By Ebitonye Akpodigha
Nigeria has signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, demonstrating her commitment to a global effort to reverse the effects of the negative trend.
The deal was signed on behalf of the Federal Government by President Muhammadu Buhari at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 71) in New York, USA on Thursday.
The President, while addressing the opening of the meeting on Taking Climate Action for Sustainable Development in New York, co-hosted by Nigeria and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said he was optimistic that with support from development partners, Nigeria will meet the targets in the agreement.
He said Nigeria was committed to reducing Green House Gas Emissions unconditionally by 20 per cent and conditionally by 45 per cent in line with Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions.
The President promised to ensure the ratification of the Paris Agreement before the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 2016.
He stressed that it was to demonstrate his personal dedication to the process of implementing the Agreement that he was hosting the side event on Taking Climate Action Towards Sustainable Development.
President Buhari, who said he was privileged to have been part of the Paris Agreement, expressed appreciation to what he called “the genuine efforts by President Francois Hollande of France in drawing global attention to reviving the Lake Chad Basin,” and for galvanizing the political will that led to the global consensus in reaching the Paris Agreement.
The Nigerian President said his country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement is articulated through its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) “that strive to build a climate resilient society across the diverse terrain of Nigeria. We have instituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change to govern implementation of my country’s NDCs, thereby ensuring a strong cross-sectoral approach, coherence and synergy for Climate Action.”
President Buhari, while admitting that implementing the Roadmap will not be easy in the face of dwindling national revenues, however, indicated that both internal and external resources would be mobilized to meet Nigeria’s targets, adding that the 2017 Budget will reflect Nigeria’s efforts to accord priority to realizing its NDCs.
“In addition, we are set to launch our first ever Green Bonds in the first quarter of 2017 to fund a pipeline of projects all targeted at reducing emissions towards a greener economy,” he said.
While urging global support to transit to a low-carbon climate resilient economy, the President specifically reminded industrialized nations “to play their role and deliver on their commitments on access to climate finance and technology transfer and help with capacity-building,” adding that, “Expectations are high for their leaders to deliver US$100 billion per year by 2020 in support of developing countries to take climate action, thus keeping the promise to billions of people.”
President Buhari, who thanked the Presidents of Chad, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger for attending the event, also called on the international community to “give special recognition to the plight of Lake Chad and support our effort to resuscitate the livelihoods of over 5 million people in the region. This will reinforce our efforts to reintegrate the thousands of Boko Haram victims and returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).”
The President noted that the Niger Delta region is a unique biodiversity rich in coastal environment that is highly prone to adverse environmental changes occasioned by climate change, such as sea level rise, coastal erosion, exacerbated by poverty and many decades of oil pollution leading to loss of livelihoods and ecosystems.
He added however, that “through an integrated approach, implementation of the NDCs, and our efforts to clean up Ogoniland, we will improve livelihoods, protect the environment and take climate action, and ensure the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”