Nigeria’s Climate Action Strategy: The Role of Policies in Facilitating Nigeria’s Proposed 2060 Net Zero Target and Sustainable Economic Development.
By Christabel Ogechi Ifezie
1.0. CLIMATE ACTION STRATEGY FOR THE FUTURE.
The dynamism in global climate negotiations has triggered the passing of several legislation on climate change. To demonstrate this commitment at the global level, In November 2021, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (also referred to as “COP26”) was held in Glasgow, Scotland with over 100 States representatives from all over the world. During the COP26 Conference, it was agreed by every State Party that the ‘ratchet mechanism strategy’ will be executed every five years and countries will completely commit to ensuring the reduction of Green House Gases (GHG) emissions. With the adoption and rectification of the Glasglow Climate Pact by over 190 State Parties, this Pact now stands with prominence as the first climate agreement to expressly ensure the commitment of State Parties to the reduction and “phasing down” of the use of coal.
Bringing it home, Nigeria has not been left behind. A response was the Climate Change Act 2022 which was signed into law by the then President Muhammadu Buhari. At first glance, the purpose of the Act which comes to the fore – is to mainstream climate change actions into national programs and to provide a solid framework for the attainment of low carbon emissions. Moving on, the Nigerian Government, like other States have also implemented programs and policies towards reducing GHG emissions amongst others. In June 2022, Nigeria submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In the NDC, Nigeria committed to a conditional contribution of 47% on international support, and an unconditional contribution of 20% below business-as-usual by 2030. Nigeria also pledged to cut down its emissions to Net Zero by 2060. Thus, Nigeria as a party to the Paris Agreement is expected to transit from fossil fuel to clean energy and attain a Net Zero ambition for GHG emission. This paper discusses Nigeria’s climate action strategy, policies, and their role in achieving the proposed 2060 Net Zero target and sustainable economic development. It provides an overview of the Climate Change Act, international agreements, and initiatives like the Energy Transition Plan. The paper points out some shortcomings in policy implementation, lack of awareness, inadequate funding, and the challenges of being a climate change hotspot. It concludes by emphasizing the positive impact of policies on the energy sector and sustainable economic development, while acknowledging the need for further efforts to improve implementation and awareness.
2.0. CONCEPTUALIZATION OF TERMS
2.1. Climate Change
Section 35 of the Climate Change Act 2021 defines Climate Change to be a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable periods.
Generally, Climate Change refers to changes in the earth’s weather, including variations in temperature, rainfall, and wind pattern particularly the increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere caused by an increase of particular gases, especially carbon dioxide. Additionally, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as a change of climate that is attributable directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
3.0. LAWS AND POLICIES IMPLEMENTED TO FACILITATE CLIMATE ACTION STRATEGY
Various legislations have been enacted to ensure the fulfilment of the climate change goals, and some of these legislation will be discussed below:
3.1. National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act 2007.
The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act, (hereinafter referred to as the NESREA Act). It is the primary environmental legislation in Nigeria. It established the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Agency and became operational in 2007. Section 7 of the Act mandates the Agency to enforce compliance with the provisions of international agreements, protocols, conventions, and treaties on the environment. The Act is also concerned with the enforcement of the guidelines and legislations on sustainable management of the ecosystem, biodiversity, conservation, and the development of Nigeria’s natural resources.
3.2. The Climate Change Act
In 2021, Nigeria promulgated the Climate Change Act which is legislation that governs climate change at the national level. This legislation is the first comprehensive law on climate change in West Africa among few enacted regionally as well as globally. Thus, it is an effective instrument for the advocacy of climate change in Nigeria and a foundation for climate litigation. The Act provides a framework for mainstreaming climate change actions, provides for a system of carbon budgeting, and the establishment of the National Council on Climate Change. Section 1 of the Climate Change Act (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’) provides for the objectives of the Act which include: achieving low GHG emissions, inclusive green growth, and sustainable economic development by ensuring that Nigeria formulates programs to achieve its long-term goals; facilitating the coordination of climate change action required to achieve these goals; mainstreaming climate change actions in line with national development priorities; and so on. The aspirations contained in the NDCs are to be reflected and applied in these objectives by the Council.
The provisions of the Act apply to both private and public entities within Nigeria’s territorial jurisdiction and mandate implementation mechanisms on the part of both entities for the purpose of lowering carbon emissions. The Act also establishes the National Council on Climate Change and empowers the Council to coordinate climate actions nationally and administer the Climate Change Fund. The importance of the implementation of these provisions for the attainment of Net Zero, cannot be overemphasized. In line with this, case laws have also added flavour to the application of the Act in attaining national goals. In Gbemre v. Shell PDC, the Court held that oil companies must stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta because of the negative impact of gas flaring on the communities and on the environment as well.
Nigeria has initiated several Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) which reflect her commitment to the achievement of the United Nations’ agenda for climate action and protecting the planet. Examples of CDM initiatives include the SAVE80 fuel-efficient wood stove which aims to reduce the amount of wood needed in cooking by 80%, thereby slowing the rate of desertification in the northern region of the country. This initiative is one of the five approved CDM projects by the UNFCCC which includes: Recovery of Associates Gas at the Kwale Oil-Gas Processing Plant, Pan Ocean Gas Utilisation Project in Ovafe-Ogharafe, Asuokpu-Umutu Marginal Field Gas Recovery Facility owned by Platform Petroleum, and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Composting Project in Ikorodu owned by EarthCare Nigeria Limited.
The major objective of the Recovery of Associated Gas Project is to recover gas that would otherwise have been flared, and this involves the capture and utilisation of the majority of associated gas previously sent to flaring. This project would contribute to poverty alleviation and elimination of energy poverty by creating employment opportunities, fostering transfer of technology and sustainable development, and most importantly, providing reliable power supply and reducing carbon emissions. The Pan Ocean Gas Utilisation Project, a project embarked on in in Ovafe-Ogharafe in 2016 reduces carbon dioxide emissions by capturing associated gas from the field, processing it and injecting it into a pipeline for transport; in this way, the gas is utilised as a resource and not wasted. The project provides feasible ways to ensure long-term Greenhouse Gas emissions reduction in Nigeria.
These Clean Development Mechanisms allows countries such as Nigeria, with emission-reduction commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission-reduction project in their respective countries in line with Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol. Implementation of these Initiatives would go a long way in the realisation of Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, and fulfil its commitment to the reduction of carbon emissions and the achievement of sustainable development.
3.3. Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan
Flowing from the foregoing, it is imperative to examine Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan while appreciating its significance towards environmental sustainability. Thus, in August 2022, the Nigerian Government launched a new Energy Transition Plan, which seeks to utilize technology-driven approved to generate investment for energy transition, in line with the Carbon Neutrality goal by 2060. The major objective set out is to reduce emissions in the energy and oil and gas industry. The Plan has been approved by the Federal Government. Additionally, the Energy Transition Implementation Working Group (ETWG) headed by Prof. Yemi Osibanjo has been set up to streamline national energy relates initiatives to align with the energy transition plan and the Net Zero target by 2060, secure funding to kick-start the implementation of the Plan by 2023, and so on. This plan, if effectively executed, will strengthen Nigeria’s sustainable economic development and achieve its climate commitments.
3.4. National Policy on Climate Change Response And Strategy
Another policy which has contributed greatly to Nigeria’s Climate Action Strategy is the National Policy on Climate Change Response and Strategy. In June 2021, the National Policy on Climate Change Respond and Strategy was approved by the President of Nigeria. This policy was borne out of the desire of the Nigerian Government to create a platform; one that would foster the participation of citizens in climate change activities and act as a watchdog to supervise and monitor the steps taken for the actualization of a climate-positive environment. The policy is a strategic response that aims at fostering low carbon, development of a climate-resilient society, and better economic development by putting plans in place to achieve a carbon-neutral environment. The objective of this policy is majorly to build the socio-economic development of the country by ensuring the execution of national initiatives. To achieve the 2060 Net Zero target, the Policy can be implemented with a view to building capacity to monitor and manage climate change, fostering international cooperation in climate change, ensuring the mitigation of GHG emissions, encouraging participation of the private sector in the use of clean energy, and generating energy from various sources without increasing the GHG emission.
4.0. NIGERIA AS A CLIMATE CHANGE HOTSPOT AND ITS SLIPPERY ROAD TO NET ZERO TARGET: AN OVERVIEW.
In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made a report confirming that the failure of countries to reduce carbon emissions will result in an uncontrollable and irreversible increase in global temperature. This is a “code red” for humanity and the earth. In another report published in 2022, climate change which continues to worsen is overtly manifesting in the heat waves, droughts, flooding, wildfires, and hurricanes that are plaguing the world globally.
Moving further, a deeper study will bring to fore the following question : How far has Nigeria come in fulfilling its climate commitments? Nigeria’s journey to achieving zero emissions is indeed a slippery one riddled with obstacles and challenges which can be attributed to various factors. Highlighted below are factors hindering Nigeria’s NetZero Target.
4.1. Lack of Policy Implementation
Despite the fact that Nigeria has a plan to achieve its Net Zero target by 2060, there is insufficient implementation of the policies, particularly the Climate Change Act. For instance, Section 20 of the Climate Change Act provides for the formulation of an Action Plan every five years by the Secretariat, the Federal Ministries of Environment, and Budget and National Planning, as well as the setting up of the five-year carbon budget by the Ministry of Environment. However, this plan suffered a setback because the National Council on Climate Change was not established until after several months. This has, however, been rectified to some extent as the Council has begun work in earnest to ensure that Nigeria, among other things, achieves its Net Zero target.
4.2. Inadequate Data on the Net Zero Plans
The lack of information on the 2060 Net Zero Plans has thrown a wrench in Nigeria’s plan for its fulfilment. According to an examination conducted by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), Nigeria’s information on the Net Zero target did not adequately meet the provisions contained in its updated NDCs. The examination was conducted based on three targets – architecture, transparency, and scope. On the architectural target, the research revealed that: “Nigeria provides no information on its intention to communicate separate emission reduction and removal targets.” On the transparency target, the research states that Nigeria did not provide adequate information on its intention to communicate the plan to meet the Net Zero target transparently. The implication of this is that there is doubt as to whether Nigeria is ready to meet its conditions in tackling climate change issues. Thus, it is important for Nigeria to deliberately and consciously contribute its quota to combat climate efficiently change.
4.3. Lack of Funding
Nigeria has launched the Energy Transition Plan to achieve the Net Zero commitment by 2060. However, according to Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, the Plan requires about $1.9 trillion to attain the target. The Director General of the Debt Management Office reported that by May this year, Nigeria’s debt is projected to be N77 trillion ($171.2 billion). In light of this, it would be difficult for Nigeria to raise money to finance the energy transition to achieve Net Zero amidst the ongoing economic crisis. The Energy Transition Plan costing over $1 trillion may very well drain the Nigerian economy.
4.4. Low Awareness of Climate Change
According to a survey conducted by the Renewable Energy Technology Training Institute, only 30% of Nigerians are aware of climate change. A lack of public awareness of climate change would be a stumbling block to Nigeria’s actualization of the Net Zero target. Worthy of mention, however, is the fact that Part IV of the Climate Change Act states that “specific actions should be implemented toward the inclusion of climate change education into the educational curriculum.” This would go a long way to educate the public on climate change, and how they can do their part in ensuring a climate-positive environment.
5.0. LAWS AND POLICIES AS A TOOL FOR THE ACHIEVEMENT OF SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND THE 2060 NET ZERO TARGET.
Having discussed several policies, regulations, and legislations enacted to enable Nigeria to achieve its Net Zero ambition, it is imperative to address how effective these policies have been towards the fulfilment of the change commitment.
The enactment of the Climate Change Act has brought with it, many improvements to the energy sector, specifically as it relates to climate change. Section 19(1)(a) of the Climate Change Act mandates the Federal Ministry of Environment to in consultation with the Federal Ministry for National Planning set a carbon budget for Nigeria, to keep the global temperature within 2⁰C and to limit the temperature increase to 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial levels. They shall also state the budget and budgetary period and revise the carbon budget to ensure its compliance with Nigeria’s international obligations. Also, the Act in Section 20(1) gives the Secretariat and others, the duty of formulating an Action Plan every five years which will be published to the general public for consultation, and shall establish national goals on climate adaptation, prescribe measures for assessing risks of impact of climate change on vulnerable communities and ecosystems, make provisions for research and action on climate change mitigation, etc in order to achieve Nigeria’s climate change goal. The Act encourages the adoption of nature-based solutions for the reduction of GHG emissions and the mitigation of climate change issues in Nigeria. The approval and signing of this Act into law is a step in the right direction for Nigeria, particularly toward the accomplishment of the Net Zero target.
Furthermore, the implementation of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), – a World Bank project that seeks to resolve the Nigerian erosion crisis and land degradation in the Southern and Northern parts of Nigeria respectively on a multidimensional scale – plays a part in enhancing sustainable economic development in Nigeria. In 2019, Green Investments and Green Bonds were issued to help the Nigerian Government; and these bonds generated the sum of $41 million. The NEWMAP projects helped reduce GHG emissions around Nigeria. Innovative technology was also introduced to mitigate these emissions and the county’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Additionally, these policies would boost public education and awareness of climate change activities. In 2019, 185,000 local government officials and community members were trained in environmental awareness and management to develop their knowledge of water and conservation, sustainable farming, and climate change prevention. If this is executed nationwide, it would foster people’s awareness of climate change and Nigeria’s Net Zero ambition, as well as what can be done to achieve this target.
Also, the enactment of policies and establishment of national bodies to combat climate change and reduce the GHG effect can be a source of employment for Nigerians. For instance, 12 million Nigerians benefitted from the $900 million Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Project which strengthened the nation’s ability to fight climate change and natural disasters caused by the GHG effect. Also, the first Sovereign Green Bonds created 52,000 jobs in the sectors promoting climate management. Currently, 23 states of the Federation have adopted ingenious approaches for adaptive development based on community participation, further ensuring sustainable economic development in Nigeria.
Improper waste disposal contributes to the climate change crisis in Nigeria. Nigeria’s total greenhouse gas emissions are 492.44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) totalling 1.01% of global GHG emissions. This organic waste produces methane gas. According to a study conducted by Conserve Energy Future, methane gas is expelled during the decomposition of organic matter in unmanaged landfills like ammonia. Methane gases have the potential of trapping solar radiation 20 times more effectively than carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide has the capacity to trap solar radiation and high global warming potential 310 times higher than carbon dioxide. Effective regulations will prevent improper disposal of harmful waste, which would in turn reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable development. In this regard, the Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provisions, etc.) readily comes to the mind. This Act prohibits the carrying, deposition, dumping, or transfer of harmful waste on any land or territorial waters in Nigeria.
The enactment of these policies has made it possible for matters concerning climate change to be litigated where necessary. The Climate Change Act, for instance, provides penalties for non-compliance with its provisions on climate obligations. Thus, a person or organization who fails to comply with these obligations can be taken to Court for the enforcement of the duties. The Act also empowered the Federal or State High Court to make an order prohibiting the performance of any action which is harmful to the environment and compensation for victims who were directly affected by these harmful actions. The enactment of these Acts has paved the way for economic and environmental accounting and a push for a Net Zero emission target, and it is also Nigeria’s strong statement to the world on their understanding of and their stance on climate change and the Net Zero plan.
Following the COP26 Conference and Nigeria’s submission of the NDCs to the UNFCCC, various policies have been enacted on a national level to combat climate change and to actualize its Net Zero ambition. The preponderance of evidence depicts that these policies are a welcome development for the Nigerian Energy Sector, as they have led to sustainable national economic development. However, a lot needs to be done to improve public awareness of the Net Zero target, climate change, and GHG emissions, to ensure adequate implementation of these policies and to guarantee that these laws will be utilized to achieve Nigeria’s Net Zero Plans. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, the policies have aided Nigeria at achieving considerable success in the actualization of the Net Zero Target
In a nutshell, this study has made three recommendations which are:
• Strict implementation of laws and policies on Climate change so as to foster smooth energy transition in the Nigeria oil and gas industry.
• Creation of awareness on the importance of Climate Change mitigation to all citizens of Nigeria, particularly in rural areas.
• Promoting the use of renewable energy and nature based solutions as opposed to traditional burning of fossil fuel for energy generation. This would mitigate greenhouse gases and carbon emissions into the environment and aid Nigeria in actualising the NetZero Target.
Nigeria’s achievement of the NetZero Target by 2060 is a feasible goal/commitment which can only be actualised if there is a clearly defined plan on actions to be taken in that regard. The Government must take active steps where necessary to fulfil Nigeria’s commitment to its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs). Such steps must be carried out effectively and timeously to achieve desired results.
About the Author
Christabel Ogechi Ifezie is a value-driven 400 level law student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She has interests in Energy and Environmental Law, and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
This work is published under the free legal awareness project of Sabi Law Foundation (www.SabiLaw.org) funded by the law firm of Bezaleel Chambers International (www.BezaleelChambers.com). The writer was not paid or charged any publishing fee. You too can support the legal awareness projects and programs of Sabi Law Foundation by donating to us. Donate here and get our unique appreciation certificate or memento.
This publication is not a piece of legal advice. The opinion expressed in this publication is that of the author(s) and not necessarily the opinion of our organisation, staff and partners.
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