Nigeria’s bid for climate change

President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion that no country can confront climate change alone should serve as save our soul to Nigeria’s development partners like the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), World Bank, among others, to assist the country in combating the threat to our environment.

In an address to the opening session of UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Poland on Monday, Buhari urged UN-member countries to rededicate themselves to the task of rebuilding and restoring a healthy environment for future generations. He  warned that the challenges of climate change, including rising temperatures, desertification, floods, low agricultural yields and drying up of water bodies, are enormous and evident to all.

Citing the receding Lake Chad, he noted that the effects of climate change are felt more on the vulnerable communities who lacked the capacity and technology to properly address such challenges. “Obviously, no country can confront the phenomenon alone. In this regard, Nigeria believes in joint and cooperative efforts to tackle the problem,” the president said.

Speaking specifically on Lake Chad, the president reaffirmed that Nigeria remains committed to saving the lake, which is a source of livelihood to 40 million people, from extinction. He said Nigeria would build on the success of an international conference held earlier in February this year in Abuja to create additional awareness globally on the serious environmental and security challenges facing the Lake Chad region.

The president told COP 24 Summit, attended by world leaders and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that a consensus was reached at the Abuja conference that an inter-basin water transfer from the Congo Basin remains the most sustainable option available to resuscitate and safeguard this precious water body that was once the 6th largest fresh water lake in the world.

On behalf of the member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, President Buhari thanked the Italian Government for donating 1.5 million Euros towards completion of the feasibility studies on the proposed inter-basin water transfer project.

Buhari also used the occasion to highlight what Nigeria had done and is doing on climate change after the adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015.

“We in Nigeria have commenced the implementation of our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the next 15 years, we aim to achieve 20% emissions reduction below Business as Usual (BAU) and 45% emissions reduction with the support of our international partners by 2030,” he said.

The president pledged that Nigeria will continue to pursue industrialization and economic development, with sound environmental management and best practices. He added that Nigeria has unlocked the potential of its sovereign green bond to galvanize private capital to finance environmentally sustainable projects.

At the opening of COP24, President Andrzej Duda of Poland, said the conference is taking place on the exact location where a coal mine was once operated, adding that Katowice is now one of the greenest cities in Poland.

In an apparent response to Buhari’s appeal, the World Bank Group announced plans to double its investments in the fight against climate change to around $200 billion for more than five years. “Climate change is an existential threat to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. These new targets demonstrate how seriously we are taking this issue,” World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim said.

The investments, announced in a statement released Monday, will apply to the investment period for 2021-2025, which would support countries in their efforts to take “ambitious climate action.” The funds would be allocated for countries “to build better adapted homes, schools and infrastructure, and invest in climate smart agriculture, sustainable water management and responsive social safety nets,” said World Bank Chief Executive, Kristalina Georgieva.

The Paris pact provides an outline for countries working together to limit the earth’s warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius. Most efforts to prevent the planet heating up relate to stopping the release of greenhouse gases as soon as possible.

It is instructive that 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.

Since the ratification and domestication of the Paris agreement in April 2017, Nigeria has made frantic efforts including the formulation of policy documents like the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Unfortunately, owing to poor financing, Nigeria is still lagging in implementing the climate change agreement in areas like temperature rise, erratic rainfall, sand storms, desertification, low agricultural yields, drying up of water bodies, gully erosions and flooding.

We, therefore, urge the federal government to explore every avenue in tapping from the World Bank’s $200 billion climate change fund to raise its required $142 billion, i.e $10 billion per annum, to meet her NDC target by 2030. Nigeria should also adopt innovative approach through the issuance of green bonds, which has gained recognition as means of raising finance for climate friendly purposes.

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