Africa needs special support as its contributions to global warming is insignificant
The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28) started at the weekend in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Nigeria is being represented at the highest level by President Bola Tinubu and a retinue of Ministers and other officials. Not unexpectedly, news from Dubai is that Nigeria has the highest delegation from Africa. According to the list published by the UNFCCC which details participants from all countries, Nigeria also ranks third overall in the number of delegates totalling 1,411—same with China. Many Nigerians are aghast by this waste of scarce public resources that is becoming increasingly symptomatic of the Tinubu administration.
Meanwhile, we are yet to take a definite position on Climate Change even when our country continues to be ravaged by multiple climate-induced extreme weather conditions, particularly flooding which annually claim hundreds of lives while displacing millions. This has been partly attributed to global warming, which affects both developing and developed countries. But unlike the former, the latter have the finance and technologies to cope with the consequences of nature’s rage.
It is noteworthy that at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) held in Nairobi in September, the signed pact was not different from the debt-for-climate swap deal proposition by former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Two years ago, Osinbajo had argued that “debt for climate swaps is a type of debt swap where bilateral or multilateral debt is forgiven by creditors in exchange for a commitment by the debtor to use the outstanding debt service payments for national climate action programmes.” With its theme of ‘Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World,’ the ACS was championed by Kenya’s President William Ruto, the African Union and other partners as a negotiating tool in COP28.
Specifically, the global target is to achieve net zero emission of carbon by 2050 with considerable reduction by 2030 to show that there is identifiable progression to the goal. In this direction, many countries have submitted their nationally determined contributions on what they intend to implement to reduce carbon emission and to ultimately stop the emission by 2050. These actions include stopping the burning of crude oil, coal, and gas to power their factories, and to stop manufacturing vehicles and power plants that use these fuels. The focus is on the use of renewable energy- solar, electric and wind, among others.
However, salient issues of equity remain unaddressed. The critical point is that the developed world is under pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for which we cannot be held responsible. This means reducing investment in fossil fuels (crude oil and coal) and speeding up the transition to green energy. But Africa, especially Nigeria, is yet to achieve progress in fossil fuel energy, let alone discussing transition to greener energy. The question therefore remains: should there be a transitional provision for African countries or should Africa leapfrog along to greener energy in the hope that we can reap the benefits while being stuck with our dirty fossil fuel dependent economies?
According to the World Resources Institute, Africa’s per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the year 2000 were 0.8 metric tonnes per person, compared with a global figure of 3.9 tonnes per person. In fact, the highest emitters in the G20 are responsible for around 80 per cent of global emissions, while Africa emits only 2–3 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industrial sources. This accounts for the strident calls for provision of support to Africa and other developing nations. We hope that the Nigerian delegations currently in Dubai will join other African countries to advance these ideas at COP28.