Climate Change Act and Future of Nigeria’s Environment

This is as the global community has come to terms with the reality of the impact of the climate change on humanity and the environment.

Thus climate change is one of the dominant topics globally among world leaders, environment scholars and activists.

The Antarctica, at the rate of 150 billion tons per annum is melting at a rate never seen in human history. Wild fires are rampant in parts of U.S while the erosions have worsened in the southern Nigeria.

In the northern region desertification moving like a whirlwind, the heat wave in Europe and parts of Asia to flooding in India now seem normal.

Lake Chad, said to be the size of El Salvador, Israel, or Massachusetts has shrunk from 25,000km2 to 2,500km2.

Grasslands are disappearing. These and many more leave no one in doubt that the climate is fighting back after millions of years of abuse by humans.

Through industrialisation, reckless use of eco-unfriendly energies, felling of trees and bush burning, mankind actions have continued to threaten the environment.

As global populations grow and demands for energy increases, the pressure on environment escalates.

Almost on the brink of global environment disaster, world leaders have decided to push back against actions responsible for climate change.

In some cases these efforts are preventive measures such as sensitisation campaigns, while in others, they are restorative as seen in the reforestation of deforested parts of the world.

World leaders have also entered into agreements, protocols and conventions to demonstrate how serious they are to save the planet earth.

Some of them include 1997 The Kyoto Protocol which seeks to reduce carbondioxide emissions and the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

It is predicated on the fact that industrialised nations needed to lessen the amount of their CO2 emissions.

In 2015 The Paris Climate Agreement replaced the Kyoto Protocol and includes commitments from all major Green House Gases (GHG)-emitting countries, to reduce their climate-altering pollution.

Others are Bonn Convention, the Vienna Convention, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Until recently, Nigeria has not done enough to domesticate these conventions as several attempts to pass the necessary bills in the National Assembly did not yield dividends.

Even when one of the bills was successfully passed by the lawmakers, the then President, Goodluck Jonathan did not apend the presidential assent.

However, in the 8th National Assembly, Rep. Sam Onuigbo, then the Chairman of House Committee on Climate Change in the House of Representatives reintroduced the bill.

Through his resilience, networking and lobbying, the bill was eventually passed by the 9th National Assembly. On Nov. 18 2021 President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Climate Change Bill into Climate Change Act (2021).

Nigeria’s Climate Change Bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Sam Onuigbo, chairman of the Climate Change Committee of the House of Representatives and chair of the Climate Parliament group in Nigeria, was signed into law by President Buhari on Nov. 18 2021.

“It was important that we take action to tackle the impact of climate change in our society. The global community is moving in that direction and Nigeria cannot afford otherwise.

“Growing up in the village I used to know six springs and as I am talking to you now five of them have dried up.

“This is an existential problem that if not challenged now will create more complex problems in the future’’, said Onuigbo on what inspired him to take up the Climate Change Bill challenge.

While expressing hopes that the inter-ministerial nature of the National Climate Change Council will deliver on the mandate given its inter-ministerial nature, Onuigbo called for urgent shift from fossil to renewable energy.

“This battle started in the 6th Assembly till the 8th Assembly when I came into the picture. Fortunately after much intrigues we got the job done and President Muhammadu Buhari finally signed into law.

“I am positive that the Council, given its composition and leadership will deliver on this important national assignment’’, he Onuigbo told newsmen.

The Act’s primary aim is to develop and implement mechanisms that will foster low carbon emission and develop a sustainable environment in the country.

The Act, which is now referred to in many quarters as ‘Sam Onuigbo Climate Change Act’ establishes the National Council on Climate Change.

The Council is under the chairmanship of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is vested with the powers to develop policies and make decisions on all matters concerning climate change in Nigeria.

It outlines the climate change obligations of the MDAs, public entities, and private entities such as adherence to adhere to the annual carbon emission reduction targets, in accordance with the Action Plan and carbon budgets.

The ‘Sam Onuigbo’ Climate Change Act further stipulates that MDAs, among other things, must establish a climate change desk for ensuring integration of climate change activities into their core mandate.

The Act also stipulates that any individual, private or public entity whose actions negatively affects efforts towards mitigation and the adaptation measures commits an offence and is liable to a penalty as will be determined by the Council.

The climate change efforts resonate with other activists and environment experts.

A scholar and environment activist, Prof. Ubom Bassey says effective implementation of the Act is key to the future of Nigeria’s environmental resources.

Bassey is of the department of Science and Environmental Education, University of Abuja.

He commended the tenacity of Onuigbo in pushing through the Bill and called on the Council to ensure its smooth implementation.

Similarly, delivering the 14th Inaugural Lecture of Osun State University, the institution’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Research, Innovation and Partnerships, Prof. Anthony Kola-Olusanya, said it was time for collective efforts to address climate change.

“Our unsustainable economic production practices and development activities continue to cause global anxiety, particularly regarding how far the planet can absorb its continued abuse.

“Sustainable development is a societal challenge, not simply an environmental one – improvements in education and healthcare are, therefore, required to achieve higher income and better environmental decisions”, he said.

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