Nigeria’s Environment Minister of State, Sharon Ikeazor, in an interview conducted in Glasgow at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), expresses optimism that the country will attract financing to address its ecological challenges and alleviate thesituationof the vulnerable people. Excerpts:
From the situation on ground, particular Nigeria, what sort of a deal should we expect, particularly on climate change financing?
If you listen to all of them (the delegates), they have made it clear that without climate financing, there is no way the world can adapt or mitigate the effects of climate change. And again, if truth be told, developing worlds are not the greatest emitters, the developed countries that have caused the crisis have been able to back off their pledges, and it is one of the issues being negotiated. Climate finance should be transparent and made available and equitably distributed to those most vulnerable to the climate change crisis.
Besides tree planting which goes a long way to reduce Nigeria’s carbon footprint, what are specific measures adopted that could be a bargaining tool here?
The recent NDCs that were submitted and our commitment to emission reduction, conditionally and unconditionally, and also our National Adaptation Plan and the implementation strategies and also our National Policy on Climate Change. We also have a Policy on Gender and Climate Change, to mainstream gender consideration into our climate change policies and actions because if you do not have implementation plans or policies to tackle change, how can you be claiming finance. But Nigeria already has a policy in place and has also the implementation plans in place.
Climate education is considered vital in addressing the climate change challenge. Does government share a similar view?
Climate education is key and that is what we are lacking in Nigeria and not just climate education for the young ones or those in school, but even government officials. So, I have asked the Department of Climate Change, they have an education and awareness unit that hasn’t been living up to its mandate, to go all out there to educate our people to understand the issues of climate change, how to adapt to it, how to mitigate it and most especially our rural farmers who are being affected by climate change.
Majority of our people they are dependent on climate agriculture because during dry season there is no water, how do they farm?
So, part of our adaptation plans is to get our people to understand the effects of climate change and adapt to it.
Nigeria recently joined other countries to sign up to the Global Methane Pledge, and the Net-Zero Emission. What do we intend to gain from all these, what are the benefits coming to Nigeria?
We all live in a global world, and we all feel the climate change crisis, whether you are the emitter or you are not the emitter. As a member of the global community, we must pledge our supports to all the initiatives because we signed up the Paris Agreement so we must live up to our commitments and also implement the commitments we made in our NDCs.
And as we are making those commitments to our NDCs, trying to implement our action plans we should be able to attract climate finance from most of those implementation agencies.
Now that climate financing is an issue like you mentioned here and the President in his speech promised that by 2060 Nigeria should be able to progress considerably with the zero-emission target. Is that going to be possible with the issue of climate finance?
Yes, it is. Without finance it is not possible, no matter how good your plan is, your implementation plan is, if there is no funding, it is an exercise in futility, So everyone knows that.
So, we put together the energy transition plan which is very detailed, and it is based on data. We are going to present that on Friday (November 5, 2021) at the UN Stainable Energy Pavilion.
In that energy transition plan, we have worked out what it will cost Nigeria to reach net zero, about $400 billion, this is not just a figure off my head, Experts helped us put our report together, we got the support of 26 energy countries to come up with our energy transition plan and our energy …
And inside that energy transition plan, it shows us how we can combine renewable energy to have a mix and also to reduce emissions by electrifying our cars. If we have such projects and upscale them, we will be able to reduce our emissions.
Looking at how urgent the climate problem is globally and also looking at Nigeria’s ambition to also solve this problem. How ambitious and focused is the nation?
Our own is not the ambition to solve the problem, it is our ambition to make our people adapt and make our people less vulnerable to it because to me if you reduce or remove all the fossil fuels in the world, you cannot reverse the damage that has been done in the past. So, it is now how to balance that.
And for me the way to balance it, we talk more, and we emphasise more on climate change, and we fund more of climate change but without tackling biodiversity loss, we are not getting anywhere, because the two have to be go hand-in-hand because where do you get that carbon? Is it not in that biodiversity that we are cutting down everywhere? So, if we tackle these two, we will be able to solve the problem.
But our own now is how to reduce our people’s vulnerability to climate change because we cannot stop what is happening, today you see the flooding, so how do we get our people to adapt to survive with this and we need their resilience; without that, what do we do?