Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
Environmentalists from the Niger Delta region have called for conscious action from the federal government, multinationals and civil society organisations in addressing challenges to climate change on the region.
The environmentalists who identified end to oil exploration and exploitation in the Niger Delta as solution to climate change in the region, made the call yesterday, at the end of two-day conference on climate change, held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Delivering a paper titled, “Loss and Damage in the Context of Global Climate Justice Movement,” Executive Director, We The People, Mr. Ken Henshaw, stressed that losses and damages could only make sense when damages for the environment were paid and crude oil extraction brought to an end.
He said it was important that the Niger Delta people understood that in reality, loss and damages in climate change has both political and social issues, saying the window for solution was closing while the impact remains irreparable.
Henshaw, described ‘Loss and Damage’ as a Climate Change Concept that recognises the fact that communities that contributed the least to creating climate change were suffering tremendous impacts which they cannot mitigate and which they cannot adapt to.
He called on the Nigerian government and people of the Niger Delta to present a document to the UN Committee on Loss and Damages during the COP28 slated to hold in Dubai later this year, on the need to add the perculiar challenges faced by the region and other parts of the country, including flood, high sea levels, damage to farm lands, damage to artefacts, hunger, displacement of communities, amongst others.
On global funding for Climate Change, Henshaw reasoned that for the Loss and Damage fund to be effective, the root cause of climate change must be tackled simultaneously through reducing emissions.
“Unless emissions are drastically reduced, more and more countries will face the devastating effects of climate change and will fall into the categories of countries demanding for climate finance,” he stated.
Henshaw, accused oil multinationals of contributing huge sums of monies to the global funding of climate change while they continue to damage the environment.
He stated: “The intensity of climate change is a clear reflection of the intensity of fossil extraction and fossil fuel burning, the resultant effect, which is high sea levels which lead to floodings in communities. How do you mop the floor when the tap is still on.”
Also, the Executive Director, GIFSEF, Mr. David Michael, in his keynote address, called for a policy framework to address the challenges of the climate change.
Michael, who spoke on, “Towards a Regional Action Plan on Climate Change,” urged stakeholders to push for regional climate action plan.
He said this should be done through conceptualisation, capacity building, visualisation, transparency, co-production and cooperation.
Michael reasoned that effects of the climate change could be translated to opportunities in the region, pointing out that three pillars to such opportunities included: Policy framework, business and finance.
He added: “Climate change is not all about problems, opportunities abound”, he stated. He said potential gains of climate change included; carbon sink, carbon credit, tourism revenue, blue Economy, and biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.”
He, therefore, reiterated that stakeholders in the Niger Delta work through such bodies as the Niger Delta Governors’ Forum, Niger Delta Speakers Forum, Niger Delta Commissioners for Environment/Climate Change, Ministry of Niger Delta, NDDC and forum of CSOs to work towards achieving an action plan for ecosystem restoration in the region.
Earlier, the Convener of the Conference and Executive Director, Lekeh Development Foundation, Friday Barilule Nbani, stated that the conference with the theme: “Niger Delta Climate Change: Imperative for Action”, was a call for attention in addressing the impact of climate change on communities and people of the Niger Delta region.
He said: “With fossil fuels driving climate change and surely entering it’s last phase as a dominant energy source, the situation of the Niger Delta region requires urgent support for climate adaptation and mitigation.”