International

The COP26 Climate Test

By Edward Kallon

The climate crisis is a code red for humanity.

World leaders have gathered this week at the UN Climate Conference — known as COP26 — in Glasgow, Scotland. Their actions will show their seriousness about addressing this planetary emergency.

There are already early warning signs in Nigeria.

Two of the past five years – 2016 and 2019 – have been the hottest ever recorded in Nigeria. The trend is clear for all to see. We can expect more hot days, warm nights and heat waves.

Likewise, fluctuating patterns of rainfall have been responsible for extreme climate events like floods and droughts in many parts of the country. Nigeria’s environment and ecosystems, foundational to the nation’s economy, are under threat of destruction according to current climate impact projections.

Climate change, therefore, poses a threat to Nigeria’s hard-won economic gains and to its ambitions of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

But solutions are at hand.

A sustainable pathway to keeping temperature rises to below 1.5 degrees Celsius was outlined and agreed to at COP21 under the Paris Agreement. This target is entirely achievable.

If we can reduce global emissions by 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels this decade, and reach net-zero by 2050, we can do it.

World leaders need to step up and deliver in Glasgow – especially those of the G20 nations.

All countries need to realize that the old, carbon-burning model of development is fast becoming a relic of the past – and embrace a cleaner, greener future.

UN Nigeria hopes that COP26 will rekindle hope in multilateralism by keeping its climate promise to the Global South. The developed world must urgently meet its commitment of at least $100 billion in annual climate finance for developing countries.

But all countries need to contribute to humanity’s greatest challenge including Nigeria.

We greatly welcome His Excellency President Buhari’s commitment at COP26 to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land across Africa. This would be a huge step in the right direction for the Great Green Wall climate-adaptationinitiative across the Sahel.

The FAO is excited to deepen its partnership with the Government as it addresses desertification in the Northern states for this initiative. It has already carried out 2,240 Ha of dryland restoration activities across 15 communitiesthrough the planting of native woody and herbaceous fodder species.

In addition, we call on the Government of Nigeria to fulfill its obligations under the Paris Agreement which it ratified in 2017. This is the world’s blueprint for climate success.

The UN supports the Climate Change Bill which was passed by the Senate last month and by the House of Representatives in July. We hope His Excellency President Buhari will expeditiously assent to the Bill’s passage. This Bill will ensure the prompt implementation of key provisions of the Paris Agreement.

Furthermore, we urge Nigeria to continue on the path outlined by the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which embodies the Government’s efforts to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. If fully implemented, these efforts will pave the way for a low carbon economy and result in a50% reduction in Nigeria’s Green Gas House emissions.

The UN System in Nigeria will continue tosupport the Government with all its available resources and expertiseto drive the transformative change required to protect Nigeria’s environment and ecosystems through mitigation and adaptation measures.

UNDP, through its Small Grants Programme, has supported 112 ecosystem restoration initiatives across 20 states. An estimated 800,000 and 10,000 hectares of land have been protected and restored, respectively.

Through the ‘REDD+ Project’ in Cross River state, FAO have planted over 10,000 mangrove trees to regenerate degraded forests, established 15 different mangrove seedling nurseries, and developed a community mangrove management plan which allows the cutting of mangrove wood only in controlled areas.

The FAO is also helping rural communities move away from energy sources like firewood and charcoal by implementing the Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) approach which involves sustainable forestry management and fuel-efficient technologies.

On an individual level, every Nigerian can participate in solving the climate crisis by minimizing their carbon footprint and living a sustainable life. These can be achieved in numerous ways like reducing food waste, eating a plant-based diet, turning off lights at home, etc. The UN’s Act One app allows you to choose and track a set of sustainable habits and see the impact you are making in terms of CO2, water and electricity saved. Just search for ‘Act One’ on the app stores to startliving greener.

Finally, let’s join together in solidarity and encourage our global leaders to meet the moment this week at COP26 in Glasgow. One last push for a collective solution to this climate crisis is needed that will protect our people, our prosperity, and our planet.

Now is the time to act.

Edward Kallon is United Nations(UN) Resident Coordinator

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