Ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, the President-Designate, Alok Sharma MP, recently visited Nigeria to discuss the United Kingdom’s collaborative partnership on adaptation and action to avert climate damage. Chiemelie Ezeobi reports
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Wikipedia posits that though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century, humans have had unprecedented impact on earth’s climate system and caused change on a global scale.
Essentially, the environmental effects of climate change are broad and far-reaching, affecting oceans, ice, and weather as has been repeatedly witnessed through earthquakes, typhoons, flooding, hurricane, snow storms, wildfires and even change in weather conditions.
Recently, as part of measures to address the looming dangers of climate change, ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties
(COP26), President-Designate visited Nigeria to underline the importance of UK-Nigeria collaboration on adaptation and action to avert climate damage.
Visit to Nigeria
It was as part of moves to collaborate to tackle such climate change challenges that the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) President-Designate, Alok Sharma MP, visited Nigeria to discuss how the United Kingdom can work with Nigeria to address its climate change challenges.
In his first visit to Nigeria as President-Designate, Sharma met leaders from government, the private sector and civil society, stressing the need for urgent climate change action ahead of the UK-hosted COP26 Summit in November in Glasgow. This is because COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
According to reports, Sharma’s visit to Nigeria was part of a series of engagements between the UK and Nigeria, and his visit demonstrated continued cooperation ahead of COP26.
During the visit, he held high-level talks with H.E. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; met with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmood; the Minister of state for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor and the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed. While in Abuja, he also met Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.
He also attended a reception at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Abuja where he met young environmental activists working to raise awareness about the risks of climate change and to build support for climate action in Nigeria. Mr Sharma also met H.E. Mr Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State and current Chair of the Governors’ Forum; the Honourable Samuel Onuigbo, President of Globe Nigeria; and Ms Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UNSG for Sustainable Energy and Co-Chair of UN Energy.
With the understanding that Nigeria’s urban areas are at risk from climate change impacts such as flooding, Sharma underlined the UK’s commitment to championing action to avert, minimise and address the loss and damage suffered by such communities vulnerable to climate change.
He also welcomed recent climate-positive steps Nigeria has taken interms of progress on electricity sector reforms and the removal of the fuel subsidy; incorporating the solar home systems into Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan; signing up to the Global Ocean Alliance, the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, ratifying the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol and enabling the Amendment come into force; and participating in the COP26 Energy Transition Council.
During the high level meetings he held, Sharma discussed how Nigeria could position itself as a climate leader at COP26. In his suggestions, he charged Nigeria good to submit a more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) by April 2021 with strengthened mitigation and adaptation measures; issue more green bonds; submit a Long-Term Strategy ahead of COP26, setting out a low-carbon pathway to net zero; and consider making political commitments before COP26 on the COP26 campaigns on adaption – by Issuing an Adaptation Plan including funding needs and then Energy transition – by progressing the ongrid solar deals.
At the end of his visit, the COP26 President-Designate noted that as “the incoming COP Presidency, the UK takes its role seriously and seeks to raise ambition to tackle climate change globally. I’ve come here to meet your political and civil society leaders to discuss and see first-hand some of the many climate change vulnerabilities Nigeria faces.
“These include deforestation, rising temperatures and flooding, as well as the need to transition from oil to cleaner energies that will sustainably serve what is projected to be the world’s third most populous country by 2050.
“I commend President Buhari for the steps he has committed to taking towards collective and sustainable efforts that will put climate change, biodiversity and nature based solutions first, and will enhance all Nigerians’ prosperity, health and security”.
Also speaking, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said: “Climate change remains a global concern that requires collective efforts, and this visit underlines the UK’s support for Nigeria in its battle against climate change, while highlighting some of the important work we have already done together to protect livelihoods, lives and the planet.
“This is an all of society approach to meeting the most demanding challenges of our time and I am glad the COP26 President-Designate took the time to shine a spotlight and raise the profile of young activists and entrepreneurs he met during this trip, emphasising the holistic approach of COP26.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Minister for the Environment, Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, while welcoming Sharma, said also welcomed is the UK’s leadership on this critical global agenda, adding that as they look forward to its hosting a COP26 this November, that firmly recognises the particular needs and circumstances of Nigeria’s and Africa’s climate change challenges.
“We look forward to the continued support of the UK as we rise to meet those challenges in ways that protect the environment whilst also supporting economic growth and long term stability and prosperity,” he added.
For social entrepreneur and Climate Change activist, Rita Idehai of Nigeria4Nature, “Nigeria’s climate change challenges are vast and we all need to work together, civil society, politicians, and the general public alongside the global community to do all that we can to effectively address these challenges and build a better future for Nigeria today and for Nigeria tomorrow.”
Summarily, the UK government, in a press release issued by the the Press and Public Affairs Officer | British Deputy High Commission, Lagos, Ndidiamaka Eze, said Sharma’s visit followed high level climate change meetings last year, including President Muhammadu Buhari’s meeting with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, UK Minister Kwasi Kwarteng’s meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr Sharma’s meeting with the Minister of Environment Mohammad Mahmood , and Marc Palahi, Director of the European Forestry Institute.
She said: “This year, the UK will host the UN climate change conference COP26, in Glasgow with our partners, Italy. This will provide an opportunity for the world to come together and commit to urgent action. Some of the environmental activists and CSOs the CPD met include Africa Nature Investors Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society Nigeria, SustyVibes, Resilient 40, Fridays4Future Nigeria, Green Habitat Initiative, Hobeei Initiative and the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) in Nigeria.
“The UK is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire action ahead of COP26.
“The UK has programmes supporting energy transition and lower carbon in the electricity industry, lower carbon and more resilient infrastructure, programmes in Northern Nigeria working on adaptation including clean cookstoves and climate smart agriculture and is supporting the 5m solar homes initiative and commercial minigrids. The UK is working on sustainable forestry in Edo State and also supporting Nigeria with the revision of its enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution.”