By Mathew Onoja
The Minister of Environment, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi, on Thursday said Federal Government is stepping up action while at the same time unveiling the road map in the pursuit of zero carbon emission before 2060.
He reiterated that climate change poses serious threats to nature and our existence, adding that naturally occurring emergencies have exacerbated the impact of this global phenomenon in recent years.
The Minister spoke at the 16 National Council on Environment (NCE) with the theme: Pursuit of Zero Emission: “A Trajectory Towards Global Environment Renaissance” in Abuja, said the environment is threatened by the debilitating effects of climate change.
“The impact of global warming caused by deforestation, desertification, biodiversity loss, climate change, COVID-19 pandemic and other environmental and social factors have left their negative tolls on both the terrestrial and aquatic systems, with dire consequences on our planet and humans.
“We are therefore persuaded by the reality of the imperatives to pursue a low carbon emission trajectory as an indispensable option to preserve the health of the planet as we journey to net zero emission.
“Nigeria’s forest ecosystems exist within a context in which the ripple effects of population and economic growth in the country drive the rapid and massive depletion of forests at an annual rate that is estimated to be in the range of 0.72% – 2.38%.” He said.
Abdullahi, explained that the forest sector’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions stem mainly from deforestation and forest degradation from land use conversion and the key drivers are small scale and commercial agricultural expansion, heavy reliance on wood fuel particularly firewood and charcoal, unsustainable timber extraction, urban expansion, grazing, bush burning, large infrastructure development and mining.
He, said it is heartwarming that President Muhammadu Buhari, joined the other World leaders in endorsing the Glasgow declaration on forest and land use committing to working collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation.
The Minister said: “We strongly believe in strengthening our shared efforts to conserve forests and other terrestrial ecosystems and accelerate their restoration, facilitate trade and development policies, internationally and domestically, that promote sustainable development, and sustainable commodity production and consumption, that work to countries’ mutual benefit, and that do not drive deforestation and land degradation, reduce vulnerability, build resilience and enhance rural livelihoods, including through empowering communities, the development of profitable, sustainable agriculture, and recognition of the multiple values of forests, while recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as local communities, in accordance with relevant national legislation and international instruments, as appropriate.
“Nigeria also signed the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter which will be implemented through the 5 thematic areas: Climate Resilient Agriculture for Food Security, Soil and Water Conservation and Management, Sustainable Green Cover and Biodiversity, Carbon Neutral and Climate Resilient Livestock Rearing and Animal Husbandry and (v) Indigenous People and Resilient Development.
“At the last CHOGM in Kigali, Rwanda, the Commonwealth Secretariat is proposing to adopt a country-driven approach in the design and development of the plan under a 5×5 approach guided by the three (3) Rio Conventions – UNFCCC (Nationally Determined Contributions), UNCCD (Land Degradation Neutrality Targets) and UNCBD (Aichi Targets).”
He added that the Ministry will leverage strong partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure implementation and, if necessary, redesigning of agricultural policies and programmes to incentivize sustainable and climate-smart agriculture, promote food security, and benefit the environment.
He expressed optimism that government’s ambitious efforts towards zero emission are on course, adding: “We are promoting and embarking on climate-positive and nature-positive investments to enhance adaptive capacity and build resilience of the ecosystems while improving the livelihoods of the local communities and indigenous people.
He said: “With funding from the annual appropriation, sovereign green bond, private sector, more than 20 million hectares of land have been planted up by the Ministry under the national afforestation/reforestation programme targeting degraded forest reserves, degraded landscapes and vulnerable ecosystems across all the ecological zones of the country.
“While more than 24,000 hectares of degraded lands and erosion sites have been reclaimed or mitigated with the support of development partners.
“In the area of climate change adaptation, a National Adaptation Communication (ADCOM) document, which provides a mechanism for Nigeria to report “priorities, implementation and support needs, plans and actions has been developed in addition to a national adaptation plan framework to help with adaptation planning and governance.
“Giant strides have been recorded in the strengthening of the policy and legal framework. The key milestone being the signing into law by President Buhari in November, 2021, the Climate Change Act.
“The Act will go a long way in catalysing the realization of the country’s climate ambitions and commitments including contribution to zero emission.
The Minister explained that as part of efforts to ensure that the country meets its target of attaining net zero by 2060, the Act provides for the phenomenon of carbon budgeting which will be set in a 5 -yearly cycle with annual targets assigned to private and public entities, with the Council imbued with the powers to monitor and ensure that set budgets and targets are met as at when due, stressing that the President appointed the pioneer Director General (DG) of the National Climate Change Council.
“Amongst these solutions is the establishment of the UN-backed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) registry. The REDD+ programme which is currently being run under the department of forestry.
“Further, Nigeria has developed an Energy Transition Plan (ETP) which shows a detailed roadmap for Nigeria to achieve both SDG 7 by 2030 and Net Zero by 2060.
“This roadmap highlights the scale of the effort required for a developing nation to achieve net zero including the scale of financing, renewables to be deployed and the importance of transition fuels.
“To meet our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target and fast track our low carbon development pledges to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Nigerian Sovereign Green Bond was issued in line with our Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP). These green bonds are used in financing environmentally friendly projects through debts tied to sustainability targets.”
On actions that government has taken he recalled that in December 2021, Federal Government launched the Deep De-carbonization project with the support of the French Development agency (AFD). This project is a national research and capacity development project for the implementation of a deep de-carbonisation pathway program for Nigeria.
Nigeria according to him, has adopted a good number of measures to ensure that it sustainably manages its environment and these include developmental policies on the environment, solid waste management, plastic waste management, biosafety policy, gender and climate change.
Abdullahi, said through the operationalization of the aforementioned policies and programmes, accelerated implementation of the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for restoration of polluted and degraded coast line through the West Africa Coastal Area Management Programme (WACA) is on course.
“Nigeria has continued to partner and support UK Forest, Agricultural and Commodities Trade (FACT) Dialogue, targeted at accelerating Nigeria’s low-carbon transition and maximize emissions reductions.
“Our belief in what the dialogue sets to achieve the sustainability of commodity supply chains and promote trade, necessitated President Buhari’s endorsement of joint statements by World Leaders at the COP26 world leaders’ summit on forest and land use.
“The Ministry is partnering with the World Bank to establish the ACRESAL programme to recover and remediate drylands and wetlands in semi-arid areas of the Northern Nigeria.
“The increase in national parks to deepen Nigeria’s efforts in biodiversity conservation;
Hydrocarbon and Pollution Remediation Project to address the issue of hydrocarbon and other pollution emanating from oil and gas exploration in the Ogoni area in accordance with the UNEP guidelines. The Federal Ministry of Environment in conjunction with UNEP embarked on structural re-organisation of HYPREP to make it more effective in delivering on its mandates.
“We also commenced discussion on the establishment of National Institute of Environmental Studies with Prevention from Prof. Sambo Abubakar.
“Finally, Nigeria assumed the leadership of the Pan African Great Green Wall (PAGGW) with the election of President Buhari as the President of the Conference of Heads of States and Governments for a two-year term. A corollary to this, is my assumption of the Chairmanship of the Council of Ministers of Member States.” The Minister said.
President Buhari, he said is driving the funding initiative under the GGW Accelerator to fund each country’s priorities, which is closely aligned to the objectives of the PAGGW is the need for a robust tree planting campaign which the President launched on the sidelines of the PAGGW Council of Ministers Meeting on 16th June, 2022.
He said: “Accordingly, states are encouraged to drive their tree planting campaign so that, collectively we can meet the 25 million trees target by 2023. There is no better time to reset our relation with nature than now. The entire world is being confronted with such enormous challenges that can be best described as unprecedented.
“The need for urgent collective step-up action by everyone irrespective of social status, religion, political leaning for drastic restoration of our God-given natural ecosystem is crucial.
“While as Government, we will not fail to provide every necessary support required to ensure a successful journey to zero emission while we all live in harmony with nature with brighter hope of sustainable development.
In a remark, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Mohammed Musa Bello, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Olusola Olasade, said
FCTDA will continue to plant trees and encourage residents to do same across the Territory, however, its long-term strategy is the use of electric vehicles for public transportation.
While also contributing, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative in Nigeria Mr. Fred Rafeero represented by Abubakar Suleiman, Assistance FAO representative: (Programme), said the theme, the “Pursuit of Zero Emission – A new trajectory towards Global Environment Renaissance” is a call for action to achieving net-zero GHG emission and energy transition for Nigeria.
Rafeero, said: “I want to use this occasion, therefore to congratulate the Federal Ministry of Environment for the signing into law of the Climate Change Act by the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari. The Climate Change Act has come at an opportune time and will be necessary for the attainment of the county’s commitment to achieving environmental sustainability goals.
“The vision of Federal Government aligns with FAO global efforts in supporting its member countries in their efforts to climate change adaptation and mitigation, working towards climate-resilient and low-emission agri-food systems.
“FAO as part of its mandate is presently supporting the Ministry in mobilizing resources from the Global Climate Finance (GCF) institutions, Global environment Facility (GEF), the Adaptation Funds and UK PACT programme) to support implementation of the Nigeria nationally determined contributions.
“FAO Nigeria through its programmes and projects has been able to support in strengthening capacities of government counterparts to better respond to climate change challenges including the ability to generate, collect, analyse and utilize data and information for climate action; better access to financial resources for climate change adaptation and mitigation; adoption of good practices and innovative solutions to climate resilience, adaptation and mitigation; mainstreaming of climate change considerations in national and subnational policies and strategies
The Country Representative and Regional Director, Dr. Jean Bakale, represented by Mr. Osuji, adding his voice, underscored that net zero emissions status has become the new ambition of every developed, developing and forward-thinking country in the world.
He said: “Today, sea levels are rising with frequent flooding that is destroying lives and properties worth several millions of dollars, global temperature is rising and wildfires are rampant, food security is greatly affected as farmers are increasingly finding it difficult to predict planting seasons, insecurity is on the increase, affecting food production (e.g in Lake Chad region), and threatening livelihoods of rural communities.
“Climate change and the unimaginable are beginning to happen. With all these and more, the solution is to decarbonize and drastically reduce greenhouse gas generation.
“Two questions that must be asked are: Is the country willing to do this and if yes does the country know how to go about achieving it.”
Nigeria, according to him, is the largest economy in Africa, it has the highest population with an advantage of a high percentage of youths. Nigeria does not lack capacity neither does it lack ideas. Nigeria has come up with its National, Determined Contributions and identified six sectors for action. Some of the approaches to achieving a net zero status are:
Developing and enforcing policies, regulatory and institutional frameworks, promoting clean technologies right from start-ups, circular economy, renewable energies, experience and knowledge sharing of best practices with other countries, signatory and membership of Multilateral Environment Agreements/Conventions/Treaties and its various working groups, fostering effective and robust partnerships, Robust and effective environmental management advocacy, he said.
He said, UNIDO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) which promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialization in developing countries and economies in transition, adding that UN agency’s activities are tailored towards developing industrial policies that are resource-efficient as well as protective of the natural environment and human health.
He added that UNIDO, is presently implementing the Nigeria Country Programme which runs from 2018 to 2022 and environmental management is a standalone and important component of this Country Programme.
Based on the request from Federal Government, the ountry programme will be converted into a partnership by January 2023.
“UNIDO is well positioned to support member states in identifying and addressing emerging environmental issues.
“Therefore, UNIDO will continue to provide technical support to Nigeria on achieving a net zero status through the promotion of: clean technology, renewable energies like small hydro power, circular economy and waste management, policy and regulatory framework development, energy efficiency, resource efficiency and cleaner production.
“For us at UNIDO, we recommit to supporting Nigeria in promoting inclusive sustainable industrial development and achieving a green and sustainable national development.”