The rave of climate change in Nigeria arguably started after former President Muhammadu Buhari joined other countries to assent the Paris Agreement. COP26 is the most recent annual UN climate change conference hosted in the UK between November 1-12, 2021 in partnership with Italy. It stands for Conference of the Parties and was attended by countries that signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is an international environmental treaty to combat dangerous human interference with the climate system by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
At this conference in 2021, Buhari announced that Nigeria aimed to achieve net-zero carbon emission by 2060. Thereafter, the then Federal Government developed the Energy Transition Plan, a plan to guide the country towards achieving universal energy access and a carbon-neutral energy system by the target date. The plan was chaired by former vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. Since the agreement, the Buhari administration showed that it was committed to achieving the goal before handing power to this new administration.
Tinubu administration should take climate change seriously.
Climate change is a real and pressing issue affecting every aspect of human lives. It is not just a buzzword or a topic for political debates. Its effects are already being felt worldwide, including rising sea levels, heat waves, droughts, floods, loss of biodiversity, food insecurity, and more. The issue has contributed to Nigeria’s increasing economic and social challenges. So, the country has acknowledged that there is a need to move to a zero- or low-carbon future.
It is true that the newly elected government, led by President Bola Tinubu, is faced with a number of immediate challenges. Some of them include widespread violence and insecurity, hyperinflation and the depreciation of the naira, and a rising debt burden. However, climate change cannot be changed easily and has to be taken seriously. It has directly contributed to the crises in Nigeria. An instance is the extreme flooding in 2022, which displaced 1.4 million people and caused massive food inflation.
Some of the ways to tackle climate change in Nigeria.
Before 2018, renewable energy generation equipment was eligible for tax exemptions. But the tax breaks ended, resulting in higher retail prices for solar solutions. The African Clean Energy Technical Assistance Facility in a study calculated that the benefits of cheaper solar products (energy access and job creation) would have outweighed the tax revenues forgone. There have been calls for the new president to reinstate the incentives for solar products. Another way to tackle the climate issue is that the government should act urgently to manage flood risks. The Federal Government could invest in awareness campaigns to educate citizens on the dangers of flooding and how to prepare and respond to flood events.
Also, sustainable urban planning and land-use management can make urban areas less vulnerable to flooding. This involves enforcing building codes and zoning regulations, safeguarding natural buffers such as wetlands, and using green infrastructure to manage storm water runoff. Additionally, the government can review existing initiatives in the power, agriculture and transport sectors to advance climate action at a modest cost. An example is the Presidential Power Initiative, a partnership between the Nigerian government and Siemens Energy AG to upgrade energy infrastructure.
Some more ways that FG can address climate change in Nigeria.
FG can also upskill smallholder farmers on climate-smart agriculture methods. These include adopting flood- and drought-tolerant seed varieties, installing early warning systems for weather, and training farmers to improve land productivity. Another area where the government could act on climate is infrastructure for the energy transition. This can be in the form of investing in modern grids that encourage private investment in solar and wind power. The government can also partner with multilateral institutions and development banks to mobilize the finance for climate action.