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COP27: Nigeria’s role in fighting climate crisis

This year’s 27th annual Conference of Parties (COP27) is being held in Egypt, and countries like Nigeria will be a point of reference if they…

This year’s 27th annual Conference of Parties (COP27) is being held in Egypt, and countries like Nigeria will be a point of reference if they choose to make themselves visible. The key focus will be on areas that will promise innovation and clean technologies, as well as the impact of climate change on water and agriculture.

As one of the 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, according to the United Nations, Nigeria does not emit significant carbon particles that contribute to climate change. Nevertheless, the country still suffers from the results of others, and this is the same for many poor economies in the southern hemisphere.

The 2022 rainy season is a sliver of evidence that brought severe and untimely rains to several communities across the country. The flash floods, landslides, and gully erosion have affected many parts of the country, displacing over 1.3 million people, killing over 600 and injuring more than 2,400 people.

One of the most affected areas in the country is Jigawa State. At least 50 people have died since the start of the rainy season, according to the Nigeria National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and media sources. Floods devastated numerous houses, infrastructure, farmlands, animals, and assets, forcing hundreds of residents to relocate to temporary camps. The estimated losses are expected to increase the food shortage in the country.

As a leading food producer in Africa, Nigeria can gain support at the COP27 meeting with a clear focus on water and agriculture, but it is only achievable with impactful proposals.

Polluting countries can only take their actions more seriously when the affected countries show concern about what they are doing. The affected countries must not separate climate action from the consequences of climate change. If action is separated from consequences, no one is happy with the outcome.

As John Stossel puts it, when individuals take from a common pot, regardless of how much they put in it, each person has the incentive to be a free rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty and will not be refilled, which is a bad situation even for the earlier takers. The global economies have understood the point of working together, and they will welcome ideas from vulnerable countries.

The United Nations Secretary-General’s opening speech of COP27 noted that climate change is on a different timeline and a different scale. He reminded everyone that the clock is ticking and we are fighting for our lives. The warning can be linked to the lack of commitments to the Paris Agreement (COP21) of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. The window for achieving the target is closing.

If the 1.5°C limit is to be maintained, the past must likewise refrain from developing and utilising fossil fuel resources.

In Nigeria, efforts were made to pass the Climate Change Bill in 2021, but implementation is usually lacking. For example, the aim to generate 30 per cent of the country’s power from renewable energy by 2030 is plausible, according to The Climate Action Tracker (CAT). Nigeria also aims to achieve a net zero between 2050 and 2070. However, CAT noted that the policy implementation has been slow compared to other countries.

On the flip side, the International Energy Agency (IEA) pointed out that growing the domestic, regional, and export gas markets will contradict the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees limit.

According to the IEA, no new oilfield is required if the world is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The proposal to revitalise the coal industry would be incompatible with the Paris Agreement, as coal power generation in Africa would have to be phased out by 2034. These strategies risk leaving Nigeria out for climate financing.

Nigeria is in a dilemma. The country makes little contribution to climate change but is hugely impacted by the consequences of it and is required to make a huge commitment to emitting greenhouse gasses. But Nigeria is not alone in this crisis.

Africa, as a whole, only contributes three per cent of the global greenhouse emission, but the severe consequences of climate change are felt in the region. African leaders are leading in advocating for the support of reducing greenhouse emissions globally, but Nigeria is lagging.

The climate change support commitment in COP27 is already happening. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced a £65.5m green technology innovation and clean energy investments with Kenya and Egypt. They will also launch a new Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership and confirm more than £150 million for protecting rainforests and natural habitats, including the Congo Basin and Amazon.

However, Nigeria would have benefitted from the global economies if they had presented proposals to improve innovation and clean technologies to provide water and improve agriculture. People in Jigawa would have benefitted, similarly to those in Bayelsa and other affected areas. The financial package for climate change can cushion the country’s fiscal burden, especially in the agricultural sector – the highest contributor to employment.

Of course, it is too late for the current administration in Nigeria to make any meaningful progress, and they are supporting the candidacy of a person who feels working with the global community is like taking a poisonous holy communion. At this moment, a drastic change is unavoidable, and we must ensure that we achieve the change we choose while still having the option.

The opportunity for initiating a climate proposal will not remain open for long. It is shrinking as countries continue to exploit it.

Nigeria must act rapidly to reshape the future of employment, transportation, and energy usage and make the notion of a “green good life” a reality for future generations.

NASIR AMINU

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