Nigeria may have taken yet another vital step towards rounding up its REDD+ Readiness Plan (and graduating to the Implementation Phase) as stakeholders reviewed – in the bid to validate – two separate documents related to forest monitoring and emissions referencing.
Similarly, Cross River State, which is hosting the site of the nation’s flagship UN-REDD Programme project site, announced that Governor Ben Ayade has signed the Carbon Emissions Bill into law.
On Thursday and Friday (September 29-30) last week in Abuja, the federal capital city, stakeholders and technical experts embarked on the final review of draft documents of both the National Forest Monitoring System Action Plan (NFMS AP) and the National Forest Reference Emission Level/Forest Emission Levels (FRELs/FRLs) put together after harmonisation of comments by participants at the NFMS AP and FREL/FRL workshops held in April and May 2016 respectively.
Organised by the Nigeria REDD+ Programme, UN-REDD Programme, Cross River State Government and Federal Ministry of Environment, the forum not only set out to validate and adopt the draft NFMS AP as the operational document for the implementation of NFMS in the country, but also validate and adopt the draft sub-national FREL as the roadmap to benchmark and assess REDD+ implementation in Cross River State.
Essentially, the NFMS AP provides the standard activities that should be carried out to ensure the establishment and implementation of a robust and transparent NFMS, according to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Decision 4/15 on “Methodological guidance to REDD+ Strategy.
The FRELs/FRLs, on the other hand, are important tools for judging the effectiveness or the impact of REDD+ activities and policies on forest carbon emissions in line with the Decision 12/COP.17 of the UNFCCC. It aims to establish a reference point from which actual emissions are compared without which country emissions reductions cannot be demonstrated or proven.
The Cross River State Commissioner for Climate Change & Forestry, Dr Alice Olok Ekwu, disclosed during the forum that the new Carbon Emissions Law empowers the Ministry of Climate Change & Forestry to come up with carbon tax. She added that, when the law becomes fully operational, the ministry would impose taxes on companies, vehicles, and indeed everyone engaged in generating emissions.
She said: “We have a monitoring lab in the ministry that we will use to assess emission levels and determine the level of taxation. Any person or organisation that wants to be assessed must come to us. We are in the best position to carry out this assessment. We will not be able to impose taxes until we are able to determine how to do the assessment. The first thing was to get a law in place, which has been done.”
Recently, two separate validation workshops held in Abuja, and Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State. While the Abuja forum entailed a national authentication of the draft REDD+ document, the Calabar workshop focused essentially on state-related issues, endorsing the Integrated Analyses for the pilot REDD+ programme for Cross River.
Following the corroboration of the study analyses (national framework as well as state), Cross River State will embark on the development of a REDD+ strategy that will both inform the national strategy and serve as model for other states, particularly Ondo and Nassarawa states, which have been named as new programme sites.
The strategy comprises policy reforms, investment priorities, and a related REDD+ implementation framework, with due monitoring and safeguard systems, as called for under the UNFCCC. The strategy also intends to enhance the value of standing forests and to incentivise sustainable forest management through a multi-stakeholder approach and a green development perspective.
REDD+, which stands for Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, is a global initiative designed to pay groups or countries for protecting their forests and reducing emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants, especially carbon dioxide (CO₂).
Created in 2008, the UN-REDD Programme (United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a collaborative programme of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).