Policy Briefs

Nigeria and Post-Marrakech Challenges.

By Oseloka H. Obaze & Chiagozie Udeh


For Nigeria, the scourge of Boko Haram, encroaching desertification and drought have combined to adversely decimate the Northeast region. Agricultural output has shrunken extensively, falling below twenty-five percent of the regional capacity. Lake Chad is so desiccated that it can hardly support the eco-system around it. These latter challenges unlike Boko Haram are climate-related.  Addressing them requires a national buy-in, proactive policy options and international support.

 The just concluded 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties (COP22) to the Kyoto protocol in Marrakech, Morocco, served as the first meeting of parties to the Paris agreement (CMA1) and provided the first opportunity to develop a mutually acceptable framework for the implementation of the Paris agreement. The speed with which many nations signed and ratified the Paris agreement leaving COP22 to work on implementation is unprecedented, but proves that climate change concerns are real. Before COP22, discussions centered on funding that would enable developing countries adapt to the rising effects of climate change. In that context, the two weeks of negotiations in Marrakech was hardly fortuitous. A notable achievement of COP22, is the progress made on setting the timeliness and benchmarks for drafting a rules book for the implementation of the Paris agreement which will guide the actions of parties to the Paris agreement, with 2018 set as the target date.

Matters Arising

Since the COP19 in Copenhagen, climate finance has remained contentious. The $100 billion green climate fund (GCF) established in 2009 has received only $10 billiion in contributions. The fund targeted to last until 2020, is evidently grossly underestimated as experts now forecast that climate change funding will run into trillion dollars, in order to achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement. This reality present the developing countries – the most affected but the lesser polluters and contributors — with a confounding paradox; the yet unrealized $100 billion will not suffice for addressing the ambitious Paris Agreement.  Meanwhile, the adaptation fund and streamlining the process through which developing nations can benefit remains a challenge.

Persisting Challenges

The continued refusal of some developed countries to accept responsibility for their immense contributions to the climate crises is stalling progress on the green climate fund. Global North countries are a bit non-committal preferring to contribute symbolic, if not derisory sums. Understandably, Developed Countries who are the heavy polluters confront the ire of Developing Countries and lesser polluters that consider verbalized commitments as platitudinous. The latter insist that the $100 billion Green Climate Fund (GCF) is not sufficient for developing countries to fulfill their adaptation needs. In response, quite a few countries of the Global North also pointed at the lack of enough bankable projects from the developing countries. The core funding issue aside, the challenge of benchmarking requisite deadlines for most of the targets contained in the Paris Agreement subsists, with most countries worried that the lack of delivery deadlines for most of the agreements, will consequently give room for laxity, if not non-compliance.

Post-Marrakech Outlook

COP22 ended with nations looking increasingly hopeful of the delivery of the Paris Agreement, but for most nations in the Global South, this is propitious moment to draw on the now operational $3.1 billion South-South Cooperation Climate Fund launched by China in 2015 in Paris. China remains constructively engaged by hosting a South-South Cooperation Forum on margins of the COP22, with many developing countries attending. The concerns about accessing the GCF, if any, were removed with Liberia and Nepal receiving $2.2 million and $2.9 million dollars respectively from the fund at Marrakech.  According to the UNFCCC, 20 other countries are in line to have their proposals approved soon with each getting up to $3 million.  It is envisaged that the GCF will approve projects worth some $2.5 billion soon.

Consternation by Mr. Trump

Given his rhetoric on climate change, the emergence of Donald Trump as the President-elect of the U.S. continues to elicit grave concerns. The emotional remarks by the Fiji delegation at the closing plenary of COP22, captured perfectly prevailing fears being expressed by most countries over the fate of the Paris Agreement during the Trump presidency. However, such fears were doused slightly when during a press conference, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, reassured members of the global community that the U.S. will not pull out of the Paris agreement, and that as President, Trump will find it exceedingly difficult to do so, if he ever wished to. Mindful of prevailing concerns, Mr. Trump has admitted possible connectivity between human actions and climate change.

 Nigeria – Headway and Missed Opportunities

The impact of climate on Nigeria is still being grossly underreported and underestimated. Thus Nigeria’s overall response has been marginal. Yet Nigeria had a fair outing at Marrakech; an evident improvement to her participation in previous COPs. The Minister for Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, brought along to Marrakech at least  three members of the National Assembly as part of the country’s delegation to COP. She also brought along two colleagues, Minister of Mines and Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh. Such collaborative approach adds to policy synergy and complementarity. It guarantees that policymakers do not just understand the issues, but augurs well as it will help in fast-tracking the domestication of internationally agreed climate change policies in Nigeria. Since the power and agricultural sectors are hugely affected by climate change, Nigeria’s multidisciplinary approach is commendable.

Whereas Nigeria hosted two side events in Marrakech and the Akwa-Ibom State Government hosted another event, there were discernible and inexplicable missed opportunities. For instance, Nigeria should have led the African intervention, but for most part of the closing plenary, Nigeria’s four seats were vacant, leaving Mali to spearhead the African intervention. Also, it was largely expected that given her needs, Nigeria would have proactively sought funds and international support for the recharging of Lake Chad, which is expected to cost the and estimated $16 billion. That didn’t happen. Nigeria also appeared not too keen on taking advantage of the South-South Cooperation on Climate Change, especially via funds made available by China. Finally, Nigeria missed out of being part of the V40 Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a group of 40 countries considered to be most vulnerable to climate change.  That grouping, which at the close of COP21 in Paris, had just 20 countries have since expanded to a 40-nation grouping, without Nigeria, even as Morocco, a country with a far more stable economy than Nigeria deemed it imperative to join.

Policy Options and Recommendations

For Nigeria not to pursue all remedial measures at its disposal in tackling climate change, will amount to gross policy oversight. Hence there is need to adopt climate smart policies. Such approach should be a signature modality of the Buhari government if it desires to attract the much needed international support for its work on climate change.  There is need to also engage much more assertively within the framework of the South-South Cooperation Forum with the possible benefits accruing from China’s financial backing of the process. Contextually, there has to be a change in Nigeria’s power generation policy, with a view to promoting investments in renewable energy. Nigeria must strive to reduce its use of fossil energy, perhaps not as much as Morocco’s 80 percent, but by a reasonable margin. As such, the Federal Government must continue to offer incentives to and support to key players in this sector and indeed, take the lead by investing in alternative and renewable energy. Relying on international partners to lead the campaign will not do.

There’s no gainsaying that Nigeria should immediately organize a post-COP national conference on modalities and structures for domesticating international agreements and communicating same to the 36 states of the federation to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Moreover, considering the missed opportunities in Marrakech, work should immediately to ensure that Nigeria is able to access the GCF within the next one year. She stands to receive close to $3 million, and that ought to be a good start. More fundamentally, Nigeria must shift from her business-as-usual approach and show the urgency required in climate actions.

Obaze is MD/CEO, Selonnes Consult Ltd. Udeh is a Research Associate at Selonnes Consult Ltd.



Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.

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