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Looking ahead Durban amid baton change

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Issue date: 
Jul, 03 2011
Publisher Name: 
Independet Nigeria Online
Michael Simire
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Despite a whole range of national efforts, Nigeria’s environmental performance on the global scene still appears dismal. In fact, the 56.2 score recorded in a recent Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks the country 126th out of 149 nations surveyed.

Indeed, the low EPI figure puts Nigeria behind several other African countries like Mauritius (78.1), Egypt (76.3), Ghana (70.8), Kenya (69.0), South Africa (69.0) and Cameroon (63.8).

But the nation is facing environmental challenges and efforts are being undertaken to address: environmental degradation; drought and desertification control; erosion, flood and coastal zone management; pollution and waste management; environmental health and sanitation; climate change; oil and gas sector monitoring; and regulation and standards enforcement.

On the climate change sector, numerous issues are under consideration, and require urgent action, in the light of the United Nations Conference that held late last year in Cancun, Mexico and the forthcoming one this year in December in Durban, South Africa. But very little seems to be happening at present, even as the nation awaits a new Federal Environment Minister.

The out gone minister, John Odey, was at the helm of affairs from December 2008 to May 2011, and notable during this period were a number of activities, such as commencement of action on the First National Communication (FNC), Second National Communication (SNC), Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA), Climate Change Adaptation Strategy Technical Report (CCASTR), National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action (NASPA), National Climate Change Commission Bill (NCCCB), Nigeria Climate Change Policy Draft (NCCP-D), Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), National REDD Readiness Programme (NRRP), Nigeria Strategic Climate Change Trust Fund (NSCCTF), and the Nigeria Clean Energy Access Programme (NCEAP).

Over two years after work commenced on it, the NAMA is yet to be finalised, though numerous comments and contributions made at a stakeholders’ validation forum that held some months ago in Abuja are presumably being reflected as part of the ultimate document. The NAMA refers to a set of policies and actions countries undertake as part of a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission.

The NCCP-D, which is anchored on fostering a low-carbon, high-growth economic development path, is likewise receiving finishing touches on the back of a corroboration exercise. The document underlines the nation’s need to generate adequate energy from a mix of sources for her rapid socio-economic development without significantly increasing the current level of GHG emission.

The NCEAP will on the other hand attempt to cut the nation’s carbon footprint while reducing energy use, translating to decrease in power generation and consumption costs. It aims to distribute 400 million energy-efficient bulbs and fluorescent tubes over the next three years.

After a scoping mission conducted by the UN-REDD Programme and which held in Cross River State and Abuja, the NRRP emerged, making it a major step in the country’s quest towards becoming a full-fledged REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) participatory nation. The country is hoping that the NRRP will receive the nod of the UN-REDD Policy Board (UPB) and access a N4 million start-off fund at the UPB’s next meeting in Germany in October.

Following its eventual harmonisation last year by the previous sessions of both the Senate and House of Representatives, the NCCCB was presented to President Goodluck Jonathan for it to be signed into law in December. However, Mr. President is yet to assent to the legislation despite repeated appeals to that effect by nature conservation stakeholders, who insist that, when eventually operational, the Commission would create an appreciable institution to tackle climate change, provide “green jobs” and give a sturdy voice to Nigeria at international negotiations.  

After what seemed like a late and somewhat slow beginning in the CDM field, Nigeria earlier in the year made remarkable progress when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ranked the nation ninth in anticipated global certified emission reduction (CER) projects. According to the UNFCCC, Nigeria has an expected average annual CER of 4,693, 552 units, which is the highest in Africa and forms 1.03 percent of the world’s total.

Nigeria has however so far earned 1,867 CER units, supposedly from four registed CDM activities, which are the Kwale Recovery of Associated Gas Project, Ovade-Ogharefe Gas Capture and Processing Project, Save 80 Fuel Wood Stoves and Asuoko/Umutu Gas Recovery and Marketing Facility. Several other projects are reportedly under UNFCCC consideration for approval.

Such “modest” achievements should however be consolidated upon, according to industry observers, some of who believe that continuation is vital in this regard.

“We really need to ensure that we continue at this pace we are going which is not totally bad. The policies and programmes need not be tampered with. In fact, it will not be out of place if the last minister’s agenda were kept intact by whoever will be the next Environment Minister. And, if possible, we won’t mind him still in the saddle this time around,” said a source, who pleaded anonymity.

Environmental lawyer and CDM expert, Teni Majekodunmi, spoke in a similar vein. She said, “We want continuation as well as addition of new things; new policies and a stronger commitment to climate negotiations. Government needs to convene a properly-trained negotiating team for the COP meetings.

“Proper policies should be put in place in terms of climate change adaptation, CDM and carbon financing. The new minister should help drive the policies under preparation (such as the NASPA and NAMA) such that they eventually see the light of day.”

On the possibility of Odey retaining the seat, she intoned, “It’s okay if he comes back. He has done a good job, and he will simply continue from where he left off. He will now be able to execute the plans he had put in place but was unable to address because of limited time.”

On the Durban COP, Majekodunmi stated, “We need to have several sessions and make a way forward. An Action Plan needs to be drawn up so that we decide on what we want to do. We should also prepare a National Climate Change Position as soon as possible in preparation for Durban.”

Jan Thomas Hiemstra, Deputy Director of UNDP Nigeria Country Office, said the organisation was committed towards supporting the nation’s numerous sustainable development and climate change endeavours.

“We appeal to the highest authorities to really address the climate change impacts and related scenerios emerging nationwide. Tackling the fundamental causes of poverty, for example, is crucial and we will continue to do what we can to support the government and the new minister in this regard,” he said.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut