We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.
By Tosin Omoniyi
The European Union, EU, has called on the Federal Government to put in place adequate measures to ensure that the effects of climate change do not hamper the growth and development of the country.
It advised the current administration to positively utilize the huge amounts of carbon dioxide and quantities of gas flared in the Niger Delta by using such to feed power stations that would generate electricity.
It said this would reduce dependence on power generators and ensure reduction in greenhouse gas and enhance rapid economic development.
This advice was contained in a joint statement issued by the EU ambassador to Nigeria, Michael Arion, and his counterparts from France, Denys Gauer; Denmark, Torben Getterman; Britain, Andrew Pocock; and Germany, Michael Zenner.
The diplomats issued the warning at the EU Climate Diplomacy Day, which held in Abuja on Wednesday.
Arion, who spoke on behalf of the diplomats, said the event, which holds simultaneously in many countries around the globe every June 17 was aimed at alerting host countries of the dangers posed by climate change.
He noted that while Nigeria had done a lot in tackling climate change, more needs to be done to curtail its devastating effects.
“Climate change is for real. And we have to do something urgent about it. It is just like the proverbial elephant in the room that must be evacuated. It is not a plot hatched against Africa by the Western nations as being insinuated in certain quarters. It is possible to grow our economy and also contain gas emission which is injurious to development in the long run,” Arion noted.
He added that the challenge was not for developed nations alone.
“It must be seen as a global issue that affects everyone especially developing nations which will suffer more at the end. It is a task for everyone,” he noted.
He also said that in about six months from now ,the EU will meet in Paris to sign an international agreement that will shape future commitments in the area of climate change.
“The work to achieve that agreement has begun. It is up to us to ensure that we create the momentum needed to finish the job,” he explained.
Arion also said the EU has already made a separate commitment aimed at reducing greenhouse emission by at least 40% based on the 1990 levels.
He said Nigeria should equally toe the same line in view of the fact that it also faces huge climatic challenges in the areas of encroaching desertification, flooding, coastal erosion and changing weather patterns affecting agriculture.
He said it was gratifying to hear the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari identify international engagement as a priority for Nigeria in the next dispensation.
“As one of Africa’s leaders, Nigeria has an opportunity and a responsibility to encourage and support African partners in developing progressive regional position. That global engagement will need to be backed with a clear national commitment. Nigeria is developing its own national plan and we urge the Nigerian government to set ambitious, concrete targets for reducing carbon emissions,” Arion said.
The French ambassador, who spoke briefly, said his country is waiting earnestly to host the world when it gathers in France to fashion out ways to meet the 2020 goals set for global containment of greenhouse emission and climate change challenges.
He said the conference which he tagged as, ‘It will not be business as usual,’ would focus on goals such as having a universally binding agreement on climate change, identifying specific contributions by nations worth commending, financial implications of a successful global campaign and laying down a solid legal and political framework for the global agenda.
The Nigerian representative at the event, A Adejuwon, assured the international gathering that Nigeria is doing a lot to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce gas flaring. He said Nigeria already has in place an institutional framework to guide its role in addressing the issue.
He noted that an inter-ministerial platform had been set up to tackle the issues of climate change.
“Nigeria also has a formidable linkage center on climate change in Federal University of Technology, Minna. It has developed a Nigeria Climate Change policy. There is equally a national adaptation strategy in place. We also have a national climate change media network aimed at strengthening advocacy and campaign structures. There is equally a policy of zero tolerance on gas flaring which though has not been totally implemented but is gradually recording success,” Adejuwon said.
Three films depicting the horrifying effects of climate change on social and economic lives of nations were aired at the event which had in attendance, diplomats, environmental activists, representative of oil firms, NGOs and the media.