From 6th to 18th November, world leaders will gather at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre (SHICC), Egypt, for COP27, the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference; to further continue the conversation on how the world can keep the goal of 1.5℃ alive and avoid the worst effects of climate change.
COP is the decision-making body responsible for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, whose objective is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” While preparations are in top gear for COP27, it is imperative to review what has happened in Nigeria since COP26, especially after the popular commitment of the Nigerian government to cut its carbon emission to net zero by 2060.
While speaking at COP26 in Glasgow, the UK in November 2021, President Buhari said he did not think any Nigerian needs to be convinced that climate change is not about the problem of the future but about what is already facing the country. “Desertification in the north, drought in the center, pollution in the coast are enough evidence for all to see, that Nigeria is committed to net zero by 2060,” he said.
Since that historic speech, this article reviews the activities that have happened in Nigeria’s climate change space so as to understand the conversation that Nigeria as a country will take to this year’s COP in Egypt.
1. Nigeria signs climate change bill into law
A week after Mr. Buhari’s Glasgow commitment, he signed the Climate Change bill into law.
According to reports, the Climate Change Act owes its origin to a bill sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives, Sam Onuigbo, and provides for, among other things, the mainstreaming of climate change actions and the establishment of a National Council on Climate Change. The Act also paves the way for environmental and economic accounting and a push for a net zero emission deadline plan in the country. Experts agreed that the passage of the law was a step in the right direction for the country following the president’s important declaration at the climate change conference.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, said the country has made a strong statement to the world by having the law.
Chukwumerije Okereke, the director of the Center of Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Nigeria, and head of the Technical Committee that revised the Climate Change Bill said in an article published shortly after the passage of the law that: “The new climate change law sends a strong positive message to the world that Nigeria understands the enormity and urgency of the climate change challenge and is serious to implement the net-zero carbon pledge made by President Buhari at COP26 in Glasgow.”
Overview of the Climate Change law
According to the climate change law, a National Council on Climate Change was to be established and will be headed by the President and include relevant ministers, the National Security Adviser, and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The Act provides for a representation of civil societies with spaces reserved for women, youth, persons with disabilities, and the private sector. Experts believe that with the Council, Nigeria’s environment ministry will be assisted in its goal of setting a national platform for the mobilization and disbursement of trillions of climate investments needed to scale up and accelerate the green transition efforts in Nigeria. The Nigerian government must also establish a five-year carbon budget as part of a National Climate Change Action Plan that the Federal Executive Council must approve. This is in order to accelerate efforts to attain net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction between 2050 and 2070.
2. Appointment of pioneer DG of Nigeria’s Climate Change Council
In July 2022, about eight months after the passage of Nigeria’s Climate Change Act, President Buhari appointed Salisu Dahiru as the pioneer director-general (DG) and chief executive officer (CEO) of the national council on climate change. The appointment is central to Nigeria’s agenda to achieve net zero emissions by 2060. It is expected that the new DG will drive the implementation of the climate change law and the national climate change action plan, including the development of a carbon market framework and a national adaptation plan. The aspirations expressed in the nationally determined contributions are expected to be reflected in these implementations by the council
3. Launch of Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan
While making his COP26 commitment, President Buhari made reference to a data-backed document that informed the nation’s net zero emissions commitment by 2060. “Nigeria has developed a detailed energy transition plan and roadmap based on data and evidence, our transition plan also highlights the key role that gas will play in transitioning our economy across sectors and the data and evidence show Nigeria can continue to use gas until 2040 without detracting from the goals of the Paris agreement,” the president said.
In March 2022, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, made a public statement in Nairobi, Kenya that the federal government has developed an energy transition plan as a pathway to achieving net zero by 2060. The minister made the statement at the Fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA5.2) in Nairobi, Kenya with the theme: “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals.” She reaffirmed Nigeria’s adoption of various strategic approaches during the event. These included the creation and implementation of the National Forest Policy, which aims to promote sustainable forest management practices; national policies on plastic waste management and solid waste management, which support and promote the circular economy; the drought and desertification policy, which aims to actualize land degradation neutrality and boost community resilience; and others. The energy transition plan has been fully approved by the federal government and an Energy Transition Implementation working group (ETWG) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, comprising several key ministers and supported by an Energy Transition Office (ETO) has been established.
On Wednesday, 24th August, Nigeria launched the Energy Transition Plan (ETP) – a home-grown, data-backed, multipronged strategy developed for the achievement of net-zero emissions in terms of the nation’s energy consumption. The Nigeria ETP sets out a timeline and framework for the attainment of emissions reduction across five key sectors; Power, Cooking, Oil and Gas, Transport, and Industry. At the launch of the ETP, the head of the Energy Transition Implementation working group (ETWG), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said the launch of the plan is an important decision by the government as the problem of energy poverty is as important as Nigeria’s climate ambitions. “Energy use is crucial for almost every conceivable aspect of development. Africa with about 17 percent of the world’s population only generates 4 percent of the world’s electricity,” he said. The vice president said with evidence of energy poverty in Africa, it is important to design solutions that will tackle the dual crises of energy poverty and climate change and deliver SDG7 by 2030 and net-zero by 2060 while centering on the provision of energy for development, industrialization, and economic growth. “There is a clear need for African nations to engage more critically and vocally in conversations on our global climate future. We need to take ownership of our transition pathways and design climate-sensitive strategies that address our growth objectives,” he said. With the launch of Nigeria’s ETP Wednesday, a lot of action is required to ensure effective implementation and with the huge resources needed to achieve full implementation, Nigeria needs to develop effective fundraising and investment strategy if its huge climate ambitions are to be achieved. This should be the core of its agenda as it heads to Egypt in November 2022 for COP27.