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Friday, August 19, 2022

64 civil society leaders sign petition, urge govt to implement climate law

A coalition of civil society organisations on environment and climate change has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately implement the Climate Change Act signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari since November 2021.

Buhari COP26
President Muhammadu Buhari at COP26 in Glasgow

The group, in a petition signed by 64 CSO and NGO leaders and submitted to the relevant government agencies, expressed dismay over the delay by the government in implementing the core provisions of the Act which, according to them, would set the country on the right trajectory in meeting the 2060 net zero target.

According to the coalition, “we are gravely worried that after eight months of signing the Climate Change Act into law, no action has been taken to implement the different provisions of the Act”.

The coalition, however, thanked the President for showing commitment to providing a solid framework for climate action to achieve Nigeria’s short-, medium-, and long-term goals on climate mitigation and adaptation through the signing of the bill into a full Act.

“We, the undersigned civil society organisations and individuals appreciate and commend the President for signing into law the Climate Change Act which has demonstrated his commitment to providing a solid framework for climate action to achieve Nigeria’s short-, medium-, and long-term goals on climate mitigation and adaptation,” the coalition submitted.

It reminded the government that the continuous delay in implementation, especially when some core provisions of the Act are time-bound, would stall the progress the country had made in tackling effects of climate change and all the policies developed to mitigate climate change in Nigeria and across the globe.

The group went further: “We wish to alert Mr President that the government is now almost certain to default on some of the provisions of the Climate Act. The signing of the Act into law automatically triggered Section 19(2) of the Act which mandates that the Federal Ministry of Environment in consultation with the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning must present the pilot carbon budget to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) through the National Council on Climate Change not later than one year from the date of assent to the Bill. That, automatically, means that the pilot carbon budget must be presented on or before November 16, 2022.

“The Federal Ministry of Environment and the Secretariat are also mandated by Section 20 to develop the five-yearly Action Plan for the realisation of the carbon budget. Section 20(2) mandates that the first Action Plan must be ready within one year of assent to the Bill. It is important to note that Section 20(3) mandates that, before the Action Plan is presented to the Council and FEC, it must be made public for eight weeks (culminating 14 days before the date of presentation to the Council) for the public to review.

“Given the long and thorough process needed to decide a carbon budget including through national consultation with the CSO and other stakeholders, we are concerned that the Federal government may fail to set a carbon budget by the date required by the new climate law.

“It seems that the government and its relevant agencies and ministries have abandoned the implementation of the key provisions of the Act. We are worried at the lack of action by the Federal government to implement a law it signed in good faith.”

The coalition warned that the attitude of the government so far in implementing the Climate Change Act will further damage the image of the country in the international arena and more so in climate change community and called on the government to act fast to save the government and the country from impending embarrassment as the COP27 to be hosted in Africa, Egypt is fast approaching.

“This unfortunate event carries the risk of portraying Nigeria as unserious before the international community and a country that makes a pledge without an intention to keep its words.

“A lack of implementation of the climate act will surely damage the image of the country at the global arena, especially as the build up to COP27 in Africa has commenced.

“By maintaining aloof and not acting quickly to implement the Climate Change Act, other countries will make mockery of Nigeria and some may begin to review or withdraw their climate support for Nigeria.

“In these days of climate change struggle, the Nigerian government and relevant ministries and agencies are more than ever needed to act to save our country from the further devastations of climate change. A stitch in time saves nine,” added the group.

During a recent virtual workshop for CSOs and NGOs leaders titled “Understanding and Implementation of Nigeria’s Climate Change Act: Implications for Nigeria’s Net Zero Target” organised by the Society for Planet Prosperity in collaboration with the Centre for Climate Change and Development Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike (CCCD AEFUNAI) and Global Environmental and Climate Conservation Initiative (GECCI), the CSO leaders advocated for the immediate implementation of the Climate Change Act by the government to save the country from further consequences of climate change.

By Chinedu Jude Nwasum

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