By Sam Onuigbo FCIS, FNIM
As you are aware, Nigeria and the rest of the world face a huge existential challenge due to the impacts of Climate Change such as drought, coastal and gully erosion, health challenges, desertification with the attendant food shortages and forced migration that has led to insecurity, etc. As experts have said, the situation is so bad that if urgent actions are not taken to reduce the volume of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere, the world as we know it will be completely destroyed in a matter of decades due to the catastrophic impacts of Climate Change.
It is this awareness of the danger of Climate Change that motivated me to sponsor the Climate Change Bill in the 8th Assembly. The objective was to ensure that Nigeria has a legal framework that will help coordinate her efforts at Climate Change mitigation and adaptation. Although the Bill was passed by NASS and duly transmitted to the President, he declined assent due to a number of reasons.
We must remember that during his inaugural address on May 29, 2015, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR promised the nation and the world that his administration will fight Climate Change. This, he has shown, by signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on September 22, 2016; signing the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol on October 2, 2020; participating in several international events on Climate Change; taking visible actions such as the commitment to plant 25millions trees to help in carbon sequestration; provision of support for the Great Green Wall Initiative, amongst others.
As an important arm of Government, it is our duty as Legislators to make laws that will help the Executive realise its goals and its promises to the people. This Bill is part of our contribution to aid Mr. President, and indeed this Government, to achieve its goal and promise of fighting Climate Change.
With this clear conviction, I reviewed the Bill and re-sponsored it in this Assembly. There was however the need to ensure that attention was paid to those parts of the Bill that gave Mr. President concern. To be able to do this, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, adopted a coordinated and collaborative approach which involved the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Honourable Abubakar Malami SAN, and the Ministry of Environment. Accordingly, these ministries nominated representatives to join the Joint Review Committee to work with me to address the
issues raised by Mr. President, while also making the Bill more robust and futuristic. We went to work and came up with a reviewed copy of the Bill.
I am happy that on Tuesday, July 6,2021, during the Committee of the Whole at the House of Representatives, our report was considered and adopted. Furthermore, on July 8, 2021, the Bill– A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Mainstreaming of Climate Change Actions, Establish the National Council on Climate Change; and for Other Related Matters— was passed by the House. It will now be transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.
It is important that I provide you with a breakdown of the key provisions made by the Bill viz:
- Establishment of the National Council on Climate Change to be headed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Other members of the Council are: the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who shall be the Vice Chairman; the Minister responsible for Environment; the Minister responsible for Petroleum Resources; the Minister responsible for Budget and National Planning; the Minister of Justice; the Minister responsible for Mines and Steel Development; the Minister of Finance; the Minister responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development; the Minister responsible for Power; the Minister responsible for Women Affairs; the Minister responsible for Transportation; the Minister responsible for Water Resources; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; National Security Adviser; the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum; The President of Association of Local Government of Nigeria; a representative of the private sector on climate change or environment related matters, nominated by the most representative registered national umbrella association; a representative of women, youths, and persons with disabilities, each to be nominated by the most representative registered national umbrella association; a representative of environment-related Civil Society Organizations (CSO) appointed by the President, on the recommendation of the Minister responsible for Environment; and the Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change, who shall be the Secretary.
- The Bill also seeks for the establishment of a Secretariat to the National Council on Climate Change to be headed by a Director-General. It will also have six Zonal Coordinators for the six geo-political zones, and State Directors for the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. The Secretariat shall be the Council’s administrative and technical arm and shall, on behalf of the Council monitor efforts by public and private entities to carry out their Climate Change responsibilities and report same to the Council and the National Assembly.
- Development of a Carbon Budget for Nigeria with the ultimate aim of attaining net zero emission between 2050-2070. To achieve the Carbon Budget, there will be yearly and five yearly carbon reduction targets for private and public entities, as will be captured in the National Climate Change Action Plan.
- Setting up of the Climate Change Fund to provide funding for activities geared towards attaining Nigeria’s Climate Change obligations.
- Provision of checks and balances through oversight by the National Assembly, the Secretariat, and engagement with the public.
- Provision for Climate Change education and awareness creation.
- Provision for Nigeria to address Climate Change using nature-based solutions such as REDD+ (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks), and Environmental-Economic Accounting.
- Provision for the setting up of mechanisms for carbon emissions trading and carbon tax.
I am grateful to the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the leadership and members of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the House of Representatives and his staff for working relentlessly on this, the Honourable Minister of Justice, the Minister of Environment and the Minister of State for Environment, for the support and leadership they have shown. In the same vein, I thank the Ministry of Environment for not only sending representatives to help with the work, but also for setting up a Legal Working Group whose inputs have been incorporated into the Bill.
Special appreciation also goes to Climate Parliament for their support. I must also thank especially all members of GLOBE Nigeria and Climate Parliament Nigeria for the support and leadership they have continued to exercise on all issues concerning the wellbeing of our planet and sustainable development. In the same vein, I commend the media and all Climate Change activists in Nigeria and abroad who relentlessly drummed up support for Nigeria to have a Climate Change Law. Without you, we would not have had the backing of a critical mass that encouraged us to continue to push.
Thank you all and God bless you.
Rep. Onuigbo is a ranking Member of the House of Representatives