Probing Nigeria’s commitment to 2060 net zero emissions target

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Climate change is the biggest issue facing the world today. It is already threatening the welfare of man and badly affecting wildlife and biodiversity. Reports say that this condition is caused by burning fossil fuels, deforestation and livestock farming.

The European Commission’s Climate Action report says that these factors “are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth’s temperature” by adding “enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.”

The United Nations Climate Action grouped the causes of climate change as follows: generating power, manufacturing goods, cutting down forests, using transportation, producing food, powering buildings and consuming too much.

It says fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

For the European Commission, 2011-2020 was the warmest decade recorded, with global average temperature reaching 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels in 2019. It says that human-induced global warming is presently increasing at a rate of 0.2°C per decade.

In Nigeria, the impact of climate change is already being felt; from an increase in temperature to low crop yield, food shortage, public health crisis, reduced livestock production, loss of income, conflicts, decreased hydroelectric power supply, loss of shelter and road networks among others.

Recall that Nigeria’s 2012 flooding claimed 363 lives while that of 2022 led to the death of 662 people, even as 3,174 others suffered injuries. Also, about 2.3 million people were displaced and 597,476 houses destroyed. A total of 2,430,445 individuals were displaced by the 2022 flood disaster.

The National Emergency Management Agency said that the country lost over N2.6 trillion to the huge flood that swept through 30 of the 36 states in the country in 2012, adding that over seven million people were affected.

Climate Change Knowledge Portal of the World Bank says that Nigeria is characterised by three distinct climate zones – a tropical monsoon climate in the South, a tropical savanna climate for most of the central regions, and a Sahelian hot and semi-arid climate in the North of the country.

It says that the mean annual temperature for Nigeria is 26.9°C, with average monthly temperatures ranging between 24°C (December, January) and 30°C (April) while placing the mean annual precipitation at 1,165.0 mm.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction says Nigeria’s climate has been changing and that it’s evident in the increases in temperature, variable rainfall, rise in sea level and flooding, drought and desertification, land degradation, more frequent extreme weather events, affected freshwater resources and loss of biodiversity.

According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world must cut its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 to prevent global warming of 1.5°C, or likely more, above pre-industrial levels.

It was, perhaps, for this reason, that the Federal Government on November 2, 2021, pledged to end carbon dioxide emissions by 2060 during the COP26 held in Glasgow, United Kingdom. Sixteen days later, it signed its Climate Change Bill into law, perhaps, to show the world that it was ready to keep the promise it made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

But does Nigeria really intend to keep this promise? What practical actions have it initiated since 2021 after the pledge and the law? Can Nigeria, a developing country, mobilise finance to achieve its climate targets by 2060, especially considering that lack of financial resources represents one of the most formidable barriers to fast-tracking action on climate change and achieving a green transition?

Can it also end deforestation by 2030 as part of measures to fight climate change as it pledged? In September 2023, President Bola Tinubu stated that Nigeria needed to spend $17.7bn annually to be able to deliver on its climate target and energy transition plan.

Tinubu, who spoke at the Presidential Day Programme of the African Climate Summit held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, Kenya where he was represented by his Minister of State for Environment, Dr Iziaq Salako, reportedly added that aside from the annual sum was an additional $10bn, annually.

“Significantly, our plan helps to crystallise the scale of resources needed to deliver climate targets, and current financial flows will not suffice.

“Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan requires $1.9 trillion spending up to 2060, including $410 billion above business-as-usual spending”, he said.

It was on this ETP, adopted in January 2022, that the country’s net zero carbon emission pledge by 2060 at COP26 was anchored. In October last year, the African Development Bank said that Nigeria required strong private sector investments to meet its climate change and green growth goals.

The bank, in its “Nigeria Country Focus Report 2023”, says that the mobilisation of private sector climate finance is critical in meeting the 2030 nationally determined contribution targets of the country.

It says that Nigeria needs an annual investment of $20.5 billion in renewable energy, sustainable transport and waste management; arguing that the strength of the private sector to finance climate change initiatives in the country lies in its ability to harness the interest of investors, investment funds and credit institutions.

“Nigeria’s climate financing needs over 2020 to 2030 were estimated at $247.3 billion – an annual average of about $22.5 billion.

“Of this amount, mitigation activities constitute the largest proportion (71.5 per cent) of the financing needs, estimated at $177 billion”, the report partly read.

But for a country with a high rate of poverty, a debt of over $92 billion (which is still growing), and unimpressive experience in attracting international climate finance, how does it intend to fulfil its 2060 net zero carbon emission pledge?

This is about the first time Nigeria is toeing this path and the government of the country needs to provide answers to these posers and more; highlighting practical steps to be taken to achieve that.

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