Nigeria needs proactive Climate Governance Policy to protect National Income in the face of a global trend towards decarbonisation – Part 2

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Just in case Nigeria’s leaders need more convincing to adopt a proactive climate governance policy approach. Shifting geo political arithmetic; the US more assertive approach to accessing strategic reserves under the Trump Administration, exploitation of shale gas, Iran’s temporary resurgence, emerging new producers of hydrocarbons in the Middle East and Africa is slowly robbing the country of previously guaranteed, lucrative international markets for its sweet crude in the US and EU. As at 2017, the leading buyer of Nigeria’s crude was India. Fluctuations in global crude prices have sometimes rendered domestic national budget setting process a mere political exercise, rather than, the useful economic planning tool it is designed to be.
Nigeria’s Crude Oil: Exports from 1980 to 2017 chart

Change is clearly required if Nigeria is to have any chance to grow its Gross National Income and, at the same time, meet its obligations as a signatory to the many international environmental agreements. First, Nigeria must elevate climate change to the status of National Security, just as it does, in the fight against domestic terrorism and banditry. It must devote enough budgetary resources and policy capital to embedding the fight against Climate Change causes & effects on its citizens’ lives and livelihoods, as a national priority. It is highly unlikely that Nigeria can exhibit the brazenness of America’s Donald Trump to withdraw temporarily from some of these agreements, nor is it clear whether it will benefit much from doing so.

More and more barrels of Nigeria’s sweet crude now languish at the ports, and on the high seas, waiting for buyers. Recent drops in oil prices have also served up clear warning shots that, the country’s leaders need to come up with robust policies to mitigate these evolving market risks. The growing acceptance of electric vehicles and alternative energy driven growth, globally, will only increase the risk of National Income collapse.

Another set of scenarios that place sensible Climate Governance policy firmly within the national security portfolio include, the impacts of desert encroachment in the northern parts of the country, bordering the Sahel. Clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farmers further in land, in the North Central and some parts of South West Nigeria are well documented. In the absence of adequate grazing lands, and poor access to water, cattle herders, traditional residents of northern states have started to head south. Skirmishes as a result of competition for land between nomads and farmers have reportedly resulted in thousands dead over a relative short period, with tens of thousands displaced from their home lands and livelihoods. The budding artisanal mining operations arising across the country, especially in the northern parts, have also become net contributor to environmental degradation and escalation of security risks.

Globally, younger generations taking a cue from their counterparts like Swedish youngster, Greta Thunberg, who started the Schools for Climate movement, are taking to the streets to ask difficult questions from leaders. Similar groups to Extinction Rebellion and Mothers for Climate will continue to spring up across the world. It is only a matter of time before Nigerian youths begin to make their demand for leadership and answers on Climate Change loud and clear. Evolving a strategic policy framework that takes account of not just currently familiar irritants, but new and emerging ones, must be the goal. The need to adequately fund,  harmonise & simplify existing domestic environmental rules and regulations can not be over emphasised.

Genuine consultation and Involvement of state and non-state actors equally, from industry to civil society, will aid the embedding of such policy reforms. Historically, climate policy formulation, as in other areas of public policy in Nigeria, have been conceived, formulated and promulgated exclusively within the public sector space. Experience from countries where climate policy and action have become sustained, offer ample evidence in support of a collaborative approach.

To be successful in crafting the best possible National Climate Governance policy for the medium to long-term, Nigeria must raise the status of Climate Change mitigation amongst other [National Security] priorities. A grand plan is needed right now that incorporates the inputs of the security services, economic management team and civil society.  With the ever present tendency for criminals to take advantage of lapses in national security policy gaps, and the urgent need to find alternative growth opportunities to oil and gas, the country has little choice but to act now and fast. It must take full advantage of the global support infrastructure of financial and technology transfer, currently on offer via instruments of the Paris Climate Agreement to make the necessary adjustments, before it becomes too late.

Written by Hon. Doctor Farah Dagogo, Climate Change Advocate & Member Representing Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency, Nigeria House of Representatives. @DagogoFarah