Journalism in the service of society

Climate change and sustainability

ISSUES around climate change have dominated global conversations since the historic Paris Agreement reached by world leaders on December 12, 2015 at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris. The Agreement is an international treaty which became legally binding on November 4, 2016.

Since climate change poses a huge threat to our humanity, urgent action is required to mitigate its risks and negative impacts for a sustainable future. This perhaps explains why 195 Parties (194 States and the European Union) joined the Paris Agreement which set long-term goals to guide all nations as follows: reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, periodically assess the collective progress being made, and provide financing to developing countries to mitigate the impact of climate change, strengthen resilience and enhance abilities to adapt to climate impacts.

The United Nations and its agencies and partners (they include UNEP, UNFCCC, etc.), the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are huge resources to guide any study on climate change.

Generally speaking, climate change refers to “long-terms shifts in temperatures and weather patterns,” according to information available on the UN website. “But such shifts can be natural due to changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions,” the statement continued.

In Nigeria, we have experienced severe flooding, drought and extreme temperatures lately. These are the consequences of climate change. Other parts of the world are also experiencing the devastating impact of climate change in various dimensions.

The National Assembly passed the Climate Change Bill in 2021 and signed into law by former President Muhammadu Buhari. With this law, the expectation is that Nigeria will achieve net zero carbon emission between 2050 and 2070. To drive a coordinated action on climate change, the same act of parliament created the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC).

Last month, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu established a presidential committee on climate action and green economy. The initiative clearly underscores the need to strengthen our commitment to climate change, especially from the standpoint of accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy that are derived from natural sources such as the sun and wind.

The beauty of renewable energy is that they are constantly being replenished which guarantees a sustainable future.

UN Reports indicate that human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. When fossil fuels burn, they generate greenhouse gas emissions that cast a blanket around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.

The same Report says if we cannot keep global warming from rising above 1.5°C, then we are in real danger of being exposed to more heat from the sun. The solution is to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, cutting it by half within the next six years and achieving net zero emission by 2050. Whether these goals would be achieved is a matter of conjecture.

Fossil fuels, as studies have shown, are the biggest contributors to the global climate change crisis, and poses severe risks to all forms of life. For the record, the main greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide and methane. For a moment, just imagine the volume of carbon emissions from the cars on our roads and electricity generators in Nigeria. The result is catastrophic air pollution that endangers our health.

Clearing land and cutting down forests can also release carbon dioxide, according to UNEP reports. Agriculture, oil and gas operations are major sources of methane emissions. Energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use cause greenhouse gases.

Apart from the Paris Agreement, there are other global agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals (to make the world a better place by 2030) and the UN Convention on Climate Change to guide progress. However, an SDG Report in 2022 revealed that about two billion people worldwide don’t have access to safe drinking water. If we consider the effects of climate change and a growing population, it means that number is likely go up.

We must understand that climate change hazards do not occur in isolation because the Earth is a system – just like the human body – where everything is connected. It means changes in one area, according to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), can influence changes in others.

It is why the consequences of climate change now include, among others, threats to our health, intense droughts, water scarcity, severe fires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms and declining biodiversity. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) set up the IPCC in 1988.

In a self-made climate change manual, you should include and learn about the effects of climate change which varies depending on your region. You should also add sustainable solutions that include reducing carbon emissions, slowing the pace of global warming, and transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources.

The manual should note adaptation as a mitigation strategy that delivers economic benefits while also seeking climate justice in the sense that small island nations and developing countries must be supported financially. These countries have fewer resources to cope with the devastating effects of climate change.

When my associates at Climate Action Africa (CAA) decided to launch Climate Action Africa Forum (CAAF24), I took more than a passing interest in climate change and commenced a research on the intersection between climate action and sustainable development.

The executive director and co-founder of CAA, Grace Oluchi Mbah, is leading a team that is organising CAAF24 which is scheduled to hold from June 19 – 20, 2024 at Landmark Centre, Oniru, Lagos. Multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaborations are required to address pressing climate change challenges.

This was why CAA signed a partnership agreement with the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC) in Abuja about four months ago as part of a broader framework to catalyze the climate policy conference. This was followed by a world press conference in Abuja to announce CAAF24. Salisu Dahiru, the former director general of NCCC while speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, said the collaboration was a “pivotal step towards building a climate-resilient Nigeria.”

In her response, Mbah said Nigeria’s vulnerability to climate change necessitates immediate and collective action. “Through this partnership,” she said, “we aspire to harness the power of innovation, sustainable practices, policy dialogue, and community engagement to re-shape Nigeria’s future, and set a global example.”

Clearly, CAAF24 is a bold and innovative response to the climate change challenge in Africa. After the Abuja meeting, CAA received the backing of NCCC for the conference. CAAF24 will host a diverse group of influential thought leaders and environmental champions from the Africa Development Bank (Abidjan), Afrexim Bank (Cairo), World Bank (Washington DC), World Economic Forum (Geneva), and the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (Nairobi).

CAA’s mandate includes fostering climate-resilient communities, driving innovation and contributing to the expansion of Africa’s green economy.

The theme of the conference is, “Green Economy, Brighter Future: Innovating and Investing in Africa’s Climate Smart Development.” One of the keynote speakers is Ms. Ramatoulaye Diallo N’Diaye, a former minister of culture in Mali, and the founder/CEO of the Great Green Wall of Africa (GGWoA) Foundation with a mission and unwavering commitment to restoring African forests and reversing the ravaging effects of climate change in the continent.

The list of speakers also include Tokunbo Wahab, Honourable Commissioner for environment and water resources, Lagos State; Markus Wauschkuhn, Cluster Coordinator, Sustainable Economic Development Cluster of GIZ Nigeria and ECOWAS, and Gerald Esambe, Principal Officer, Climate and Green Growth Department at African Development Bank Group.

Others are Kingsley Uranta, General Manager at Channels TV; Bankole Michael from the Lagos State Climate Change department, Ms. Helen Brume, representing the President of Afrexim Bank; Edith Jibunoh, External and Corporate Relations (ECR) Manager for East and Southern Africa representing the World Bank; Olalekan Ogunleye, Executive Vice President, Gas, Power & New Energy, NNPC Ltd and others.

The organisers of the conference are worried about the impact of climate change in Africa. Mbah said the following themes would be explored with nuance by the speakers and facilitators: changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, air pollution, forced displacements, water scarcity, food insecurity, hunger and poor nutrition, desertification, declining GDP, and limited adaptive capacity.

According to her, CAAF is building a platform for Africa to lead the change in addressing global climate issues. With over 3,600 registered attendees, and more than 600 applications for its Deal Room and Workshops, CAAF24 is on track to be an unprecedented hub for climate action and sustainable energy transition in Africa.

CAAF Deal Room is a ground-breaking idea and strategic initiative that aims to connect high impact climate innovators in Africa with potential investors seeking to accelerate sustainable solutions. The objective of the Deal Room is to select finalists who would have the opportunity to pitch their ideas and solutions during CAAF24.

The deals will include prize money, equity, debt financing, mergers and acquisitions as well as other investment options. Those eligible to apply include venture capitalists, impact investors, climate-tech startups, Green SMEs, and not-for-profit organisations. Applications for the Deal Room opened on April 22, and closed on May 17, 2024.

It would be nice for the organisers of CAAF24 to extend an invitation to the new director general of NCCC, Dr. Nkiruka Maduekwe, as a special guest of honour. I am using this opportunity to congratulate the DG on her well-deserved appointment announced last Sunday.

Braimah is a global public relations consultant and marketing strategist. He is also the publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://ntm.ng) and Lagos Post (https://lagospost.ng), and can be reached via [email protected].

 

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