By Okeoghene Akubuike
It is five years after the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was adopted by 196 parties (countries) at the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris of which Nigeria is a signatory.
Since then, there have been calls by state and non- state actors for Nigeria to undertake more ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.
According to the United Nations Climate Change publication of 2020, the COP is the supreme decision making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
All states that are parties to the Convention are represented at the COP.
A key task for the COP is to review the national communications and emission inventories submitted by parties.
Based on this information, the COP assesses the effects of the measures taken by parties and the progress made in achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention.
According to the UN publication, the Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change.
As earlier stated, it was adopted by 196 parties at COP21 in Paris, on Dec. 12, 2015 but entered into force on Nov. 4, 2016.
The goal of the agreement is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Paris Agreement works on a five – year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action carried out by countries.
By the end of 2020, countries are expected to have submitted their plans for climate action known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
In their NDCs, countries communicate actions they will take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Countries also communicate in the NDCs actions they will take to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.
Though some efforts have been made by the Federal Government of Nigeria, in her NDCs, through the Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with non-state actors; calls have been made for more ambitious action.
Prof. Nasiru Idris, Dean, Faculty of Environmental Science, Nasarawa State University, says that since the Paris Agreement in 2015, there have been quite a number of efforts on the side of the Nigerian Government.
Idris said the country submitted its NDCs to the UNFCCC on May 15, 2017 while its Biennial Update Report was also submitted on March 17, 2018 while Nigeria’s Third National Communication on climate change is in progress.
According to him, the creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information.
Idris notes that studies and information can then be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, as well as project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change.
He says the Nigerian government has also made significant effort in the area of National Circumstances, National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Mitigation Assessment, Vulnerability and Adaptation, among others.
The don underscores the need to strengthen Nigeria’s institutional capacities to develop long – term climate – resilient development strategies across sectors.
He says having access to pertinent data, information and decision making tools will be critical to reduce the potential damages from climate change.
At a recent event to mark the 5th Anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said the Federal Government was providing policies and initiatives aimed at implementing the agreement to address climate change and other environmental issues in the country.
Abubakar said these policies and initiatives included financing green projects across the nation in various sectors of the economy.
He added that the government was also engaging in afforestation programmes aimed at establishment of forests and planting of trees in order to avoid degradation of land.
According to the minister, in achieving the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), the government is collaborating with relevant stakeholders and the government of France for more effective implementation of the programmes.
Hajiya Halima Bawa-Bwari, Acting Director, Department of Climate Change in the ministry, said during the Post COP25 National Consultative Workshop recently held in Abuja, that the Ministry was already engaging various stakeholders, including MDAs, state and non-state actors as well as development partners.
Bawa – Bwari said that the Ministry had also established climate change desks in all the states and the FCT, in partnership with development partners.
“We need to know what the people at the local levels are doing to ensure climate resilience. So we have given the desk officers a template to feed in mitigation actions happening in all the states.
“The department also engages through regular sensitisation programmes, which include trainings and workshops in the six geo – political zones as well as engaging with the private and public sectors to raise awareness on climate change and the NDCs,” she said.
Bawa-Bwari said the national policy on climate change and NDCs were being reviewed, adding that a sectoral plan for its implementation had been developed.
Non – state actors such as civil society organisations (CSOs) have also not been resting on their oars as they continue to engage state actors in ensuring Nigeria implements policies aimed at achieving the Paris Agreement.
Dr Ibrahim Choji, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Climate Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet) says more than ever, ambitious action is urgently needed to address the global climate crisis and keep global temperature increases in check.
According to Choji, five years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, 2020 is a key milestone for countries to enhance their NDCs to the Paris Agreement.
He says they can do this by going beyond current national climate plans and bringing the planet closer to the climate treaty’s goals of de-carbonising economies and improving resilience.
Choji gave a summary of what the Nigerian Civil Society has been able to achieve so far within five years of the adoption of the Paris Agreement.
“We have succeeded in establishing the platform and mechanism for monitoring and evaluating NDCs implementation in Nigeria, enhance mitigation and adaptation components of the NDCs, as well as communicating the NDCs.
“Additionally, aligning Nigeria’s NDCs with SDGs and the role of finance and multi-stakeholder such as policy makers, academics, media, civil society and community-based organisation and the private sector.
“Also, collaboration in NDCs enhancement and achievement are veritable and vital pointers to the way forward,” he said.
Choji says that to facilitate a climate – resilient and sustainable Nigeria, CSDevNet is successfully implementing varieties of projects with the support of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, through Swedish International Development Agency.
He says the projects are aimed at deepening Nigerian civil society’s engagement in post-Paris climate change dialogue and response strategies.
Choji notes that the dialogue and strategies traverse direct programming and research, policy and advocacy, sub-granting and capacity building, but mainly focus on the most vulnerable groups that are unreachable in traditional development paradigms.
“Furthermore, the project engenders and strengthens the involvement of the civil society in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and the SDGs.
“This is via effective monitoring and evaluation of Nigeria’s NDCs and creating linkage with governments and the Environment Directorate of the Economic Community of West African states,” he said.
Choji says that joint studies have been developed, produced and disseminated with research institutes to influence national, sub-regional and regional policies, plans and programmes by evidence-based CSOs narratives, policy analyses and advice.
“We have carried out joint study with the Federal University of Petroleum, Effurun to examine the compliance practice to implementation of the Paris Agreement on reducing greenhouse emission on oil and gas for 2018/2019 in Nigeria.
“Equally, a joint study on analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the Implementation of NDCs in African Countries: A Case Study of eight countries in Africa, with University of Glasgow and the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo Ebonyi State, is currently ongoing,” he announced.
Choji said other projects included its programme aimed at supporting over 20 Nigerian youth, women and marginalised groups known as Young Digital Activitists (YDAs) and Community Resource Persons (CRPs).
He says this is a bottom-up approach and social media led-initiative for youth participation in climate change and SDGs dialogue processes communication.
“Through this programme we were able to give a voice to the vulnerable and those at the grassroot.
“The voice will enable them to positively influence public laws, policies and practices in the context of climate justice, poverty reduction and foster partnership in addressing developmental issues in Nigeria and on the African continent,” Choji said.
He disclosed that CSDevNet/PACJA partnered with its members in the South-South zone.
Choji said this was to scale up nature-based solutions for mitigation, resilience and adaptation through mangrove restoration and planting of trees for combating erosion and land degradation in Cross River estuary.
“We have also strengthened Nigerian CSOs capacity to effectively engage and influence national post-Paris Agreement implementation and response strategies in the context of SDGs through consistently organised national civil society consultative workshops,” he said.
Sean Melbourne, Head of Climate Change and Energy (West Africa), Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office at the British High Commission, Abuja, says the British Government is working closely with Nigeria in reviewing the NDCs to strengthen the country’s climate action commitments.
Melbourne says that the British Government is supporting the innovative solutions and policy frameworks that will deliver low-carbon and climate-resilient growth through several programmes in Nigeria.
It is apparent from the foregoing that the path to fulfilling the Paris Agreement cannot be achieved by government alone.
There is need for increased engagement and collaboration from both state and non – state actors as well as the political will on the part of government at all levels if progress is to be made to effectively address climate change in Nigeria.