Climate Change: Developing Countries More Vulnerable, Must Take Action- Reps Speaker, Abbas
Why governments, businesses, others must
The escalating climate crisis underscores the urgency of action that not only governments but also businesses, civil society organizations and every individual must take, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Abbas Tajudeen has said.
The Speaker noted that while systemic changes driven by governments and large corporations are essential for impactful mitigation, individual actions have a multifaceted importance in addressing the climate crisis.
Addressing the forum on Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) at the ongoing 9th P20 Summit and G20 Parliamentary Forum organized by the Parliament of India in collaboration with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), in New Delhi, India, Speaker Abbas said Nigeria, Africa’s most populous and diverse nation, faces specific challenges due to climate change.
The Speaker led the Nigerian delegation to the summit, which comprised the Deputy President of the Senate, Distinguished Senator Jibrin Barau and other lawmakers.
The event aims at bringing a parliamentary dimension to global governance, raising awareness, building political support for international commitments and ensure that these are effectively translated into national realities.
Speaker Abbas said: “Climate change impacts developing countries in various ways due to their greater vulnerabilities and lesser capacities to adapt…. In the northern part of the country (Nigeria), increasing desertification has negatively affected farming, while unpredictable rainfall patterns have affected crop yields in the southern parts.
“A direct consequence of this is an economic strain, given that agriculture is a significant sector of Nigeria’s economy. Coastal areas, especially around the Niger Delta, face an increased risk of flooding due to rising sea levels and changing rainfall patterns.
“More so, Nigeria relies on hydroelectric power for a significant portion of its electricity, and variability in river flows often affects energy availability. Given these challenges, it is crucial for Nigeria, as with many developing countries, to address mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation (preparing for and responding to the effects of climate change).”
He said parliamentarians could allocate funds for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts during the budget process, as well as hold governments accountable for their climate commitments and actions by effectively utilising the wide range of oversight tools and powers available to them.
“The 10th House of Representatives Committee on Renewable Energy oversees national strategies to counter the effects of climate change and ensure that laws pertaining to all aspects of climate change are adequate and implemented effectively. Nigeria is committed to transitioning from fossil-based energy to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydropower to ensure sustainability.”
Speaker Abbas added that parliaments could push for educational programmes and training on climate change at all levels, noting that Nigeria is reorganising its Ministry of Education to address climate-related issues within educational institutions adequately.
The Speaker recalled that the United Nations Environment Programme estimated that if one billion individuals out of the global population of eight billion were to embrace environmentally friendly lifestyles, global carbon emissions could decrease by approximately 20 percent.
He said this underscored the transformative power of individual actions to mitigate climate change, in light of which parliamentarians could play vital roles in the fight against climate change.
He said: “As elected representatives and policymakers, parliamentarians can play a crucial role in the fight against climate change. We have the power to influence, design, and implement measures that can mitigate the impacts of climate change and ensure a sustainable future.”
He lauded the LiFE initiative for its focus on encouraging the adoption of sustainable lifestyles to tackle the challenges of environmental degradation and climate change.
“The vital role that parliamentarians can play in supporting the ‘LiFE’ program is enormous and includes drafting, proposing and enacting legislation to regulate emissions, promote renewable energy and set environmental standards.”
Speaker Abbas informed the forum that Nigeria passed the Climate Change Act in 2021 to chart a path toward low greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable growth.
“This legislation established the National Council on Climate Change and is the first comprehensive climate change legislation in West Africa. Moreover, Nigeria recently submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Interim Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), demonstrating its commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 20 percent unconditionally and 45 percent with international support by 2030.”
He listed other intervention by the Nigerian National Assembly to include the enactment of the HYPPADEC Establishment Act in 2010, which led to the creation of the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission to address ecological challenges from the operations of Hydroelectric Dams.
He said the Nigerian government, in January this year, adopted new Methane Guidelines that include mandatory measures for oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, as well as the establishment of the Sovereign Green Bond Programme in 2017 following the Paris Agreement of 2015.
Other policies and activities of the Nigerian government to combat climate change, he said, included implementing rural electrification programs to extend access to clean energy in remote areas; sustained tree planting and reforestation endeavours to combat deforestation and rehabilitate ecosystems, among others.
“The National Assembly consistently allocates budgetary resources to support these initiatives, which can serve as exemplars for addressing environmental degradation. Legislative interventions have cascaded to the sub-national level, where state legislatures are enacting legislation to address waste management and recycling, fostering responsible consumption and waste reduction.”