Partnering post-Paris: Nigeria’s climate change pathway


In 2015 all nations of the world came together at the Paris Agreement to collectively agree actions to respond to the threat of climate change. It was a triumph of international diplomacy. And with this commitment came a wealth of opportunity for developing nations. Higher income countries have already committed $100 billion USD per year to developing countries by 2020. Since Paris, attention has focused on how to turn commitment into action. This will not be easy. Developing countries will need to demonstrate progress to unlock climate finance.

In Nigeria, urgent action is required — the country is exposed to climate impacts from coastal flooding in the south to desertification in the north. While the Federal Ministry of Environment holds the responsibility for Nigeria’s commitment to reduce emissions, effective implementation will require strong coordination, collaboration and ‘mainstreaming’ across government ministries, departments and agencies whose remit covers sectors that contribute to carbon emissions.

Nigeria’s climate commitment

The Nigerian government set out ambitious targets in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). The country committed to deliver at least a 20% reduction in emissions by 2030 (if Nigeria continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate), rising to 45% with the support of the international community. The sectors below were identified as the main ones where a reduction in emissions is possible.

As an oil-rich country, and Africa’s largest economy, there are a special set of challenges that need to be addressed in Nigeria. Historically, the importance of oil to the economy has led many to perceive climate issues as at best an irrelevance or, at worst, a barrier to the development of the economy. Until recently, decision makers were not convinced that taking climate change action was warranted. This has been coupled with many of the common institutional problems observed in resource rich countries.

Secondly, although the recent decline in the oil price has helped to bring home some of the benefits from diversification of the economy towards lower carbon activities and energy sources, it has also significantly reduced the government’s fiscal room for manoeuvre. As a percentage of GDP, government revenue has fallen by 50% since 2008.

Despite these challenges, significant progress on implementation has been made in 2016. Nigeria now has strong political leadership and is working on a harmonised plan. The appointment of Honourable Minister Amina Mohammed has been met with international approval and under her leadership the Nigerian Ministry of Environment, with the support of the Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) and other development partners, has been working to identify how the country should implement its Paris Agreement commitments and prepare itself for a fundamentally different global economy.

From COP21 to COP22: Turning agreement into action

An effective response in Nigeria requires greater coordination. The re-invigoration of the Inter-Ministerial Climate Change Committee (ICCC) was vital in the drafting and submission of Nigeria’s INDC. Since COP21, the ICCC led by the Department of Climate Change, has provided a forum where inter-linkages, synergies and overlaps between different activities can be identified and exploited or resolved.

Going forward the role of the ICCC is clear. Firstly it will act as a watchdog, monitoring implementation, supporting issue resolution and actions to achieve agreed targets and secondly, it will engage and communicate with non-governmental stakeholders (e.g. private sector, NGOs, civil society, UNFCCC, donors) to establish collaborative partnerships. The response to climate change issues cannot be handled by government alone.

The Paris Agreement — and the ensuing implementation of INDCs — will, if successful, have fundamental implications for the economic and social development of many developing countries. While there has been much discussion about how to undertake INDC commitments, on-the-ground implementation remains scarce.

Nigeria — despite many challenges — is taking a lead, with the support of development partners. But there will be challenges ahead. Development partners can play a crucial role by integrating NDC implementation into their strategic engagement with countries and co-ordinating with each other to avoid duplication and capitalise on synergies.

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