By Ajobiewe Tolulope
“If the United Nations climate negotiations are going to keep with climate change and the rate of technological innovation outside, they need to speed up – big time.”
Lately, there has been much ado on the subject (climate change); climate change is a threat to human survival and well-being, climate change endangers natural systems, climate change is this, climate change is that. These narratives and epistles undoubtedly are needed to create an atmosphere which allows for educating, enlightening, cautioning, charging and admonishing citizens on the dire importance of paying keen attention to climate change.
Also, in all of these epistles lies the truism that climate is changing and it is changing speedily yet unchecked.
Tomorrow’s journey might take decades, it is but an expedition into the future; aimed at saving the planet from ‘man’, this trip also, is that which has to be sustained by generations yet to come and more importantly, tomorrow’s journey has to start today.
All roads will be leading to Paris by December 2015, where the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be taking place. It promises to be the cynosure of all eyes, a spectacle for people across the world to laud this giant stride and its prospects.
At the conference, world leaders are expected to converge to stage in one accord a struggle and agree vehemently on the best practices which all parties would adopt to combat climate change. Again, this gathering of leaders and negotiators from across the world reminds one of the year 2000, when something similar happened.
Sheyi Babaeko in “MDGs and post-2015 agenda: Where are we?” described year 2000 as that time when world leaders gathered to unanimously draft and adopt a visionary agenda for the world tagged Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). How far Nigeria has gone in actualizing the goals of the MDGs is yet another point of call, although far from the nub of this piece.
However, it is important we remind ourselves these realities as we ply yet another route to being party to a global call to climate action,
Nonetheless, unlike the MDGs, COP 21 would see negotiators from all over the world come together to deliberate, reflect, argue, decide and make realizable plans on; how C02 emissions can be reduced, a total transition to renewable energy and also innovative financing mechanisms for climate change.
As Ban ki-moo rightly said that “The Sustainable Development Goals are people-centered and planet-sensitive. They are universal- applying to all countries while realizing different realities and capabilities”.
Therefore the trip to Paris is just the beginning, it is wake-up call for all nations, it is where inspiration ought to be drawn from, it should spark the drawing out of daggers for positive and physical action against climate change, and also, it should inform policy makers on the need to move beyond enthralling speeches, witty epistles, convincing sermons and homilies about climate change and act. ‘Yes, Act’.
Nigeria as always, is a signatory to several treaties, agreements and declarations, but often times than not, the implementation of the policies and instructions contained in these declarations is what is lacking. Time is of the essence, definite decisions has to be made, there is no time to skirt around issues and not decide on them, especially at this crucial point when lakes are drying up and a reduction in river flow in the arid and semi-arid region of the country.
Now is the time, Nigeria needs to draft an agenda which is realizable, feasible, time-bound yet sustainable.
Bill Hare of climate analytics posited that “It is clear that if the Paris meeting locks in present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2 degrees could essentially become infeasible, and 1.5°C beyond reach”. However, analysts believe that unless the UN climate talks agree to make sharper short term goals, we may risk soaring over the 2 degree mark.
An analysis culled from ‘Climate Analytics’ looked into 15 different national plans to cut emissions by 2030. These included the US, the EU and China, which together account for 51% of global emissions.
What they have found is that a recent trend for countries to submit emissions reductions targets for 2030 could inadvertently lead us down a dangerous path. They argue that this may in fact lock in recklessly high emissions until 2030, and that the UN urgently needs to step in and enforce a 2025 target that would allow countries to revise their emissions reductions plans.
Hence, toeing the right path to success would first be setting short term goals. Short term goals will unarguably put leaders on their toes, rather than mere campaign-like plans and declarations that are not realizable. Short term goals will cause full commitment and allow for the immediate submission of pledges to the United Nations just as other African countries have rightly done.
No doubt, it is important that Nigeria develops a concise master plan/framework aimed at a complete transition to renewable energy by 2050. On that note, I agree totally with the testaments of Odewale Abayomi when he articulated that “assessing progressions of climate change adaptation of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) every five years will keep consenting nations on their toes in finally reaching the milestone of carbon neutrality by 2050″.
As analysts suggest, this will require a concerted effort at the UN talks in December to ensure that the current levels of emissions reductions are not locked in until 2030, opening up a window for increased action in 2025. Therefore, it is expedient that Nigeria clothes her plans and pledges in short-term like approaches and strategies towards attaining the global goal of zero carbon emission by 2050.
To achieve that, I will strongly recommend among others that; Nigeria being the world’s largest importer of diesel and petrol generators, consider diversifying her energy sources for electricity generation, build, rehabilitate dilapidated power plants and decentralize energy generation and distribution to allow for efficiency. Only when this happens can it enact stringent laws and regulations inhibiting importation of petrol and diesel generating sets.
Also, transportation is yet another arena where carbon emission reign most supreme. To deal with this, the government should specially develop a blue print of how it intends to revamp the transportation sector.
Again, I will suggest upgrade of other transportation modes, particularly rail transport so much so that credence is given to its reliance, safety, durability and sustainability. Apart from that, an effective mass transportation network should be considered, when this happens, plans to reduce the number of automobiles on Nigerian roads (which is of dire necessity) will be a justifiable call.
As a budding environmentalist, I make bold to say that a keener, vigorous and purposeful pursuit of these short term goals will go a long way in this bid to save the planet from destruction. Therefore, as world leaders, negotiators, and policy makers gather in December to look at these plans, pledges and goals (short and long term alike), they should do so keeping in mind the complexities and uniqueness of how it applies to different countries.
When this is done, the desire to bequeath to generations yet unborn a safe, conducive and sustainable environment would be achievable.