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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Why emissions estimate should be basis for Nigeria’s climate policy

In the sidelines of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory Quality Assurance Workshop that held recently in Abuja and Lagos, William Agyemang-Bonsu, Manager, Mitigation and Transparency Support (Mitigation, Data and Analysis) at the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, says emissions estimate should be the basis for which Nigeria decides what climate policies are appropriate

William Agyemang-Bonsu
William Agyemang-Bonsu, Manager, Mitigation and Transparency Support (Mitigation, Data and Analysis) at the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat

We are holding this training to assist Nigeria to be able to prepare qualitative and robust greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. If our goal is only to produce the numbers, the emission estimates and that’s the end of it, then we have not been helpful to Nigeria, or the expertise in Nigeria has not been utilised to the maximum.

And therefore, we want to see where the sources of emissions are and how averagely they are estimated. And this depends on several factors, the latest that is used for estimation and the activity data that goes into estimating the emissions as well as the choice of emission factor, and all these together and now for these sectors we have emission estimates in the sector.

The industries in Nigeria wil have their own categorisation in terms of how much emission is coming from that sub-sector of industry. If you go to cement production, you have a similar type of emissions happening over there. If you go to energy, power production, you also have some emissions there. Various sectors have their sources of emissions and these emissions must be estimated.

Waste sector – management or wastewater treatment plat – all these facilities potentially have emissions that are GHG emissions, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane or nitrous oxide. And the discussions we’ve been having is that we want to ensure that these estimates are of the highest quality possible and you are using the approved methodology which is the IPCC 2006 Guidelines.

If I may retract a bit, that during the emission estimate, if our goal as Nigeria is only to get these numbers and report to the Climate Change Secretariat that this is where Nigeria’s emissions are, then we have failed the country. I’m repeating that because it’s very important. This is because the emission estimate should be the basis for which Nigeria will decide what climate policy in terms of emission reduction policy are appropriate to be put in place in the country.

Going beyond even the policy development, for me what is critical is that it becomes the basis of very many development interventions in various sectors. For example, if you look at Ikeja in Lagos, you see clearly that there is traffic congestion problem, and because we have those volumes of traffic, we would have high levels of GHG emissions especially CO2. So, what Nigeria, especially the municipality of Ikeja or the state of Lagos, could be doing would be to look at how to develop infrastructure such that congestion can be reduced.

But in doing that, the benefit of that intervention is that it would reduce not only GHG, but also particulate matter or emissions which normally would have implications for human health in the urban centre. So, even though we set out to do a climate intervention which was reducing congestion to reduce GHG emissions, we would have development benefit, health impact is reduced.

And I’m saying again and again that should be what drives us as Nigerians to do climate policy and interventions; take climate actions. We need to do that because its of development benefit. The other benefits that will arise as a result of the interventions in GHG emissions. And I would encourage you to look at those reductions as rather the co-benefit – benefit resulting as a result of development. So, that should be the goal, and that’s what we are trying to understand how these emissions are properly estimated already informs policy making.

So, it’s a more scientific technical work, but the goal is not only to do the technical work and let it rest there, the goal is to bring up the policy and inform development. There are several areas where we can do climate interventions, but what comes out of it is more of development benefits, and that’s what I will encourage that we do to help our development in the country.

Another point fundamentally linked with GHG emission inventory which is for the future is to look at over the years, working with other stakeholders at the national level, including all the MDAs, private sector, research, academia and NGOs, how we can base the work being done, make this national system for GHG inventory an important foundation for measurement reporting and verification. But at the same time, lay a foundation for potential future work.

Nigeria is one of the biggest economies in Africa with a large skill base and when able to lay this good foundation of inventory across sectors, the goal is to help Nigeria into the future to develop what we call an Emissions Trading Scheme. This is something a little bit into the future and will only happen this foundation works. That’s why the robustness of the estimates is critical.

Once we can estimate the GHGs, attributing the emissions to specific sources within the country, we can have a scheme as is being done in other countries, including some developing countries such as Korea and China. Because of the size of the economy in Nigeria, we can start to do that. This is the foundation.

Because you know where they came from, you can allocate actions to reduce emissions to these various sources where they are coming from. And the beauty of it is that it gets to a stage where a lot of these actions would not be driven by government, but by either the private sector or other entities that are interested in contributing to addressing those emission reductions.

Additionally, what happens is that Nigeria under the Paris Agreement has committed to do some voluntary reductions. And what the Paris Agreement requires is that Parties under the Agreement over time will increase their mitigation ambition. So, if you have laid this foundation when you know all the sources and are adequately estimated and you have other actors beyond government contributing to these reductions, Nigeria can confidently stand up before the international community and tell them: “We can do 50% reduction by 2030 because we know that other partners out there will be able to do some reductions on their own, in addition to what the government can do.”

And you can only make that proclamation that we will do 50% reduction when you know where you are. You must know where you are – in terms of accurate emission sources – and you will be able to say: “I will reduce that where I am to that level and compare that level to where I was, and the reduction is 50%.” So, its not mere saying do this and that; no. Yo have to know where you are in terms of emissions and therefore you can say: “Based on our experience, the contributions we have had from the private sector, philanthropies, donors as well as our own contributions as government, we are able to do the 50% reductions.”

This is critical and should not only be driven by the Department of Climate Change because it has implications for the whole economy and therefore all hands should be on deck. There should be research and academia bringing in their expertise; there should be other private sector entities, NGOs, municipalities, various MDAs participating in that.

So, we have a core group that we’ve started working with, trying to explain some of these methodologies and discussing looking at what they have done so far and the areas they can improve and discussing the improvements, we are looking at within the time span of now and into the future which activities can be done in terms of improvement immediately, in to the medium term and which can we look at in the long term.

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