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Nigeria’s climate change commitments considering new UN report – Ikeazor

The Report profiles the consequences of the world warming by 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) and how much worse the effects will be. if temperatures rise by 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) or 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F). Every fraction of a degree of warming really matters – whether related to the intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation, the severity of droughts and heat waves, or the loss of ice and snow. Many consequences of climate change will become irreversible overtime, most notably melting ice sheets, rising seas, species loss and more acidic oceans. And the impacts will continue to mount and compound as emissions increase.

Sharon Ikeazor
Environment Minister of State, Sharon Ikeazor

With this Report it becomes apparent that It’s now time for governments, businesses, and investors to step up their action to be commensurate with the scale of the crisis we face. During these last few months ahead of the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow, it is crucial for countries to put forward stronger 2030 emissions-reduction targets and commit to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, if not sooner. These commitments need to be made with the IPCC report’s findings in mind so that we give ourselves a fighting chance for a safer future.

The obligation of the present generation to future generations is to work together urgently to preserve our natural resources before it is too late. The linkages between land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss have been clearly established by all our scientific bodies and it is because of these linkages that protected areas are so vital to our efforts to preserve the planet. Natural ecosystems play a crucial role in the sequestration of carbon dioxide to reduce Greenhouse gases. When human activities degrade or destroy habitats, they jeopardise the role these play in carbon sequestration and can cause affected ecosystems to switch from carbon sinks to carbon sources in just a few years.

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Nigeria is already taking steps to address these environment problems facing our country by designating 10 protected areas, to ensure that our ecosystems are restored and preserved to maximise carbon dioxide capture. Within this protected area, we can implement measures to increase carbon sequestration, when necessary, through active restoration and encouragement of natural regeneration. Protected areas are our key to preserving the carbon sequestration potential of our ecosystems.

National mitigation and adaptation measures are guided by the new National Climate Change Policy which vision is low-carbon, climate-resilient Nigeria, and a mission of ensuring sustainable development and a climate proofed economy through multi-stakeholder engagement. The goal of the policy is to promote a low-carbon, climate-resilient and gender-responsive sustainable socio-economic development, which is expected to (i) reduce Nigeria’s vulnerability to climate change impacts, (ii) improve its social, economic, and ecological resilience. (iii) reduce greenhouse gas emissions, (iv) increased awareness of climate change impacts and adaptation and mitigation measures, (v) enhance and strengthen research, innovation and technology development and transfer and systematic observations, (vi) enhance capacity to implement climate change related interventions at national, state and community levels, and (vii) mainstream climate change and its cross-cutting issues in national development.

A major objective of the goal of Nigeria’s Climate Change Policy is the implementation of adaptation and mitigation measures with co-benefits and SDG focused outcomes that promote low-carbon development in the country and reduce the vulnerability of Nigerians to the impacts of climate change.

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In contributing to global efforts to reduce GHG emissions and attaining a low-carbon economy, Nigeria will analyse its options for reducing greenhouse gases, assess various mitigation scenarios and explore various mitigation options that may include increasing the availability of carbon sinks (biological absorption of GHGs) and reducing the level of emissions released into the atmosphere from sectors identified in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) (i.e. agriculture, power, oil and gas, transport, industry, water and waste sectors) which produce the greatest amounts of emissions in the country. The strategies will lay emphasis on (i) reducing GHG emissions, (ii) preventing new GHG emissions to be released in the atmosphere and (iii) preserving and enhancing sinks and reservoirs of GHGs (e.g., by protecting natural carbon sinks like forests or creating new sinks – carbon sequestration).

Since climate change is now inevitable, putting strategies and measures in place to adapt to these changes also remains significant. The country’s approach is to treat adaptation to climate change as an issue of climate-resilient development, rather than as a bespoke set of activities (flood defences, drought plans, and so on), combining climate and development challenges into a single strategy. The aim is to protect the health of the ecosystems and the people, human settlements, and infrastructure, as well as energy supply among others from climate-related damages and to maximise the benefits from climate-related opportunities. This will prepare Nigeria for a climate-resilient future.

Nigeria is one of the countries that has submitted her updated 2021 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). NDC is a major instrument for the implementation of the Paris Agreement which started off as the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC); a policy document that indicated the path each country intended to pursue towards a low-carbon development that will contribute to the global effort of limiting global warming to not more than 1.5C above the pre-industrial level. It is to be noted that in 2015, Nigeria submitted an ambitious and transparent NDC, as a lower-middle income economy.

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Nigeria was among the few developing countries to set an economy-wide target. However, it is noted with concern that the collective ambition of all NDCs submitted falls well short of the Paris Agreement objectives. The updated Nigeria’s NDC represents significantly enhanced climate ambition as compared to the 2015 NDC. 

Nigeria’s updated NDC recommits to 47% against the 2015 45% its ambitious relative emission reduction targets from the 2015 NDC, retaining the unconditional contribution of 20% below business-as-usual by 2030. Maintaining this level of climate ambition in the face of lower-than-expected economic growth represents a significant enhancement, as it will result in substantially lower absolute GHG emissions than stated in the 2015 NDC. The scale of the emissions reductions – the conditional contribution is below current levels and consistent with a global 1.5oC pathway. Mobilisation of the requisite international support and private sector investment would enable Nigeria to peak GHG emissions peak this decade.

It is my firm belief that Nigeria will further align with global climate actions given available financial support, opportunities, and necessary national legal framework to act and envision solutions that will preserve nature for future generations as the world also looks forward to the ambitious commitments of Parties at upcoming COP26 global discourse in Glasgow.

Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor is Nigeria’s Environment Minister of State

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