Estimated reading time: 22 minute(s)
The 2021 UN Climate talks are underway in Glasgow, Scotland, and over 180 countries and 30,000 delegates have registered their presence. Nigeria is not left out. President Muhammadu Buhari is currently at the summit and so far, he has made bold, timely, and ambitious commitments. With the summit coming to a close in a few days, it is impressive to see Nigeria recording productive partnerships, showcasing her successes, and above all, raising her ambitions.
A photo taken on November 2, 2021, shows President Muhammadu Buhari giving his national statement at COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow
GREAT GREEN WALL INITIATIVE – A STEP IN PROGRESS
On Monday, 1st of November, President Muhammadu Buhari spoke at a side event themed ‘Accelerating land restoration in Africa, the case of the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative’ where he highlighted Nigeria’s role in actualizing the land restoration initiative. President Buhari announced that Nigeria is proud to have participated in drafting and harmonizing the Results Framework for the Accelerator with five cardinal pillars to address the 2021- 2030 Decennial Priority Investment Plan ambition of the Great Green Wall project. The five cardinal pillars, according to him, include the restoration of 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequestration of 250 million tonnes of carbon, creation of 10 million green jobs, resilient economic development in the various member states, as well as capacity strengthening and development. He also expressed his optimism about Africa’s ambition to restore over 100 million hectares of the degraded landscape for productive agriculture. “With all hands on deck and concerted efforts at land restoration by African leaders, I am optimistic that Africa’s ambition of restoring over 100million hectares of the degraded landscape for productive agriculture is achievable,” He noted. Taking a step further, he openly committed to expanding the achievements of the GGW programme in Africa, stating that Nigeria would soon assume the leadership of the Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall project. “Together we commit to the transformative process of restoring the African degraded landscape and ultimately the continent’s environment,” he concluded.
A photo taken on November 1, 2021, shows President Muhammadu Buhari, Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and France’s President Emmanuel Macron at the the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative side event as part of the World Leaders’ Summit of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
Reacting to the president’s statement, Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon, commended his efforts on Climate change and cited Nigeria as a guide on how other nations and corporate institutions can take action on climate change. ‘‘We are fortunate to have President Buhari of Nigeria with us today. Nigeria plays a critical role in the restoration movement and has pledged to restore 4 million hectares of degraded lands. This kind of ambition coming from Africa’s largest economy underscores just how vital this issue is.’’ The business tycoon said.
NET-ZERO BY 2060
In other news, Nigeria became the latest major emerging and oil-dependent economy to set a net-zero target. President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, 2nd of November, in his national statement delivered at the COP26 Leaders’ Summit held as part of the 2021 UN Climate talks, pledged that Nigeria will cut its emissions to net-zero by 2060.
‘‘For Nigeria, climate change is not about the perils of tomorrow but what is happening today. Desertification in the North, floods in the centre, pollution, and erosion on the coast are enough evidence. Nigeria is committed to net-zero by 2060.’’ The president said. He went on to promise that if Nigeria secures financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity building from the more advanced and more willing international partners, she will unconditionally increase her 2030 goal to a 47 percent cut below Business-As-Usual.
In a rare twist of fate (and in vivid contrast to what the evidence says), Mr. President began to make a case for the use of gas as a transition fuel. President Muhammadu Buhari announced that gas will play a key role in Nigeria’s transition plan. He said: ‘‘The data and evidence show that Nigeria can continue to use gas until 2040 without detracting from the goals of the Paris Agreement, as this would enable us to launch the long-term renewable energy infrastructure procurements and investments needed to have a sustainable energy supply. Consequently, I am requesting for financing of projects using transition fuels, such as gas.”
Like never before, this statement sent a mix of shame, shock, and quivers running down my spine. The room went silent and for a minute, my brain tried to make a sense of what I just heard. Clearly but faintly, I began to feel the resounding words of Faith Bitrol (IEA Director) ring in my head: “More and more countries are coming up with net-zero commitments, which is very good, but, the fact is that there is a huge and growing gap between the rhetoric [from governments] and the reality”. Just as the president attended the Global Methane pledge right after his speech on gas, it will be more of a burlesque than irony to say that Nigeria plans to hit Net-zero in 2060 by using gas as a transition fuel up till 2040.
A photo taken on November 2, 2021 shows President Buhari and other world leaders participating in the Launch of the Global Methane Pledge hosted by the United States of America on the Sidelines of COP26 UN Climate change conference in Glasgow.
In May this year, The IEA released its Net Zero by 2050 flagship report tagged – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector. The report predicts that global oil demand will decline from 90m barrels a day at present to about 24m barrels a day by 2050, therefore, there will not be a need for new investments in oil and gas fields, or new investments in coal mines. Nigeria is not exempt. The exploitation of petroleum resources (in Nigeria) for the last four decades has resulted in the massive injection of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. This makes the sector an important one in the discussion of GHG-induced climate change, as Nigeria’s Second Biennial Update Report (BUR2) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention in June 2021 further substantiates this point. The report states that Nigeria’s oil and gas industry contributes more than 40% to its annual GHG emission. More than anything else, this forces me to pop the question: then why gas?. With this scientific evidence in the books, it is nothing but a gross display of ignorance to act like the climate responds to current emissions rather than cumulative emissions. As a matter of fact, it will be outright ecocide if the impartial decarbonization of our economies is left to the ‘future’ and not made in this decade. Yet again, this points to the indisputable truth — that we need to do better; as a government, as a people, as organizations, as a race, and as a generation.
Speaking to the Guardian in May 2021, Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director and one of the world’s foremost energy economists, said: “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas, and coal, from now – from this year.Pledges made by governments are inadequate and need to be complemented with concrete action, knowing that for 1.5C to be met, greenhouse gas emissions need to be halved in this decade.”
Borokinni Joshua, a climate journalist and development campaigner writes from Lagos, Nigeria
THE GOSPEL OF A BURNING PLANET
In all of President Buhari’s speeches at the conference, one thing I particularly reckon with is that: the outcome of this year’s climate talks must result in quick resolution of all outstanding issues – the finalization of the Paris Agreement Rulebook, Adaptation, Mitigation, Finance, Article 6, and Loss and Damage. However, there is greater need for a clear, actionable, and legally-binding layout to aid the implementation of these pledges and agreements. If not, it will be very foolish of us to think that we will get to 1.5C by 2030, and like many others in the past, COP26 will be just another conference. Nevertheless, like the biblical Noah, I will keep sharing the gospel of climate action by all, and for all, knowing that it will be in our collective interest as humans to make hay before the rain comes.
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