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Climate Change on the Agenda
BY KAYODE KOMOLAFE
0805 500 1974
Environment is hardly a prominent issue in Nigerian politics. None of the more than a dozen political parties presenting presidential candidates in the next year’s election is a green party. No political party has ever made the issue of environment its battle cry. The passion for the environment is not quite evident in the Nigerian political culture.
Nothing, perhaps, demonstrates this low premium placed on the environment in politics and policy more than the poor management of the ecological funds by some state governments.
In a few days from now political parties and their candidates are expected to roll out their various agendas as solutions to the nation’s problems. Embodied in such agendas would be policy preferences on the economy, security, social sector, rule of law, the federal structure, public service etc.
More often than not, environment is often added as an adjunct in the process of policy conception and articulation.
Beyond the socio-economic and political policies contained in the various agendas, it is legitimate to ask questions about the ecological content of the manifestoes.
The basis of this central question of development should be obvious to politicians and their policy advisers. Environment should be conspicuous in any consideration of sustainable development. After all, the ultimate success of the socio-economic and political strategies of development depends primarily on the state of the habitat. For instance, the implementation of the programmes on industrialisation, agricultural revolution, energy sufficiency, privatisation, social sector and security is hinged on the impact of climate change. And global warming is linked to the climate change in a complex manner.
The lack of emphasis on the environment has persisted despite the fact that Nigeria is confronted with multi-dimensional environmental problems. The disasters in the environment also worsen the problems of poverty, food insecurity, physical security, collapse of infrastructure etc.
With desertification in the north, erosion in the east, environmental degradation in the Niger Delta and ocean surge in the coastal areas, Nigeria surely has its own share of global environmental problems.
Regardless of what happens to policy on the environment, floods, for instance, continue to wreak havoc in different parts of Nigeria. About a month ago, the Nigerian Metrological Agency predicted that some states would face huge risks of flooding and unusual level of rainfall before the end of the year. Among the states mentioned by the agency are states that are as geographically far apart as Bayelsa, Kaduna and Borno. This goes to show that the environmental disorder is a national headache. The metrological agency has also been monitoring the unusual rainfalls in different parts of the country. As predicted, floods have been reported in parts of the country with loss of lives and destruction of property. The agencies responsible for providing mitigation in moments of disaster have also been put on the alert. In fact, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has also warned that 233 local government areas in 32 states might be prone to flooding. These are predictions that are scientifically grounded and should be taken seriously by all tiers of government.
Watching the footages of flood disaster in Pakistan in recent days should compel the government and members of the public to heed the warnings here and take safety steps in the event of disaster. About a third of the land mass of Pakistan was under water with more than 1, 400 lives lost including those of about 500 children. Millions of people have been displaced. It is estimated that the disaster could cost the Asian country $10 billion.
Doubtless, environmental problems constitute a central issue of development that should be a priority of policy.
Only yesterday, the World Metrological Organisation (WMO) reported that the clear message of Climate science is that the world is “heading in the wrong direction.” The latest report has established “ a huge gap between aspirations and reality.”
The climate change discussion is certainly fraught with enormous contradictions.
A pointer to this fact is that since the global energy crisis triggered by the Russo-Ukraine war, the enthusiasm for decarbonisation has become somewhat diminished. Some developed countries that are largely responsible for carbon emission are now frantically seeking sources of fossil fuel, which is implicated in global warming.
Yet the report of Climate Science contains the following grim picture of things globally: “…Greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs. Fossil fuel emission rates are now above pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to lockdowns. The ambition of emissions reduction pledges for 2030 needs to be seven times higher to be in line with the 1.5 °C goal of the Paris Agreement.
“The past seven years were the warmest on record. There is a 48% chance that, during at least one year in the next 5 years, the annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5°C higher than 1850-1900 average. As global warming increases, “tipping points” in the climate system can not be ruled out.
“Cities that host billions of people and are responsible for up to 70% of human-caused emissions will face increasing socio-economic impacts. The most vulnerable populations will suffer most, says the report which gives examples of extreme weather in different parts of the world this year.
“Floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with alarming frequency. Heatwaves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan. Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States.”
United Nations Secretary -General António Guterres has put the problem in the following perspective: “There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction.
“Climate science is increasingly able to show that many of the extreme weather events that we are experiencing have become more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change. We have seen this repeatedly this year, with tragic effect.”
The implication of the foregoing for those aspiring to be in charge of governance at all levels is that the environment component is the sine qua non
for a sustainable strategy of development.
And that is not to say that it is an easy task formulating a national environment policy in the circumstance. Environment policy is not only a scientific exercise. It also has other dimensions. The economics, politics and sociology of the issues of environment are quite complex. There are even historical factors to be duly considered.
Furthermore, on all these dimensions of the problem experts hold divergent views.
There are scientists who still deny climate change. Nothing is certain about the science of climate change, according to some experts. Meanwhile, the environment impinges on energy policies. All these make matters more complicated for policy makers.
Nigeria is, of course, part of the global negotiations for the reduction of carbon emissions. Like other countries with legitimate aspiration for industrialisation, Nigeria should continue to push for justice in the global transition to renewable energy meant to reduce the risk of global warming. In fact, Nigeria should be a regional champion for this legitimate cause at the global arena. The countries which are the main polluters of our common habitat should bear the cost of decarbonisation as proposed in the global agreement.
A solid national policy is, however, required to make adequate impact in the global politics of environment.
While environmental disasters respect no national boundary, it is still the responsibility of each nation to tackle issues of the environment within its territory with effective policies.
That’s why it is important for political parties and their candidates to be clear-headed in formulating and articulating their environment policies.
For Double Chief
Accomplished journalist Duro Onabule, who died at 83 on August 16, 2022 , will be buried in Ijebu-Ode on Friday after a Christian wake tomorrow. Today, an evening of tributes will be held in his memory at Muson Centre in Lagos.
The story of how Onabule, the Jagunmolu of Ijebuland, came about the sobriquet, Double Chief, is an interesting one. He was the editor of National Concord when General Ibrahim Babangida came to power in a military coup in 1985. The military president appointed Onabule as his Chief Press Secretary. Meanwhile Onabule was already a chief appointed by the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona. So he was a Chief of Ijebuland as well as Chief Press Secretary to the President. His boss, Babangida, decided to simply call him ”Double Chief.”
After almost 30 years that he ceased being chief press secretary, not a few of his colleagues and friends continued to call Onabule Double Chief.
Chief Onabule was as passionate about quality journalism as he was about his Ijebu heritage.
He maintained his newspaper column in The Sun till his last days on earth. He was always critical of journalistic errors and ethical infractions.
Onabule always expressed concerns about the future of his profession. He was also a senior journalist at the Daily Times.
Onabule enjoyed arguments, ever supporting his point of view with rich historical insights. He could disagree with you sharply without a bile.
Onabule was a convinced Zikist, an ardent follower of the first president of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
A broad-minded personality, Onabule’s political outlook was consistently national.
The veteran journalist was also a proud Ijebu man. He held the Awujale in so much reverence and spoke about the dignity of the monarch with a flourish.
We offer our deepest condolences to his family.