Nigeria in the Climate Change Conundrum

THISDAY Newspaper-Godwin Haruna

Nigeria's Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is a document that will coalesce the national circumstances, which will form the basis against which future auditing of climate situation in the country will be compared. Designed for intervention and mainstreaming climate change into national development plans, the preparation of the document has reached advanced stages. GODWIN HARUNA writes

Across the world, the climate change conundrum is taking one form or the other with devastating consequences. While Nigeria is experiencing an unprecedented period of hot weather at this time of the year, parts of Europe have continued to experience an unusual snow rains that have made the weather unbearable. Experts say these patterns of weather being experienced all over the world form the dynamics of climate change that governments must necessarily prepare to mitigate while planning their development models.
This came to the fore at a meeting convened by the Special Climate Unit of the Federal Ministry of the Environment in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently. The meeting deliberated on the progress so far made on Nigeria's Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is to assist the conference of the parties to the Convention in assessing how far each party is complying with the implementation of the Convention especially that which has to do with Green House emission reduction.
Speaking to THISDAY at the meeting, Dr. Friday Ojonigu Ati of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who is a consultant on the project, stated that in the past, climate change issues were merely scientific. Ati said in modern times, however, issues revolving around climate change have reached the realm of development. He said the issue at stake is the vulnerability of the country to climate change dynamics in all aspects of its development areas. He added that the document being prepared is expected to bring out the zone of the country that was more vulnerable to climate change as well as the population that will be most affected adversely.
The don stated that if that is identified, then the adaptive measures to mitigate the impact of such changes would be considered. He said issues of climate change are no longer the abstract issues that the society considered in the past, but recent developments have revealed that the impact of climate change is on the man on the street. Therefore, he said they should be made aware that if the climate is changing; it is going to affect their lifestyles including health, economy, tourism and the whole gamut of their existence.
“People should be made aware that climate change is not something for scientists to deliberate, but something that all stakeholders, youths, children, men and women, high and low government officials in all tiers, the press and everyone else should get involved. The Second National Communication that would be submitted to the UNFCCC would bring out issues that border on public interest. The role of government in all these is that from the issues raised in the document all the government departments will be sensitised before formulating their development plans in order to incorporate mitigation elements to curb the effects of climate change,” Ati stated.
He added that this would make for instance, the agriculture ministry to prepare for a likely drought in the country and take measures to checkmate it. He added that other line ministries would also take action as it affects their operations in service delivery to the people.
Earlier in his overview of the situation, Mr. Yerima Tarfa of the Special Climate Unit of the federal Ministry of Environment said preparation of National Communication (NC) was an obligation on all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, of which Nigeria became a party in 1994. Tarfa said NC gives baseline information on national circumstances as it relates to climate change and allows for intervention and mainstreaming CC into National Development Plans.
He said Nigeria submitted its First National Communication in 2003. He stated that preparation of the Second National Communication (SNC) is on-going through four thematic groups coordinated by lead consultants adding that 70% of the work has been completed and draft reports submitted to Special Climate Change Unit. He added that, six more weeks is required by the consultants to complete their work.
“It is worthy of note that as at end of 2009, only 20 countries across the world submitted their SNC, with 5 only from Africa (mostly small size countries). Despite the constraints enumerated at the workshop, the implementation of the project was rated impressive and encouraging. Development partners present at the meeting committed themselves to support where necessary towards early and qualitative completion of this national document,” Tarfa said.
He said funding for the project is through a uniform envelope to all developing countries from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The envelope is irrespective of country's size, population or circumstance and that could explain while some small-sized countries could submit their documents to the UNFCCC ahead of Nigeria. He said activities required of parties to the Convention include, carry out national inventory of the greenhouse gas sources and sinks, to publish the information; periodically update the same and make it available to the Conference of the Parties; formulate and periodically update national programmes containing measure to mitigate climate change by addressing anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gas sources and sinks; Prepare for adaptation to the impacts of climate change especially integrated plans for coastal zone management, water resources, agricultural, health, droughts and desertification as well as floods; Promote and co-operate in scientific, technological, technical and socio-economic and other research, systematic observations and data storage related to climate system; Promote and co-operate in education, training and public awareness related to climate change; among others.
Tarfa stated that the purpose of such document of national circumstances would form the basis against which future auditing of climate situation in the country will be compared. This, he added, is to assist the Conference of the parties to the Convention in assessing how far each party is complying with the implementation of the Convention especially that which has to do with GHG emission reduction.
It is also to intimate other parties to the Convention about the national circumstance with respect to greenhouse gases composition of Nigeria’s atmosphere, vulnerability, adaptation and abatement analyses of the impacts of climate change as well as what options are available to mitigate the effects there-from. Tarfa explained that the draft proposal for the preparation of the Second National Communication was subjected to various reviews both nationally and by the UNFCCC Secretariat. It has been approved and implementation has since commenced and added that the project was being executed by the Special Climate Change Unit of the Federal Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with relevant ministries, academia and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who are members of NCCC.
He said SNC is a continuation of activities performed under the First National Communication and other studies/activities undertaken after the FNC. “It shall provide systematic information on the trends in climate change indicators in Nigeria based on available national data on systematic observations and research on future climate scenarios, as well as provide articulate programme for public education, carbon trade under the Clean Development Mechanism and other relevant mechanism to improve adaptation to climate change in the country,” he stressed.
Also speaking at the meeting, Mr. Muyiwa Odele of the Climate Change Unit of UNDP, pledged the organisation’s support for the process. Odele urged all stakeholders to meet the deadline set for the submission of the document because of its importance to national development.
“It is in line with UNDP corporate goal to integrate global environmental concerns and commitments in national policy and ensure environmental sustainability. The project will also contribute to making progress towards ensuring environmental sustainability,” he added. Tarfa, on his part, said they have engaged the best local expertise at the maximum extent and as well as, international consultancy when it is needed to ensure a smooth process. He said they would build upon findings and experience gained through activities/projects aiming at addressing climate change issues and meeting country’s commitments under the UNFCCC.
He said other strategies for the implementation of the project was to build linkages with UNDP/GEF projects “promotion of use of renewable energy for local energy supply by removing the barriers to increased utilisation of indigenous renewable energy resources” and “The National Capacity Self-Assessment for Global Environment Management” (NCSA). He added that close communication would be established with other major bi-or multilateral donors active in the climate change focal area or related fields adding, “These donors will be encouraged to participate in the project through national workshops and consultation processes.”
Initiation workshop was held in December 2006 to jump-start the project. He stressed that experts selected have been subjected to training in January, 2008 in Abuja in the thematic areas of greenhouse gas inventories and mitigation; and vulnerability and adaptation which will form an integral part of the National Communication. According to him, the thematic teams have being mobilised in trenches and progress reports were submitted to give impetus towards the completion of the project.
The four thematic teams working on the SNC are being led four consultants, who in turn are working with other dons to complete the project within a time-frame of six weeks. Each of them noted the importance of the process in national development during their presentation at the one-day forum.


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