Buhari Talks Climate Change

•Asks council to formulate policies for green economy

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has identified climate change as one of the major challenges facing humanity. Buhari made this known yesterday at State House, Abuja, while inaugurating the National Council on Climate, shortly before presiding over the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

The president highlighted the losses and damages caused by the recent flooding in several parts of Nigeria, as well as other parts of the world, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and parts of East and Southern Africa.

He said, “Climate change is complex and dynamic; and requires multidimensional and multi-sectoral initiatives to address its impacts and avert its rapid advance.

“Updated data show increases in sea level rise, heat waves, wild fires, floods, desertification, drying wetlands and many more disruptive climate occurrences.

 “The latest Intergovernmental Panel on climate change report warns that rising Green House Gas emissions could soon outstrip the ability of communities to adapt, and the window for taking decisive steps needed to spare our planet from the gravest impacts of climate change is rapidly narrowing.

“We cannot ignore what is happening in our local environment. The increasing re-occurrence of floods in several parts of the country is a wakeup call.”

The president lamented the loss of lives, damage and destruction of infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, schools, and agricultural production.

Buhari reiterated the determination of his administration to strengthen national response to climate change and accelerate the implementation of decisive actions to reduce its impacts on the people and economy.

He said Nigeria was a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an established international treaty to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system,” in part, by stabilising Green House Gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Buhari explained, “It is against this background that in November 2021, after COP 26 in Glasgow, I signed the Nigeria Climate Change Act, despite noticeable implementation challenges inherent in the Act, to set the framework for mainstreaming climate change action, carbon budgeting and the establishment of the National Council on Climate Change.

“The council is tasked with the responsibility of formulating appropriate policies and other mechanisms for achieving low Green House Gas emissions, including green growth and sustainable economic development for Nigeria.

“In a clear demonstration of our commitments as enshrined in our Nationally Determined Contributions and the Net Zero-Target by 2060, I also approved, on 25th July 2022, the appointment of the Director General and Secretary for the National Council on Climate Change.

“It is imperative therefore that those lapses earlier alluded to – which includes the establishment of states and zonal offices creating a huge and costly bureaucracy is not acceptable.

“The Act also takes out the Commissioners of Environments from the states as members of Council, it also did not make transitional provisions capturing the work of the Inter-ministerial Working Group.

“This group was responsible for Energy Transition, the supervisory oversight of the Ministry of Environment and the establishment of an Executive Management structure at the secretariat level to support the DG in running the Council Secretariat.”

The president charged the National Council on Climate Change to formulate appropriate policies toward achieving green growth and sustainable economic development for Nigeria. He said the inauguration of the council marked the commencement of the implementation of the Climate Change Act 2021 and a new chapter in the renewed response to climate change in the country.

He also directed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to, in conjunction with the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, initiate appropriate amendments of “noticeable implementation challenges” inherent in the Act.

“Accordingly, I hereby direct the Attorney General and Minister of Justice in conjunction with the Minister of Environment to initiate the appropriate amendment to reflect these observations,” the president said.

Ahead of COP27 in Sharm El Shiekh, Egypt, Buhari expressed optimism that the National Council on Climate Change would harmonise all issues relating to Climate Change, Energy Transition Plan, Emissions Trading Scheme, and Carbon Trading Framework, in line with its mandate under the Act, so that Nigeria could have a robust and impactful outing that captures Nigeria’s climate change priorities.

He said the composition of the council was a reflection of the magnitude of the problem, “and the seriousness of our response,” adding that it comprises the highest level of governance and a representation of all key sectors of the economy.

Buhari appreciated Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for heading Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, presiding over the global launch of the plan, and initiating its marketing by engaging key stakeholders in the United States.

 He urged the council to consolidate on these first steps and ensure a sustained marketing of the plan.

Earlier in his speech, Abdullahi thanked the president for “walking the talk” on climate change at the international, regional, and national levels, demonstrating immense leadership towards Nigeria’s quest for net-zero by 2060.

The president chairs the National Council on Climate Change, with the vice president as vice chairman, and the chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a member.

Other members of the council include the ministers responsible for Environment, Petroleum Resources, Budget and National Planning, Justice, Mines and Steel Development, Finance, Agriculture and Rural Development, Power, Women Affairs, Transportation, and Water Resources.

On the council also are Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Security Adviser, President of Association Local Governments of Nigeria,  a representative of the private sector on climate change or environmental related matters (representative of National Conservation Foundation), a representative of National Council on Women Societies, a representative of National Youth Congress, and a representative of the civil society organisations.

Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change, Dr. Salisu Dahiru, will serve as Secretary.

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