By Sam Onuigbo

 

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One of today’s challenges considered germane and urgent is raising and sustaining adequate awareness and appreciation of the issue of climate change. The fact that many even among the elite class of society still regard climate change as yet an esoteric concept that has distant if any, consequences for man, nation and the world at large is very worrisome. In fact, that constitutes the greatest clog in the wheel of progress to address the challenge and enlist sufficient buy-in nationally.

We must come to terms with the fact that climate change poses real, potent and urgent dangers to our lives and living conditions more than ever before. Until we come to realize that climate change is a factor responsible for the incessant herdsmen-farmers’ clash in different parts of the country; insurgency in the North-east; devastation of the shoreline and the destruction of the livelihood of fishermen; we would keep viewing the problem as a distant distraction. Until we accept that lives and properties worth billions of naira were lost to the 2012 flood disaster in parts of the country occasioned by climate change we would not change our attitude and response to the dangers it poses. Until we appreciate that the rising wave of cancerous ailments claiming lives frequently in Nigeria is traceable to the subtle surge of climate change effects we would continue to treat the issue with kid gloves.

Nigeria is signatory to many global treaties including the all important United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The objective of the UNFCCC treaty is to stabilize the concentrations of climate damaging emission in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous impacts on environment and humans. Nigeria has made intended commitments concerning the reduction of dangerous emission including carbon dioxide, methane gas, and oxides of nitrogen and has submitted same to the UNFCCC secretariat. As part of Nigeria’s preparedness for the global fight against the impacts of climate change on mankind and environment, the House and Senate Committees on Climate Change have been retained and established in the 8th legislative regime.

International and national responses to changes in the global climate will define the investment and development needs of the near future. These responses will reshape our current efforts and task our national institutions and capabilities to upgrade to new and innovative approaches. These adaptive changes are necessary in order to create sustainable and climate-friendly solutions. The hallmark of these solutions will include new initiatives such as investment in broad spectra of transport and renewable energy infrastructures, establishment of clean energy storage and distribution networks, and smart agriculture. For instance, the need to cut transport-related emissions will change the way we commute. In the health sector, the need for eco-system-related disease surveillance will increase. Specifically, preventive medicine must be strengthened to manage foreseeable rise in cancer, respiratory and other organ-related systems failure.

Consequently, management approach for climate change must be multi-sectoral, inter-ministerial and community-based. The multi-stakeholder and participatory nature of climate change management will make financing of new and innovative solutions difficult going by current funding structure. This is because financing the transition to the new climate-friendly initiatives and operational innovativeness will have to be gradual but decisive, comprehensive and inclusive. This is particularly so because anticipated initiatives and innovative solutions cut across statutory mandates of existing government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Essentially, the participatory requirement for climate change management may not be solved by new and dedicated institution but by new partnership and financing mechanisms. An innovative solution might be the creation of a National Climate Fund to finance new partnerships and initiatives that will lead to fulfilling Nigeria’s intended commitment to climate change management.

Nigeria’s intended commitments to climate change management are aimed at maintaining the current carbon emission level of around 2 tones CO2 equivalent through to 2030 in spite of ambitious annual economic growth rate. To actualize this commitment, Nigeria targets a 20 – 45% reduction in emission between 2015 and 2030. Some of Nigeria’s key measures to attain the emission reduction commitment include: working towards ending gas flaring by 2030, adding 13,000 MW of off-grid solar PV; increasing investment in efficient gas power stations; reducing current power transmission losses and achieving 2% per annum energy efficiency (30% by 2030); development of mass transport schemes; and adoption of smart agriculture and extensive reforestation.

In overseeing the fulfillment of these commitments, the House Committee on Climate Change (HCCC) will be driven by the vision ‘to manage Nigeria’s efforts at enhancing climate change awareness, and mitigating and adapting to climate change’.  The mission of the HCCC will be to, through legislative intervention in line with the House of Representatives’ Legislative Agenda, promote resource allocation to climate-friendly programmes that will enhance Nigeria’s resilience to climate impact across all the economic sectors’. The objectives of the HCCC include ensuring that climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes reflect adequate support for new climate-friendly initiatives; ensuring that sectoral climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes meet the set national commitments in the short and long terms; and provision of political and legislative support for the development of innovative mechanisms for financing climate change programmes in Nigeria.

It is crucial to highlight that in the immediate past, climate change issues were only ‘staring’ at humanity, but today, the negative effects of climate change are vigorously and violently confronting and almost ‘overpowering’ human survival efforts and threatening our earth. Therefore, the time to act and act decisively is now.

Rep. Onuigbo, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Climate Change, delivered this remark at the National Assembly recently

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