By Saidu Ahmed

“In 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children or grandchildren, maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced” –Greta Thunberg

Development does not happen in abstract or absentia, there must be someone taking responsibility for its execution. Acknowledging our achievements as a people has continued to remind us to pay impeccable attention to the future and Fahrenheit of our dear nation. This has similarly sent a persuasive message of moral restoration and responsibility to the documents that binds us in fate and history.

I’m writing this letter to you, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, from my point of view, having lived through policy events that have so far shaped the climate security architecture of this administration. I am aware of what sceptics usually miss: the feel of the time, the specificity of episodes, the polemical temperature of all ideological debates about green finance and climate diplomacy, the ace of verification, the exposition of those vital contextualisation that we have crafted with the strategic intention of amplifying policy messages of this government.

In February, Abuja was the hottest capital in West Africa. Abubakar Evuti, Special Assistant, Media, to the Minister of Environment, brought this to my knowledge, which made me to immediately revisit some statistics at the MeteoGroup, with a rising fear of what the future may hold for our cities.

As the reality becomes clearer, I took further inquiry into few texts and classics like, “The Revenge of Geography” by Robert D Kaplan, “Power and Progress” by Professor Acemoglu and Johnson, “Commonwealth: Economics For a Crowded Planet”, by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs and “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption”, by Dahr Jamail. With these findings and conceptualizations, I came to agree better why we must bring to the centre of this administration, the new national question “climate change.”

Nearly 30 million households in Nigeria depend on wood as a source of fuel for cooking. By 2030, traditional cooking with firewood will lead to 97,000 deaths annually, with women and children bearing a disproportionate burden of diseases. Presently, emission from cooking contributes over 55 million tonnes of CO2 representing about 16% of total national greenhouse gas emissions. Nigeria has 3.5% annual rate of deforestation and loss approximately 350,000- 400,000 hectares per year. The widespread use of wood for cooking contributes a sizeable share of deforestation.

Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Paris Climate Change Agreement has set a target of switching about half of the population to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and 13 per cent to improve cook stoves by 2030. Nigeria has an estimated population of 218.5 million people (World Bank and U.S Census Bureau 2022 estimate) and will become the world’s fourth largest country by population size by 2050. Twenty per cent of all households in Nigeria use kerosene. About 10.5 per cent use charcoal, about three per cent use other improved biomass forms. Only one per cent uses electricity for cooking.

President Tinubu is aware of the climate change challenges and the ameliorative efforts put together so far to achieve a net zero target has been plausible. The Tinubu green economics saw the development of the Nigeria Carbon Market Activation Plan with Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Zacch Adedeji and Director-General, National Council on Climate Change (NCCC), Dahiru Salisu, as co-chairs.

In a press statement you (Ajuri) signed, I’m bringing it up here as a recapitulation or reminder to crystallise the above standpoint, the President said: “We recognise the imperative of fostering an environment that not only attracts investment but also upholds standardized and sustainable industrial practices.

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“As a manifestation of our forward-thinking approach, we are actively looking to implement robust, enabling policies and frameworks that will serve as the catalyst for the burgeoning growth of the carbon market within our national borders.

“This initiative stands as a testament to our dedication to environmental stewardship as clearly exemplified through our collaboration with the Africa Carbon Market Initiative. Our visionary plan is a strategic guidepost, directing Nigeria towards becoming an investment-friendly destination for carbon market investments.

“In this pursuit, we acknowledge the pressing need for comprehensive global collaboration. We reiterate our commitment to being an active participant in international efforts.”

Climate change tends to mean different things depending on where you are coming from. I was listening to Ajay Banga, in his speech at the IMF-World Bank 2023 Plenary, when he was emphasising this.

If you discuss climate change as being only the avoidance of carbon-intensive growth, as in the emissions from energy generation principally, but also transportation and construction material, then that’s one definition.

But when you live in the global South that’s not their definition. Their definition is loss of biodiversity, forest cover, less rainfall, challenges with the soil degradation. That’s their visual. That’s their issue of climate change and it gets exacerbated with crisis events of hurricane and weather events they can’t deal with.

As the Presidential Envoy on Climate Change, Tinubu has set the pace for you and other members of the Presidential Committee on Climate Solution to ensure the green target has been met by 2030. The task is definitely a Herculean one.

Remember, history will recall all the efforts you mustered at home and at international fora as an attempt to pitch the Renewed Hope Agenda as a new force in the global climate security architecture. Projecting our green agenda at the world stage will require an extensive and concerted strategic communication, bringing all the stakeholders into the fold of our renewed climate solution narrative.

I wish you all a successful national and global engagement.

• Ahmed is Technical Assistant, Research and Strategy to the Minister of Information and National Orientation.

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