SDG#13: Climate Action: Nigeria's Progress Report

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HomePublicationsSDG#13: Climate Action: Nigeria's Progress Report
On December 12, 2015 during a United Nations-sponsored meeting in Paris, COP21, Nigeria joined 194 other countries to make a historic pledge to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  What was later dubbed the 'Paris Agreement' provides a comprehensive framework for stabilizing planet Earth's climate and preventing the atmosphere from heating above a global warming tipping-point of two degrees Celsius. In other words, it offered global policy leaders, experts and other stakeholders a how-to-do-it document to save the planet from ecological doom.

buhariFour months later, in April 2016, most of these countries put a seal to their pledges by signing the Paris Agreement at the UN Headquarters in New York. Nigeria did not sign the document until the 22nd of September 2016, and on the 28th of March 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Instrument of Ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at State House Abuja.

However, Nigeria is conspicuously missing from the list of countries that had fully paid their 2017 contributions by the 1st of January 2017, as required by the agreed financial policy that supports the crucial work of the UN climate body. The delay in ratification of the Paris Agreement and payment of her 2017 financial obligations for the UN climate body efforts puts a huge question mark over Nigeria's full commitment to the global climate action deal.

Ranked amongst the top 25 Green-House Gas (GHG) Emitting Countries and considered vulnerable to the impact of climate change, Nigeria ought to be a front-runner in the race to save the planet from climate change calamity. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are projected to grow 114 per cent by 2030 to around 900 million tonnes – approximately 3.4 tonnes for every Nigerian. As a top polluter, Nigeria is expected to implement measures to reach the target of 20 percent unconditional greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2020, scale another target of 30 percent unconditional reduction by 2030 and to also put in place policies that reach the goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Thus, despite its late start, and beyond the submission of pledges known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), Nigeria's federal government has committed itself to mobilize funds and to channel efforts by governmental and non-governmental actors towards meeting its Climate Action targets.

Targets of the Climate Action deal

The Climate Action agreement requires Nigeria and her development partners to collaborate with relevant stakeholders and individuals to urgently undertake planned actions, projects and programmes as captured in its INDCs to combat climate change and its impact across the country.

To achieve the targets set by the Climate Action's SDG-13, Nigeria, like other signatories to the Paris Agreement, is expected to:

  1. Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
  2. Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  3. Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  4. Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible
  5. Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small-Island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities.

How has Nigeria fared so far in this historic race to save the planet? To what extent has the Nigerian government been able to mobilize personnel and material resources to achieve these targets?  Will Nigeria be able to meet the targets set under the Climate Action's SDG-13 by 2030?

This report takes a look at the progress recorded so far, and considers the prospects and the problems facing full compliance.

Climate change policy framework

Nigeria is yet to enact a specific climate change law that can provide a legal framework and enabling environment for the implementation of its climate action agenda. Despite repeated calls from stakeholders for the establishment of a National Climate Change Commission that will coordinate climate issues in Nigeria, a Bill to establish the Commission is yet to be presented to the National Assembly.

Although, the Federal Executive Council adopted a comprehensive strategy policy on climate change, the 'Nigeria Climate Change Policy Response and Strategy' in 2012, together with several environmental and sectoral policies, strategies, and plans where climate change adaptation could apply, experts say their application is limited by the lack of the required legislation.

According to Climate Scorecard, a non-profit organization that operates an interactive site where concerned parties can participate in post-Paris Agreement efforts to reduce emissions in the 25 top greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting countries, the lack of an enabling climate change law in Nigeria could hamper the country's climate change adaptation targets.

However, stakeholders are optimistic that the country's National Policy on Environment framework will guide its efforts to deal with the ever-growing environmental challenges if well implemented. Through the policy, Nigeria could foster sustainable development by means of national initiatives that strengthen the country's strategies on climate change preparedness, adaptation and mitigation across all sectors of society, including vulnerable groups.

The Federal Government took a crucial step when it established the Department of Climate Change, under the Federal Ministry of Environment to handle Nigeria's climate change issues. It also set up the National Climate Change Trust Fund (NCCTF) and the Environmental Sustainability Group (ESG) to design and attract financing mechanisms for adaptation initiatives.

Nonetheless, the challenge remains how the government can effectively address the country's increasing environmental and climate change challenges. The findings of this study show that Nigeria is still bedevilled by numerous issues that must be tackled before the country can make the desired progress towards meeting its Climate Action 2030 targets. The following major challenges remain:

Climate change adaptation

The 2016 Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) classifies Nigeria as one of the ten most vulnerable countries in the world. The report published by the UK-based risk assessment company, Maplecroft, describes Nigeria as a country with "high risk in the southern part and extreme risk in the North".  It warns that climate change could result in a loss of between 6 percent and 30 percent of GDP by 2050, worth an estimated US$100-460 billion.  If no adaptation is implemented, Nigeria could lose an estimated 2-11 percent of its GDP by 2020, thereby hampering the national development goal of becoming one of the top 20 economies in the world.benoit

Although, the impact of climate change in Nigeria varies in extent, severity and intensity, with the North-eastern part of the country being the most vulnerable and the South-east the least, the country remains in the eye of the climate change storm. Recent studies confirm that climate change poses a significant threat to Nigeria's ambitious development goals, with the effects increasingly being felt in the economic sectors and areas of agriculture and food security, water, floods and drought, soil erosion, sea level rise, energy, tourism, and ecosystems.

Overcoming the development challenge of climate change requires that the Federal, States and Local Governments, as well as the private sector, take part in extensive adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce vulnerability to future climate change. Official policy statements indicate that the Federal Government will develop and implement a National Strategic Road Map for Responding to Climate Change in Nigeria and/or a National Climate Change Response Programme; domesticate the globally-agreed climate change regime of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including but not limited to the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the Paris Agreement, and will participate effectively and on a continuous basis in global climate change negotiations.

The Federal Government has also expressed its readiness to implement the National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy (NCCPRS) and the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change Nigeria (NASPA-CCN 2011), and to develop and implement an Integrated Financial Strategy for Climate Change Response (IFSCCR). The NASPA-CCN 2011 document identifies a set of 13 sector-specific strategies, policies, programmes and measures for the country's climate change adaptation priorities.

Nigeria has also pledged to mainstream climate change into all sectors of the national economy, promote evidence-based research in climate change and raise awareness on climate change mitigation and adaptation opportunities among stakeholders at all levels, and to strengthen its national climate change institutional structure and governance to include active participation by the States and the Local Governments.

Mitigation strategy

Nigeria's INDC includes an unconditional contribution to reduce GHG emissions by 20 per cent below business as usual projections by 2030, and a conditional contribution of 45 per cent, based on commitment of international support. To achieve this target, Nigeria must implement policies and projects that will reduce GHG emissions in five sectors.

In the energy sector, for instance, Nigeria must invest more in renewable energy, especially decentralized or off-grid power solutions, multi-cycle power stations, scalable power stations of 20-50 megawatts (MW) and enforcement of energy efficiency of 2 per cent per year and 30 per cent by 2030. Nigeria's National Renewable Energy Action Plan sets out how renewable energy is expected to develop and expand in order to achieve the national target of 23 per cent and 31per cent renewable energy in 2020 and 2030 respectively.

It should also be noted that so far, Nigeria has performed poorly in global renewable energy transfers.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is working towards establishing a system of feed-in tariffs in electricity, as well as other incentives to ensure that the country's ambitions for renewable energy are supported and have the required investment. Nigeria is also exploring the Green Funds option supported by Green Bonds to help fund the expansion of renewable energy in the country.

Deforestation, the second largest contributor to global warming also must be tackled. Although Nigeria may not have the financial resources or sophisticated technology to mitigate climate change, the country is endowed with a mosaic of natural ecosystems that have the capacity for carbon sequestration.  Experts advocate the aggressive implementation of policies, programmes and projects that will scale down emissions from deforestation and environmental degradation in the country.

Fortunately the Federal Government has made provision for forest regeneration in the 2017 Budget.  Notable in this regard is the planned establishment of 10 hectares of Acacia-Senegal in Zamfara State to increase forest cover and mitigate the effects of drought and climate change in the state.

The country will also switch to natural gas rather than fossil fuels, enact and enforce laws or regulations that will end gas flaring in the country, and pursue aggressive climate-smart agriculture and reforestation. The use of charcoal as domestic cooking fuel will need to be phased out, while Nigeria will also adopt green technology in industry and energy-friendly infrastructure and transport systems.

Climate change advocacy

A recent climate change awareness survey conducted by British World Service Trust shows that most Nigerians are not aware of climate change, despite its impact on their day-to-day activities, and that little or no attention has been paid to alarming changes in weather patterns such as excessive flooding, increased aridity and intense the desert encroachment witnessed in northern Nigeria, the drying of Lake Chad and dwindling flow of the Niger Basin and other major waterways with the attendant poor agricultural yield, communal clashes over natural resource management and siltation of river basins.

It has also been observed that national efforts to address environmental issues have not been broad-based or wide-reaching enough.  Access to timely and accurate information on the environment is still restricted, while little progress has been made towards inclusive implementation of the country's INDC at all levels.

The importance of environmental education and public awareness in creating a broad-based environmental management involving many and varied stakeholders cannot be over-emphasized.  There is already some collaboration among relevant government institutions and agencies, state governments, the private sector, civil society and the general public towards implementation of the Federal Government's climate action initiatives, but there is plenty of scope for improvement.  The government has embarked on States-wide Climate Change Knowledge Immersion workshops as part of the efforts to sensitize and mobilize stakeholders to this end.

ibrahimNigeria's former Environment Minister Amina Mohammed explained that the workshops which focused on "Accelerating Climate-Resilient and Low-Carbon Development," were a call to action which would go a long way towards ensuring knowledge delivery and experience sharing. They would enable knowledge dissemination and set out the role to be played by various stakeholders in implementing sectoral and multi-sectoral climate actions to accelerate climate-resilient and low-carbon development across the country.

Mohammed said that the Nigerian government was committed to empowering the Nigerian people to participate in taking climate action and protecting the environment:

"This commitment is also reflected in the sector-wide implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) using a participatory approach to accelerate resilience and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

Such enlightenment campaigns are expected to facilitate the implementation of climate change adaptation strategies and mobilize stakeholders and citizens to work to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Nigeria's climate change funding

According to recent estimates by the World Bank Group, Nigeria requires about $140billion to achieve its climate action goals and meet its NDC targets by 2030. That means the country needs to spend about $10 billion or about N3 trillion annually for the next 14 years to achieve low carbon-growth and stand a better chance of meeting its targets. The funds are needed for massive investments in clean energy, environmentally friendly infrastructure, agriculture and large scale remediation, and to create green jobs for the country's young population.

With the implementation of Nigeria's INDC formally commencing this year, the Federal Government is working to mobilize the necessary resources for climate friendly projects.  The sum of N8 billion has already been earmarked for implementation of the country's NDCs on climate change in the 2017 Appropriation Bill. According the Director of the Department of Climate Change, Dr Peter Tarfa, that sum will be dedicated to climate change efforts and projects that cut across the government's Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as part of efforts to achieve the set goals of reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent by the year 2030.

However, experts insist government funding alone cannot meet the kind of investment the country needs to meet its climate action targets.  The World Bank's Practice Manager for Environment and Natural Resources, Benoit Bosquet, advises that Nigeria's best chance of raising the capital needed to meet the country's climate change commitments and control its impact on the country is to quickly mobilize private sector funding and participation.

In February 2017, the Federal Government started its plan to raise money from the private sector for its climate change action programme by becoming the third country after France and Poland to float Green Bonds. Nigeria's Green Bonds offering, the first of its kind in Africa, is a partnership initiative between the Federal Ministry of Environment and the Nigerian Stock Exchange.  It aims to mobilize about $2 billion (N700 billion) in private capital investments for green technology, sustainable agriculture and the environment in the country.

Minister of State for the Environment, Ibrahim Jubril, explained that Green Bonds are designed to help Nigeria overcome the challenge of accessing international funding for climate-friendly projects for the priority sectors of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) sector road-maps, which are targeted at reducing average global carbon emissions to two degrees Celsius: "Once we have people who are willing to invest in programmes or projects that will assist in mitigation of climate change, the Bonds will go a long way to assist us."

Justine Leigh Bell, Climate Bonds' global Director of Market Development said that Green Bonds are crucial in helping a country like Nigeria meet its climate change targets.

Nigeria will also be looking to tap into the $8.3 billion Climate Investment Fund (CIF) to develop clean technology, sustainable management of forests, renewable energy access and climate resilient development.

Several other funding schemes such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), have been adapted globally to support climate change mitigation and adaptation. However, Nigeria is barely able to benefit from these global resources due to a number of factors such as stringent CDM funding guidelines and inadequate private sector engagement in climate change programmes.

Factors militating against Nigeria's mitigation efforts

Poor management of natural resources: Nigeria is yet to find ways to tackle environment-unfriendly practices such as large-scale deforestation and land clearing, inappropriate and illegal mining, excessive irrigation, water supply, inappropriate use of agrochemicals and inorganic fertilizers, uncontrolled and poor livestock farming practices and gas flaring. Chief Phillip Asiodu, President of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) noted that Nigeria has lost about 30 percent of its forest cover from 1960 to date, due to deforestation and habitat degrading activities such as forest clearance for farmlands, logging and unsuitable land use practices.

He said that at independence, Nigeria had about 35 percent forest cover, but today, the figure is less than five percent. He added that Nigeria must devote more energy on advocacy while supporting massive tree planting initiatives throughout the country.

Lack of environmentally friendly technology: Recent studies show that one of the major challenges facing Nigeria as a developing country remains its poor attitude towards adoption and use of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) in its development policies, programmes and projects. The country's natural resources exploitation, energy consumption, production processes, infrastructural development and transport systems still rely heavily on technologies that contribute to environmental pollution, create solid and electronic waste and habitat degradation.

Land degradation and desertification: Severe land degradation continues to ravage the country, resulting in a drastic reduction in the productivity of land resources. Reducing the rate and severity of desertification and reversing land degradation remain a key challenge for environmental sustainability and sustainable development in Nigeria.

Pollution: Pollution continues to be a major environmental challenge in the country, with a significant impact on the well-being of the country's environment and the health of its people.

Urban decay: Nigeria ranks among the most urbanized countries in the world with the rate about 56 per cent in 2015. The pace of urbanization increase has been such that maintenance of modest environmental standards has inevitably lagged behind.

Coastal management: Nigeria's coastal region suffers degradation from diverse human activities, particularly oil exploration and exploitation, agricultural and industrial development.  Efforts to address critical environmental problems in the country's coastal areas and marine environment have mainly been lethargic.

Weak environmental governance: Weak and fragmented environmental governance remains a major bane of environmental sustainability in the country. Many of the institutions dealing with environmental issues have weak capacity. They are too under-funded and ineffective in their core functions to have a meaningful effect on environmental sustainability.

Private sector participation: Nigeria's efforts to address climate change still suffer from low participation by the private sector, which– as a major player in market forces – must be fully involved in environmental management. Improving the level of private sector participation in environmental management to take economic responsibility for damage done to the environment is critical.

Time wasting: Experts have been clear that Nigeria, just like other countries, does not have the luxury of time in the bid to save the planet from catastrophe. It is predicted that climate change will worsen Nigeria's vulnerability if not addressed in time.

Progress report: Nigeria is struggling to produce its first Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The BUR is being prepared, taking into account the GHG emission level of different sectors of the economy, such as energy, oil and gas, transportation and agriculture. It is undertaken in order to improve transparency during the process of tracking mitigation progress of national GHG emission of countries who are parties to the Convention (UNFCCC), thereby reinforcing ambition at a global level and providing the information basis for planning and implementing mitigation action.

Supporting institutions

Nigeria's Climate Action effort has attracted the support of international and national development finance institutions, non-governmental organizations and corporate bodies. Key institutions such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank are already supporting some projects designed to address the impact of climate change across Nigeria.

The Global Change Strategies International Inc (GCSI) of Canada is involved in efforts to tackle climate change in Nigeria, and is partnering with the Nigerian Environmental Study Action Team (NEST) on a wide range of climate change capacity development projects. Nigeria has also received financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for the development of its BUR on Climate Change efforts.
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