacerbated by the prohibitive cost of cooking gas and kerosene, and the virtual absence of clean alternative energy for the use of the poor masses.
The impact of climate change is also telling in the area of agriculture and the quest for food security in Nigeria. It is a cynical irony that a population of over 200 million people is largely fed by rural peasants using traditional hoes and cutlass as their main tools. By default, those farmers who are not agro-tech savvy can only grow crops subject to the vagaries of unstable weather conditions. Of course, when there is excessive rainfall or extreme drought, the harvest of agricultural products is catastrophic, leading to an imbalance between demand and supply and runaway food price inflation.
For a country in dire need of industrialization, erratic electricity supply is a major deterrent to manufacturers and other entrepreneurs who are currently experiencing climate impacts. And with barely 3,500 MW of electricity production, the factories and companies that are rooted in Africa’s largest economy are weighed down by the search for alternative energy sources. It is estimated that over 60 million Nigerians depend on fossil fuel powered generators for 48.6% of the electricity needed in their homes and businesses, and at a whopping cost of $14 billion per year. The impact is no less severe in environmental waste, as Nigeria produces 32 million tons of solid waste annually, with plastic waste making up 2.5 million tons, making the country one of the biggest producers of waste in Africa.
Yet the challenges posed by some of the climate impacts amount to mild threats in the face of the existential danger inherent in Nigeria’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions footprint, estimated at 126.9 million tonnes in 2020. In fairness, Nigeria has always been on the move to keep pace with global climate change advocacy. As a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2004 and quickly followed it up with a national climate change policy aimed at building a climate-resilient society. environment. The nation’s interest was further solidified in 2012 when it was admitted as a voluntary member of the UN Environment’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition, tasked with reducing climate pollutants in ten sectors. impact of the global economy.
President Muhammadu Buhari took a major step in 2015 when he committed Nigeria to the Paris Agreement and presented the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) with a commitment to conditionally reduce GHG emissions from 45% by 2030. The Nigerian voice resounded again last year. at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, where President Buhari announced a net zero emissions target for 2060. He then signed into law, in November 2021, the Climate Change Act which commits the federal government to climate change plans. measurable actions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
As Nigeria prepares for robust engagement with other state and non-state actors at the fifth Africa Global Climate Summit, President Buhari must ensure the seamless harmonization of the country’s environmental policies and actions, and the integration of all key stakeholders in the field of energy. transition, climate finance, renewable energy, biodiversity, waste management and media. The establishment of the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC) and the appointment of an environmental veteran, Dr. Salisu Dahiru, as its pioneering chief executive, are consciously taken steps. It is hoped that this step will now accelerate the country’s climate actions and convert the secular movement into rapid movement.
Ahead of COP27, Nigeria’s crucial tasks must include setting a strong agenda and coordinating Africa’s strategic response to global climate debates, particularly the blame game on GHG emissions guilt. , the delay in fixing global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the dilemma over green and blue hydrogen options and the resistance to buy back the $100 billion a year promised to Africa to finance the mitigation and adaptation to climate change, among others. Major industrialized countries that are known to be guilty of GHG pollution must be held accountable for the impacts of climate change that Africa is experiencing today. Nigeria must lead the charge.
This is an updated version of the article published yesterday
Akoshile, an environmental journalist, wrote via [email protected]