Experts Proffer Solutions To Climate Change

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The impact of climate change on the world at large has been devastating in recent times. Rising sea levels, floods and forest fires has swept away communities, leading to loss of lives and properties.  In Africa, especially Nigeria, the impact of climate change has also been visible.

In northern Nigeria, heavy rainfall has sacked communities, leaving behind tears and loss.

In the Eastern Nigeria and some part of the South, the problem of erosion has been pronounced. In Anambra State, erosion has sacked several houses. In Edo State, Auchi area, erosion is wreaking havoc in the area.

Last year, there was flooding in Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria which sacked thousands of people from their homes as a result of the release of water from Oyan Dam into the Osun River by the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority.

Fear of the impact of climate change is now the beginning of wisdom. The threat posed by it is real, and could wipe out nations and exterminate human being from Planet Earth. Experts in climate change have continued to predict doom for the world if a pragmatic approach was not adopted to mitigate the impact of climate change.

It is for this reason that the Lagos State Government staged the third edition of the 2011 Lagos State Summit on Climate Change with the theme: Charting a Road Map for Combating Climate Change in Nigeria. The aim of the summit was to proffer solutions to the impact of climate change in Nigeria and create awareness about it.

Experts from around the world were at the three-day event at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos to chat a new course and find the way forward for Nigeria and the world in respect to mitigating the impact of climate change and its attendant devastation.

Some of the experts included Dr. Kenny Tang of the Oxbridge Weather Capital, London, United Kingdom; Dr. Tapio Kanninen, Senior Research Fellow, Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, Graduate Centre of the City University of New York; Sebastien Jodon from Canada; Prof. Olu Lafe, a professor of Engineer; Caludion Szlafsztein, Centre of Environmental Science, Universidade Federal do Para, Brazil, among several others.

Dr. Tang set the agenda for the day when he released frightening statistics on the devastation caused by climate change. He said at least N16.7 trillion (US$110 billion) was lost to the impact of climate change globally in 2010

Tang disclosed that 375 natural disasters occurred worldwide and that 300,000 people were killed in the disaster while 207 million people were affected globally. He lamented that in Haiti, 200,000 people were killed as a result of a heat wave which swept through land, while 1,985 others were killed in Pakistan and 3,451 died in China.

He added that in 2005, economic losses to climate change were put at US$240 billion and that these were not insured losses.

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola also expressed fears that the planet was at risk of coming to an end and human civilization is being threatened if climate change was not effectively contained.

“I wish to provide a new thinking and perspective for our scientists and experts. While the evidence of Climate Change is real, overwhelming and undeniable, I ask myself whether our interpretation of this evidence is correct. I ask these questions because of the equally overwhelming evidence that many other species have traversed our planet many millions of years ago and perished. Are we the ones to give way or is it our planet or both?” he asked.

Fashola noted that climate change remained a peculiar problem that has continued to put world leaders on their toes over the years. He opined that the climate change summit marked another struggle to rescue “our dear planet from the looming dangers currently ravaging the global space. It is a struggle to correct our errors, a struggle to save global citizens from the approaching ecocatastrophe – I mean the effort to save posterity from the consequence of errors for which they are not responsible”.

The governor recalled the experience of the nation in the last one year with flooding and erosion which claimed several lives, livestock, farm produce and houses and challenged that all hands must be on deck to chart a course to combat climate change in Nigeria, especially as we lack the capacity to manage high level disasters that may arise from the effects of climate change.

Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Muiz Banire said, “it is our responsibility to effectively and passionately preserve the planetary properties. This is the only way we can protect and preserve biodiversity.

“As a proactive government, we have taken steps in addressing environmental problems. These include effective management of waste, flood and coastal erosion. We have also built up our advocacy programmes through workshops, seminars, public lectures, media campaign, climate change and waste water summits, tree planting land reclamation, landscaping and beautification, campaign against desertification through the desert warriors, and control of land, water, noise and air pollution,” he said.

The Nigeria Governors Forum in a goodwill message delivered by Alhaji Lateef Shittu said the battle to reverse climatic change was very fundamental to life, because green house gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide lasts for hundreds of years in the atmosphere. “As a result, the impact of our actions on the climate is cumulative and will be felt by generations to come,” they stated.

The Deputy British High Commissioner, Mr. Robin Gwyn said Britain was set to demonstrate how a successful and prosperous low-carbon economy could be developed in the UK and Europe, providing employment, exports and energy security, and reducing emissions.

He added that an Energy Bill had been presented to Parliament, which would radically transform the energy efficiency of Britain’s housing stock as well as help employ up to 250,000 people in the next decade.

He noted that on the global level, “we need to shift investment urgently from high carbon business-as-usual to the low carbon economy – which means building an essentially decarbonised global economy by mid century”. At the same time we must ensure development is climate resilient – otherwise the changes in climate that are already unavoidable will block the path for hundreds of millions of people from poverty to prosperity.

Gwyn said the biggest challenge facing the summit and similar gatherings of policy makers and thinkers around the world was how to refashion the global economy in ways that maintain and enhance prosperity and security for all the world’s peoples and how to continue to create and spread wealth, meeting legitimate demands from around the globe, while minimising further damage to the delicate natural balance.

Nigeria as a country and Lagos as a city, he opined, represented many of these conflicting forces, adding that: “I have heard much in my time in Nigeria about oil exports, power shortages and diesel generators, but much less about, say, renewable or clean energy. Forward-looking leaders are looking at the Clean Development Mechanism, as here in Lagos, and other elements of climate-related financing, research and development.”

He asked rhetorically: “Is there a next generation of policy officials, entrepreneurs and investors out there that can harness such opportunities and help Nigeria join the transition to the low carbon global economy of the future, while managing its current economic and energy needs?”

Although, Gwyn believes that the economic and social rewards in making that journey would be huge, he reckoned that there could certainly be no more urgent strategic need, both for our own global security and prosperity – and for future generations.

The United Nations Development Project, UNDP Resident Representative/Resident Coordinator, UN Systems in Nigeria, Mr. Daouda Toure said the United Nations system in Nigeria had been providing cutting edge support to national and state efforts aimed at developing new strategies and initiatives for mainstreaming climate change into national policy and programmes.

The resident coordinator noted that UNDP was working on the development of a Climate Change Policy and on the establishment of the State Climate Change Dialogue (SCCD) forum among others. This, according to him, is a sub national knowledge platform dedicated to exchange of ideas, sharing of information and best practices on climate change.

The summit recommended that the Lagos State Government should consider the adoption of the functional assessment framework approach to climate change actions as a way of facilitating the implementation of adaptation strategies; to avoid or minimize consequences of human rights violations from climate change effects, Lagos State Government needs to strengthen stakeholder consultation while taking actions to combat climate change impacts.

The experts also said there was need for a new legal regime in the country for dealing with intra-national  migrations and population displacements and that this legal regime should be built upon existing human rights laws and principles and that the Lagos State government should take advantage of the great job creation potential of clean energy systems by training or retraining the citizenry in clean energy technologies.

It was further recommended that in order to finance her Climate Change activities, Lagos State Government should leverage funds from public sources, Clean Development Mechanism, CDM projects and the private sector while government should dialogue with business and international institutions with a view to setting short and long-term emission reduction targets to be incorporated into Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) for Nigeria and developing a carbon stock exchange mechanism and policies that put effective price on carbon in order to make investors re-assess investment values and redirect their investments appropriately.

The experts agreed that the government, which has ultimate responsibility for the protection of the people of the state as well as their properties, should take climate change scenarios into account in planning and budgeting for disaster response.

“Lagos State should adopt a participatory and multidimensional approach to climate change risk assessment in its development programmes and include appropriate climate change insurance mechanism in order to hedge against the impact of climate change and also be able to decide on the right mix between mitigation and adaptation.

“In the area of climate change actions, the Lagos State Government must design a long-term strategy for building the capacity to link knowledge of climate change to action; develop and implement a plan of action; deliver on development objectives,” it recommended.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga