THE NIGERIAN LEGAL AND INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate advocacy which is the public advocacy for environmental sustainability and preservation, is the most universal climate response. An examination of Nigeria’s climate advocacy however, leaves a lot to be desired. An organised approach is necessary for a country such as Nigeria in order to effectively reach the grassroots which contribute the most to climate change and are more prone to the effects of climate change. The objective of climate advocacy in Nigeria should be focused more on fortifying the more vulnerable communities and regions with methods peculiar to the nature of their vulnerability. Planning and effective crisis management is also an integral part of Nigeria’s Climate Advocacy.
Generally, there are two methods that can be employed in response to climate change, mitigation or adaptation. Mitigation is generally focused on reducing activities and elements that cause climate change. Adaptation, on the other hand, is a form of coping mechanism focused on managing the effects that already are. The effective response to climate change is one that is a mixture of mitigation and adaptation.
The Nigerian government has set measures in place to adapt to the effect of climate change in the nation and to prevent an aggravation of activities responsible for climate change.
In 2021, the Nigerian government enacted the Climate Change Act. The Act is the first comprehensive standalone law on climate change in West Africa. It adopted most of the provisions of previous policies. The Act provides for carbon budgeting and climate change actions. The Act established the National Council on Climate Change to be headed by the President of Nigeria.
The Act is to promote policies and programmes to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation. It is also to ensure that these policies are integrated with similar policies for development and environmental safety. It promotes the mobilization of resources for climate change programs. The Act has also provided structured support to Climate litigation clime in Nigeria, ensuring that claims are actionable against the relevant Agencies for failure to fulfil statutory and administrative obligations, down to individuals who disregard the environment and contribute to its degradation.
The Act provides that its objectives include: ensuring that Nigeria formulates programmes for achieving its long-term goals on climate change mitigation and adaptation; facilitating the coordination of climate change action needed to achieve long-term climate objectives; mainstreaming climate change actions in line with national development priorities; facilitating the mobilisation of finance, and other resources necessary to ensure effective action on climate change; ensuring that climate change policies and actions are integrated with other related policies for promoting socio-economic development and environmental integrity; setting a target for the year 2050 – 2070 for the attainment of a net-zero GHG emission, in line with Nigeria’s international climate change obligations; (g) identifying risks and vulnerabilities, building resilience and strengthening existing adaptive capacities to the impacts of climate change.
The Court with competent Jurisdiction by the provisions of the Act is the High Court, the State and Federal High Courts. The Act vests on the High Court, the power to make orders for the discontinuance of harmful actions, compelling of public officers to perform their duties and even award to victims adversely affected. Bearing in mind that climate and environmental responsibilities and rights are not expressed to be justifiable by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is noteworthy that The Act, domestic legislation covers some of these lapses. The Act covers Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, imposing compliance obligations on them.
The National Council for Climate Change, an agency established by the Act is empowered to make policies on issues relating to climate change arising from the Act. The Council is a body Corporate with a seal and enjoys perpetual succession. Its powers extend to coordination and monitoring sectors and programmes, approving and formulating policies, overseeing of the Climate Change Fund, disseminating information on climate change and even advising on climate agreements.
The Act also introduced the Climate Change Fund to be administered by the Council which shall be a fund inclusive of an amount appropriated by the National Assembly, donations and charges from the services rendered by the council, funding from international organisations and taxes from emission trading. It is meant to fund the council and be used for other climate change policies subject to the council’s approval.
The Nigerian government’s approach heavily leans towards adaptation with little focus on mitigation and this is quite worrisome. In furtherance of the adaptation approach in Nigeria, certain policies have been implemented, though largely internationally funded. The Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project by the World Bank and the Ministry of Environment were implemented to reduce gully erosion in coastal areas and adaptive livelihood techniques. It focused on warning systems and flood early warning systems and disaster risk prevention in over 23 states in Nigeria. The project also covers solid waste management to minimise flooding in coastal region states.
The Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change Project was initiated in 2007. The project is focused on food security, alternate means of fuel and access to water. The Canadian International Development Agency funded the project with 49 million Euros.
Another project is the 2021 NEWMAP launched with $700 million to address community climate resilience and provide a framework for effective management and financing of climate control policies.
The government still carries out certain mitigation steps, however. This includes reforestation, reformation of agricultural practices and reduction of emission of CO2.