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Post COP26: Outcomes, Implications On Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability

Achieving Nigeria’s net-zero emissions target to tackle the threat of climate change on livelihood sources such as water, health, forest, and food production remains a fundamental question that must be answered if the nation must keep to its 1.5ºC global temperature commitment.

Minister of State for the Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor (middle); the Director of Department of Climate Change (DCC), Dr. Iniobong Abiola-Awe, and other participants during the Post COP26 National Stakeholders Consultative Meeting organised by the Ministry of Environment in Abuja

At the just-concluded 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow, President Muhammadu Buhari presented a national roadmap showing how Nigeria intends to meet up with the Paris Agreement it ratified in 2016. While presenting, perhaps out of his personal desire to urgently protect his country from the anticipated environmental calamity or maybe to merely display showmanship, the President pledged to decarbonise Nigeria’s economy and set to achieve a net-zero target by 2060.

To merge his vow with action, he signed the pending Climate Change Bill into law immediately he returned from the conference where he took the historic oath to give legitimacy to climate change affairs and facilitate the establishment of a council to help accomplish the nation’s goal.

Back home, the President’s statement generated intensive public reactions especially among industry watchers who described it as rather being over-ambitious. They are apprehensive about the implications of trying to achieve the set target and want a careful review of the key sectors where the reduction is expected and come out with a clear adaptation plan showing how Nigerians will cope with the structural adjustments. These demands, they argued, are necessary to help align the president’s promise with the country’s economic prosperity.

Now come to think of it, if truth is to be told, can Nigeria beyond rhetoric achieve a net-zero economy by 2060 as promised by the nation’s leader? Remember that one of his loud calls while in Glasgow was an appeal to the rich countries begging them to fulfill their $1 billion financial commitment to enable poor countries to carry out adaptation projects. It reveals his mind and where he’s expecting to source some of these funds to actualise the nation’s climate target.

Without a doubt, therefore, achieving a net-zero emissions economy in a global climate conversation that is openly characterised by all sorts of international politics and financial insincerity requires deep inward assessment and in-house dressing.

COP26 ended without addressing several vital issues and negotiations were extended by an additional day before a contentious agreement was reached in the form of the Glasgow Pact. Different parties have expressed their displeasure over the Glasgow deal and pointed at how it failed in the delivery of their expectations. Whether you refer to them as less developed or worst still poor as popularly described, these countries are seeking justice to know why they should continue to suffer for a problem that the developed nations are responsible for. And the most annoying aspect of it all is the rat-race technique deployed by these polluters in their resource mobilisation strategy to fix the issue, portraying these affected countries as baggers who are seeking help rather than the polluters paying to correct their ecological devastation.

“The pledge made by the President and other outcomes of COP26 has significant implications for Nigeria which demands careful reflection and articulation,” said Chief Sharon Ikeazor, the Minister of State for the Environment.

Ikeazor, who made the statement while addressing a group of participants on Thursday, 16th December, 2021 during a national stakeholder consultative meeting that was held in Abuja, told them that her Ministry organised the exercise to bring actors together to brainstorm on the outcomes of Nigeria’s engagements at COP26. It also represents the government’s effort to take stock of the economic implications of the Glasgow agreement and draw a national roadmap for the attainment of future plans.

The announcement of the signing of the new law was received as good news by the nation’s environment boss and believes that a bottom-top method that comprises a whole-of-society integrated approach can help Nigeria achieve its climate change goal. This suggestion is tied to her conviction that it will encourage social inclusion rather than discord in the execution of climate activities if adopted.

Dealing with climate change in Nigeria simply means solving economic challenges, explaining how future diseases in the health sector are going to be handled, providing solutions for clean drinking water, and how to manage the uncontrollable population growth to avoid land struggle as currently experienced in most parts of the country in the form of farmers and herders clashes. Therefore, this meeting, the Minister summarised, is the first attempt to bring the public together to realise that hope and cheer the stakeholders to actively participate in the discussion processes without leaving anyone behind.

Considering the caliber of personalities that attended the event and the focus of their discussions, the gathering can fairly be rated as successful since its objectives and expectations were met. At least the majority of the participants acknowledged the fact that the programme was highly insightful as it opened their minds to the problems and available solutions on how Nigeria can tackle the climate crisis.

Another key achievement of the meeting worthy of note is the rapid need to harmonise the activities of the seven sectors under the NDCs and come up with a common position before COP27 in Egypt next year.  “This is to ensure that we are united in the same voice when presenting at COP27,” says Olumide Idowu, the co-founder of the International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI Africa).

Idowu believes that this harmony will help prepare Nigeria to attract some of the required finances to carry out mitigation and adaptation ventures at COP27 if achieved. Solving this problem, for him, requires a broad stakeholder approach as already observed, and wants the government to establish a database where eco-champions can display and share knowledge on their activities.

Even when you combine all the promises and actions reached in Glasgow, keeping1.5ºC insight can only be achieved if every country delivers on what they have pledged. Shedding more light on this point, the Head of Climate Change and Energy, West Africa, Sean Melbourne, added that these deliveries must include new commitments to enhance their NDCs, which they agreed to revisit prior to COP27.

Melbourne, who was represented by Adesuwa Obasuyi, who is the Climate Change Policy Manager at the British High Commission in Abuja, said the Glasgow Pact achieved the UK Presidency’s aim of keeping  1.5ºC alive and reflects the climax of two years of fervent diplomacy and ambition raising.

The progress made towards delivering the $100 billion climate finance goal by 2023 is another milestone achievement credited to COP26 he feels is worth mentioning, drawing emphasis on the UK’s focus to drive action on mitigation, adaptation, and finance across the globe.

“2022 is the year of implementation and turning pledges into action as we prepare for COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt,” he said.

In conclusion, while the Glasgow Pact presents a solid foundation for enhanced ambition and action going forward, it is imperative to make clear that it does not yet guarantee a 1.5ºC world. No single document can achieve this; therefore, the big polluting nations must commit to working in solidarity with those countries whose very existence is threatened by their activities – and failure is not an option.

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