Preparatory to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) that will hold in Paris between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11, 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reiterated the need for an urgent global response to climate change.
“Why do I care so much about this issue? First, like any grandfather, I want my grandchildren to enjoy the beauty and bounty of a healthy planet.
“And, like any human being, it grieves me to see that floods, droughts and fires are getting worse, that island nations will disappear, and uncounted species will become extinct.
“Second, as the head of the United Nations, I have prioritised climate change because no country can meet this challenge alone. Climate change carries no passport; emissions released anywhere contribute to the problem everywhere. It is a threat to lives and livelihoods everywhere. Economic stability and the security of nations are under threat.
“Only through the United Nations can we respond collectively to this quintessentially global issue. The negotiation process has been slow and cumbersome. But we are seeing results. In response to the UN’s call, more than 166 countries, which collectively account for more than 90 per cent of emissions, have now submitted national climate plans with targets.
“If successfully implemented, these national plans bend the emissions curve down to a projected global temperature rise of approximately three degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
“At the same time, we must support countries to adapt to the inevitable consequences that are already upon us. The sooner we act the greater the benefits for all: increased stability and security; stronger, more sustainable economic growth; enhanced resilience to shocks; cleaner air and water and improved health.
“The climate change conference in Paris is not the end point. The responsibility now rests with governments to conclude a meaningful, binding agreement in Paris that provides clear rules of the road for strengthening global ambition,’’ he said in a statement.
Ban also said a meaningful climate agreement in Paris would build a better synergy to end poverty, improve public health, create new jobs and encourage green innovations.
In view of Ban’s directive, stakeholders in Nigeria have expressed optimism that the conference will provide an avenue for the country to interact with multilateral organisations on climate change.
They observe that in an efforts to put up a brilliant performance at the conference, the Federal Government started early preparations to mobilise support from development partners and donors since February.
Mrs Nana Mede, the immediate past Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, said that she had a strong belief that Nigeria would represent Africa competently at the conference.
She urged Nigeria to submit a robust national climate action plans known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which should state a clear-cut pathway to reduce emissions from greenhouse gases.
Mede also urged the negotiators to give their best at the conference in view of the impacts of climate change on both human and natural resources.
She noted that such impacts manifested through increased frequency of extreme weather events such as flooding, droughts, desertification and increased sea temperature, among others.
The former permanent secretary recalled that in 1992, the UN member states established the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
She, however, observed that the UNFCCC and the subsequent Kyoto Protocol in 1997 could not provide enough solution to the challenge of climate change.
“Therefore, during the COP 19 in Warsaw, parties adopted a decision to prepare and submit fresh Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris COP 21,’’ she said.
Corroborating her view, Dr Samuel Adejuwon, Director, Climate Change, Federal Ministry of Environment, said that INDCs is a document required to be submitted by all parties to the UNFCCC at the Paris conference.
According to him, countries signatory to the UNFCCC will negotiate a global climate agreement for the post-2020 period that will be adopted at the conference.
He noted that the submission of the document was a major component of the climate change treaty likely to be adopted at COP 21.
In view of this, the Federal Government, in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), engaged the services of international consultants in June to work with national consultants and produce credible INDCs.
At the stakeholders’ consultative meeting with the consultants in Abuja, the UNDP urged Nigeria to come up with robust INDCs that would address climate change impact on the country.
Mr Muyiwa Odele, Team Leader, UNDP Environment Unit, who represented UNDP Country Director, Dr Pa-Lamin Beyai, emphasised the need for Nigeria to meet up with its climate change commitments.
“This process of developing INDCs is extremely important for Nigeria, because of the leadership role that Nigeria plays in the area of climate change negotiations in Africa. If Nigeria is serious about taking forward the climate change agenda, it is important that the INDCs be developed in a very robust manner,’’ he said.
However, some stakeholders suggested that the INDCs should set realistic and achievable targets to reduce the greenhouse gases.
They also suggested setting clear targets in some areas such as renewable energy and agricultural projects as mitigation measures.
Prof. Daniel Gwary, a negotiator at COP, said as Nigeria prepared for COP 21, it should announce its preparedness to reduce emissions in line with other countries. “As the most populous country in Africa, I think Mr President wants Nigeria to be at the forefront not in the crowd. So, we must come up with an action plan and we must protect our economy,’’ he said.
Gwary said agriculture was a very important aspect of the country’s economy that had to do with emission of carbon.
According to him, agriculture has to do with emissions in the areas of soil management and livestock production. “If Nigeria is thinking about making commitment to reduce emissions, then the country has to look inwards into the agriculture sector. We can cut down our emissions in that sector by improving on agricultural practices in livestock and crop production.
“Apart from the agriculture sector, we need to also cut down our emissions in power, transport, petroleum, solid minerals and manufacturing sectors,’’ he said.
Gwary, nonetheless, supported the views of some international consultants that suggested 50 per cent reduction of the emissions for Nigeria by 2030.
“It is attainable if key players and Nigerians support the present administration to make things to work to improve agriculture, power and transport sectors and also support good governance.
“For example, it is the political will that government needs to cut down gas flaring,’’ he said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Bab Atayi, an environmentalist, said that the Nigeria should give itself a target of 50 per cent emission reduction.
“Many countries have targeted 30 per cent reduction of greenhouse gases in their INDCs; specifically, Kenya and Ethiopia, Nigeria should go above 30 per cent, he said.
But Mr Lawal Gada, a consultant on environment and energy disagreed, insisting that Nigeria should set a target of 30 per cent on renewable energy by 2030.
Irrespective of any set target, Mr Lekan Fadina a negotiator at COP, expressed optimism that Nigeria could achieve its target if it had the will to make it happen.
He, however, raised concerns over the cost of implementing the target of 50 per cent emission reduction, advising Nigeria to put a cost on implementing the INDCs.
“For example, Kenya, which targets 30 per cent emission reduction, said it would cost 40 million dollars to implement its INDCs and the country is not going to solicit for foreign funds.
“So, how prepared is Nigeria to implement the document, how much of sustainable projects are we going to focus on while implementing the INDCs?
“Also, how is the country ready to access the Green Climate Fund? There are climate funds available globally that can be accessed to implement some of our climate change activities,’’ he observed.
“We have prepared the INDCs and we have done our part at the technical level, when you are preparing a document that has financial implication and have some developmental implication, you must let government buy in into what you are doing.
“We have asked the stakeholders to look at it with little considerations of key members of Inter-ministerial Committee on Climate Change and make adequate recommendations to Mr President.
“It is only then that we can submit our INDCs, there is nothing binding about the day of submission; what is important is that we submit and we should be able to submit before the conference,’’ he said.
In his view, Dr Victor Fodeke, a consultant with African Development Bank, said making logistics arrangement for the negotiators was as good as building their capacity.
“South Africa and U.S. always make accommodation for their negotiators a head of time so that they can settle and face the task assigned to them squarely.
“This negotiation is a tricky thing. People who you are negotiating with you know when you are weak around the middle of the night and they may take critical decisions that time.
“Training is okay but they need to know the strength and weakness of people we are negotiating with. In negotiation, you get only what you negotiate not what you deserve.
“Africa emission is less than two per cent, the implication of climate change is going to be worse on Africa and if we go on with sentiments, we will never win,’’ he warned.
Fodeke advised negotiators to be familiar with the articles of Climate Change Conventions for them to be able to negotiate Nigeria’s position at the conference.
“You get only what you negotiate; you cannot perform very well unless you acquire the skills, information and strength to do so as to ensure safe climate for Nigeria and Africa.’’
“We should be careful so that we do not go and take commitment that will take about 70 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product while people are hungry,’’ he said.
By and large, climate change experts opine that with the measures taken by the Federal Government to prepare the INDCs, the document will be among the best, noting that if the negotiators can focus on the identified issues, Nigeria will shine at the conference.