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Nigeria Takes Bold Step with Climate Change Act to Safeguard Environmental Future

Nigeria Takes Bold Step with Climate Change Act to Safeguard Environmental Future
Nigeria Takes Bold Step with Climate Change Act to Safeguard Environmental Future

Nigeria Takes Bold Step with Climate Change Act to Safeguard Environmental Future

In the face of global acknowledgment of the severe impacts of climate change on both the environment and humanity, Nigeria has emerged as a key player in addressing this critical issue. Climate change has become a dominant global discourse, drawing attention from world leaders, environmental scholars, and activists alike.

Across the globe, alarming signs manifest the urgent need for climate action. Antarctica is witnessing unprecedented melting at a historic rate of 150 billion tons per year. Southern Nigeria grapples with worsening erosion, while wildfires ravage parts of the United States. Heatwaves in Europe and Asia, coupled with flooding in India, have become distressingly common due to the rapid progress of desertification in the northern regions.

Lake Chad, once larger than Israel, El Salvador, or Massachusetts, has dwindled to a mere 2,500 km³. Grasslands are disappearing, and it’s undeniable that the climate is reacting to centuries of human misuse.

Human activities, such as industrialization, careless use of environmentally unfriendly fuels, deforestation, and bush-burning, continue to pose a threat to the environment. As the world’s population rises, so does energy consumption, exacerbating environmental strain.

In response to the looming environmental catastrophe, global leaders have committed to resisting actions that contribute to climate change. These efforts encompass both restorative actions, like reforestation in deforested areas worldwide, and preventive measures, such as sensitization campaigns.

International leaders have signed various accords, protocols, and conventions to underscore their commitment to preserving the planet. Notable among these are the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, focusing on reducing greenhouse gas levels and carbon dioxide emissions, and the Paris Climate Agreement, which succeeded the Kyoto Protocol in 2015. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Vienna Convention, and the Bonn Convention are also crucial frameworks in this global effort.

Despite being a party to these conventions since 1994 and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol in 2004, Nigeria lagged in adopting necessary domestic measures. The National Assembly repeatedly failed to enact required laws, and even when successful, President Goodluck Jonathan declined to sign them.

The breakthrough came in the 8th National Assembly, where Rep. Sam Onuigbo, the Chairman of the House Committee on Climate Change, reintroduced the bill. Through tenacity, connections, and lobbying, he succeeded, and President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Climate Change Act (2021) into law on November 18, 2021.

Onuigbo, reflecting on the motivation behind the Climate Change Bill, stated, “Tackling the effects of climate change on our society required action on our part. Nigeria cannot afford to go in a different way from the rest of the world. I knew six springs when I was a child in the hamlet, but as I speak to you today, five of them have dried up.”

He urged an urgent transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy, expressing optimism in the National Climate Change Council’s interministerial structure to fulfill its goal.

The Act, known as the “Sam Onuigbo Climate Change Act,” aims to devise and execute strategies for reducing carbon emissions and cultivating a sustainable ecosystem within the nation. The National Council on Climate Change, chaired by the President, is established by the Act.

It delineates the responsibilities of MDAs, public and private organizations in relation to climate change, including adherence to the Action Plan, carbon budgets, and annual targets for reducing carbon emissions. The Act mandates MDAs to establish a climate change desk and penalizes individuals or organizations negatively impacting mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Prof. Ubom Bassey, an academic and environmental activist at the University of Abuja, emphasized the Act’s pivotal role in Nigeria’s environmental future. He commended Onuigbo’s tenacity and called for the Council to ensure its smooth implementation.

In alignment with this perspective, Prof. Anthony Kola-Olusanya, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Osun State University, stressed the need for collaborative efforts to combat climate change. He highlighted the societal challenge of sustainable development, emphasizing that more income and better environmental decisions can only be achieved through improvements in education and healthcare.

As Nigeria stands at the forefront of climate action with the Climate Change Act, the nation is poised to make significant strides in safeguarding its environmental resources and contributing to the global fight against climate change. The Act represents a crucial step towards a sustainable and resilient future for Nigeria and sets the stage for a united front in addressing the challenges posed by climate change.

This groundbreaking legislation aligns Nigeria with global efforts to combat climate change and underscores the nation’s commitment to environmental sustainability. As the world grapples with the consequences of climate change, Nigeria’s proactive approach signals a positive shift towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

 


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