After COP 21, What Next Nigeria?

Ajobiewe Tolulope Odigwe
Ibadan, Nigeria
In the buildup to COP 21 much admonition came from climate trackers, essayists and policy makers. These sets of people took the time to carefully educate and enlighten people on the impending dangers of climate change, they also helped people understand how and why climate issues affect their lives. In-fact they provided a collection of practical and instructive articles. Yes! These people championed the course of environmental protection and sustainability by the act of writing and storytelling. 

At this time, negotiations are still on-going. Talks and deliberations have also taken the center stage in Paris at the COP 21, with Heads of states and representatives pledging their undying commitments towards curbing the threats of climate change. Suffice to say they have gathered together to chart a new course in the drive to bequeath a sustainable environment to generations to come. But even at this point, there is the need to remind ourselves that COP 21 is far from over even when the curtains are drawn on the 11th of December 2015. Like Joshua Wiese rightly said, it is only a single step in a long journey. 

To warm the hearts of climate trackers in Nigeria, Seun Akioye of The Nation reported that “Nigeria is taking the lead in the African negotiating team by pushing for strong measures to help developing countries combat and build resilience against the effects of climate change on the continent.” In his reportage, Nigeria’s lead negotiator, Dr. Adeoye Adejuwon stated that the country has a strong voice in Africa and has taken a leadership role in the negotiations for the final draft of agreements which would determine the success of the climate change talks in Paris. Adejuwon further added that Nigeria has made an unconditional offer to end greenhouse gas emission by 20% by the year 2030. But if given the required assistance, Nigeria will reduce emissions by 45% in the same year. 

Therefore as we laud this stride and effort by the Federal Government of Nigeria, one must also be halted in the tracks of praise, commendation and thanksgiving, but call and clamor for an implementation plan just like negotiators in Paris have done. It is not enough that COP 21 is adjudged the biggest gathering of Heads of State ever. The most important thing is, after this gathering what comes onboard?  Will Nigeria wait for foreign aid/assistance before it sets the ball rolling after Paris climate talks? Will the government at all levels demonstrate a high level of commitment towards the actualization of the agreements in Paris? How exactly will Nigeria go about fulfilling the pledges contained in her INDC? Is this the time we need to incorporate into the national budget funds to accommodate tackling climate change? Should Nigerians push yet for another bill in the Senate to keep leaders on their toes as regards to climate change? These among many others are the big questions that comes to mind at this point. 

To clear the air, we all must also understand that time and again emphasis has been laid on the fact that Nigeria is signatory to numerous conventions and treaties in the quest and call to preserve and conserve the environment. Aside that, there are also several laws that have been enacted to this effect; Is it the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Nigerian Management Act on Environment (Draft) 2000; the Land Use Act 1986; Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provisions) Act; Environmental Assessment Act?  All of these are many among the laws on environmental protection in the country. In a nut shell, the laws are there, the policies are in engraved somewhere, the strategies are also clearly written and documented. This makes one concur with Yahaya Othman’s position, when he posited that “It is trite that laws are formulated to govern current realities in the society. However, it is sad to say that environmental issues that have bedeviled the country and the incessant disregard on environmental safety standards have gone unabated. This is largely due to the lethargy of regulatory bodies in enforcing these regulations.” 

If his words are anything to go buy, it is then evident that the problem is not in the laws, in the desire for more laws, or even in Nigeria’s INDC, rather in their enforcement and implementation. Therefore, task ahead of us calls not for dillydallying on the stage of action, the malady of travelling through the vicious cycle of negligence, nonchalance, or the misappropriation of funds and resources. All of these must stop. Therefore, to answer the query posed at the beginning of this piece, After Cop 21, it is expedient that Nigeria swings into action immediately if its plan to develop gas power plants at gas flare sites to end gas flaring by 2030, 2 percent year energy efficiency (30 percent by 2030), off-grid solar Photovoltaic (Pv) of 13,000 MW, efficient gas generators, and climate smart agriculture and reforestation, does not all end up as mere papered declarations.

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