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Agora Policy Calls For Urgent Action On Climate Change Mitigation In Nigeria

By Obiabin Onukwugha

Founder of Agora Policy, Mr. Waziri Adio, has called for urgent action to address climate change and energy transition issues in Nigeria, in order to avoid the country plunging into energy and climate change crisis.

Adio made the call in his wellcome address at a Policy Conversation titled “Nigeria, Climate Change and the Green Economy,” Organised by the body on Wednesday, at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, to mark its two years anniversary.

He said the event organised as part of preparations for the COP28, aims to contribute to raising the status and the depth of climate change discussion and action, and how to minimise the burdens and maximise the opportunities of climate change in Nigeria.

The Agora Policy Founder, regretted that despite that the country was already facing climate change realities such as rise in temperature, irregular raining patterns, near perennial flooding across the country, increasing threats of desertification and gully erosion, food insecurity, amongst others, the federal government of Nigeria still treats climate change issues with levity.

Adio said: “I do not intend to pre-empt the highlights of the report or the candid and robust deliberation that we are here for. But permit me to say a few things as a way of setting the stage. I will start with the obvious: climate change does not enjoy the prominence that it deserves in Nigeria. Yes, there are some individuals, organisations and government agencies that are making a strong case for and designing and implementing consequential climate interventions in the country. Some of them are here in this hall or are with us online. We salute them. We thank them.

“But the sad, inconvenient truth is that climate change still does not rank very high on our policy agenda and in our popular imagination. Both in official circles and among the populace, climate issues are not seen as really important and urgent. Our national attitude oscillates between denial and indifference.

“Most of our people, including highly-placed government officials, see climate change as other people’s problems or an issue that is only for tree-huggers and environmentalists, or something that should bother only those who have the luxury of not wrestling with hunger and other existential matters – as we say in Pidgin, “somtin for pipu wey don belleful.” Or because we are a people of fantastic faith, we simply think and believe that the negative impacts of climate change will never be our portion.

“But the burdens of shifts in climatic conditions are already our portion. They are all around us. The rise in temperature, the irregular raining patterns, the near perennial flooding across the country, the increasing threats of desertification and gully erosion and others already have deep, negative impacts on food production, food security and food inflation, and on water, on health and productivity, on energy and infrastructure, and on the conflicts that continue to multiply partly on account of vanishing natural resources.

“Whether we want to accept it or not, whether we think it is other people’s or our own headache or not, whether we think it is our portion or not—climate change is already exerting a big toll on the things we consider critical and urgent. It is already here and now, not a matter of hereafter. It is not what we can simply wish away by faith. And because of its multi-dimensional, ramifying nature and multiplier effects, climate change is the most existential threat we face already. And it is projected to get significantly worse within a few years. This silent crisis of today is likely to escalate into a catastrophic one soon—unless we act urgently, intentionally, and boldly.”

He said the call for urgency became imperative as Nigeria is bound to face energy and economic crisis as countries transit to green energy, saying Nigeria and Nigerians must adopt a multi-dimensional and sincere policy approach to tackle climate change.

“There are additional reasons for greater urgency. We are a resource-intensive but ironically energy-poor country. The global transition away from fossil fuels poses grave threats to government revenue at all levels and our capacity to provide the much-needed power for homes and industries.

“Our capacity to fight poverty and achieve the SDGs and to increase national productivity and competitiveness may be further compromised. That transition away from fossil fuels may appear paused for now in the aftermath of Russia-Ukraine war. But it won’t be paused for long. In a related but significant vein, the energy transition is creating a new economy, an intense scramble for critical minerals already spurning instability around us, and a strategic positioning by countries to ensure that their interests are well served in the emerging economic order.

“Where are we as a country in all of this? That’s a question for all of us to answer. But let me conclude by saying we cannot afford to be a bit player except we are content with holding the short end of the stick or to be further consigned to the margins of existence. We need to see climate change as the central development challenge for our country, not in the future, but today. And we need more than a conversation or the commitment of the converted. We need an all-of-society approach. From political authorisers to policy wonks to the ordinary persons on the streets and in the homes, we all have roles to play, and we all need to act differently.”

He used the medium to thank the Agora Policy Partners, which include; the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, the Cable Newspapers, the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), the Centre for Climate Change and Development (CCCD), Clean Technology Hub, and Nature News and the MacArthur Foundation, and others who made the event and the report a reality.

He added Agora Policy has within the two years of its establishment outsized profile in the think tank space in Nigeria with its series of policy papers, high-level events, and workshops on policy analysis and advocacy.

“Without the catalytic support from the MacArthur Foundation, this wouldn’t have been possible. We thank you for your faith, guidance and backing,” he added.

 

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