By Chidimma C. Okeke
The alarming increase in carbon pollution, temperatures and climate destruction led the United Nations to project that the world would need to intensify effort in curtailing climate change to an appropriate degree dictated by science – 1.5°C rise at most.
Similarly, the Paris Agreement also provides an open-door framework for countries to record sustainable progress in their positive actions.
To this end, President Muhammadu Buhari joined other global leaders to reaffirm commitment to combating Climate Change at the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York, recently.
The assembly delivers major steps in national ambition and private sector actions on the pathway to key 2020 climate deadline. Major announcements were made by government and private sector leaders to boost climate action momentum, and demonstrated growing recognition that the pace of climate action must be rapidly accelerated.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “The best science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells us that any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees will lead to major and irreversible damage to the ecosystems that support us.
“Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3-degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century. The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win. This is not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk. This is not a climate negotiation summit. You don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit,” he said.
Guterres further said: “Governments are here to show you are serious about enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. Cities and businesses are here showing what leadership looks like, investing in a green future. And young people are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability, demanding urgent action.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, speaking at the General Assembly, expressed the commitment of his administration to implementing the Paris Agreement signed in 2015, and further highlighted some of the steps his administration has taken in that direction.
“Nigeria stands resolutely with the international community in observing agreed carbon emission targets which I signed in 2015. We have since issued two sovereign Green Bonds and have added an additional 1 million hectares of forested land taking our total forest coverage to 6.7 per cent through collective national effort,” he said.
Also, the Minister of Environment, Dr. Muhammad Mahmood Abubakar emphasized that global temperature has risen over 1 degree Celsius and the quest now is to stay below 1.5 degree Celsius, stressing that Nigeria, being a signatory to the Paris Agreement, needs to take action that will reduce green gas emission.
On the steps taken by the federal government to reduce green gas emission, he said toward mitigating climate change, Nigeria has undertaken planting of trees because of its capacity to absorb carbon dioxide which is one of the gasses that cause global warming.
Dr. Mahmoud added that the Great Green Wall, a project that cuts across 11 countries, in the upper northern region of Nigeria, is also another effort of the federal government focused on combating climate change as many trees had been planted with many more to be planted.
Speaking on some of the steps Nigeria has taken in fulfilling its obligation to the Paris Agreement, the minister said: “Nigeria has done well by generating fund through the issuance of Green Bond, the first bond which successfully generated N10 billion and was used to generate cleaner energy which currently powers seven universities using solar energy with an additional 30 universities coming on board soon.”
He further said: “Mr President, during the UNGA made a commitment that Nigeria will plant 25 million trees, this is where we will need all hands on board as well as partnership with the youth.
He has made that commitment by directing the Ministry of Environment to collaborate with the Ministry of Youth in this regard.”
He said President Buhari has approved the establishment of environmental youth hubs in the six geo-political zones of the federation to encourage youth involvement in environmental issues.
He said the youth hubs will spread across all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. “We will start meeting with the youths immediately as they are pivotal to Mr President’s environmental policy” Dr Mahmoud declared.
The Director of Health of the Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey, speaking at the South South Regional Youth Climate Incubation Hub in Port Harcourt, said the hub was held to further strengthen Nigeria’s position as a member country of the United Nations’ Youth Engagement and Public Mobilization track at the Climate Action Summit in September 2019.
He said young people have the brightest ideas for solving problems of climate change in the country adding that the youth are expected to come up with ideas that were creative and at the same time specific, measurable, achievable, bankable, realistic and time bound.
“These would be ideas that can be harnessed, developed and built from concept stage to actual implementation,” he added.
Concluding, he noted that a number of innovative ideas were strongly recommended by the various South South states in attendance, which included eco-friendly technological solutions, including Apps to map vulnerable and non-vulnerable areas to climate change impact and making solar panels more affordable for the people.
Others include mangrove reclamation and tree planting, especially indigenous and economic crops; as well as amplification of youth voices and harnessing their creative ideas on climate change.
Also speaking at the event, Director of Department of Climate Change, Dr Peter Tarfa, urged youths to remain engaged in taking climate actions and assured them that the federal government is determined to keep a space for ideas from youths to be mobilised for climate action that would address the challenges faced by Nigeria as well as the global community and to also facilitate the achievements of Nigeria’s NDC targets to the Paris Agreement.