How to solve climate change crisis, by Nigeria, others
As the United Nations Climate Conference, also known as the Conference of Parties (COP 15) enters its final day this morning, Nigeria yesterday urged a softening of hard-line positions among the major negotiating groups, warning that “the summit is too big and too special to fail.”
The Copenhagen climate change conference is the culmination of a process initiated by world leaders at a previous summit in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007, which gave the mandate for negotiations on a strong international deal to cover key issues involving reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions believed to be responsible for climate change; coping with its inevitable consequences; and raising the finance and technology needed to help developing countries step up actions to limit the growth of their emissions and adapt to climate change impacts.
The Copenhagen summit is also expected to deliver follow-up actions on the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty due to expire at the end of 2012 that specifies actions and responsibilities among nations towards limiting the emissions, as well as resolve the tortuous issue of the start-up finance required to immediately kick-start action on agreed outcomes.
But negotiations have stalled in the past two days over disagreements among the major parties on both substantial issues and on the negotiating process itself.
Some of the contentions issues have to do with whether to adopt an entirely new treaty or to retain the Kyoto Protocol as part of a two-track process that builds on the previous targets; and, how to raise funds for developing nations to cope with the anticipated impacts of climate change. There is also a deepening squabble between the United States (U.S.) and China over the Asian country’s growing emissions and its obligations to curb them.
Addressing the plenary session of the summit, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of the Nigerian delegation, cautioned that the time for apportioning blame was past, as “what is at stake is of such historic proportion that COP 15 cannot afford to fall apart into camps since all of humanity share a common future.”
“While we know who the big polluters are and have not forgotten the old adage that he who pollutes must pay, we believe there is enough blame to go around. No country is without responsibility. Copenhagen represents an opportunity for collective atonement. This is the only approach that can prevent what is a crisis from becoming a catastrophe.”
Canvassing the nation’s position in the stand-off, Madueke told the summit that: “Our response from Nigeria is to remain firmly committed to the Bali Road Map which strategically launched an open and transparent two-track negotiation process. We support the African Group position that these processes must result in two separate outcomes leading to an international instrument on the second commitment period of the KYOTO Protocol as well as long-term global action by all other countries.
“Our expectation is that an ambitious emissions target must be met by Annex 1 Countries. It should no longer be an option for developed countries to delay making deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. They should also support efforts by African countries to adapt to the negative impact of climate change.”
The Nigerian position was articulated at a meeting of all four ministers attending the summit, namely Maduekwe; Minister of Environment, John Odey; Minister of State for Health, Idi Hong; and, Minister of State for Power, Nuhu Somo Wya, along with other members of the Nigerian delegation drawn from the National Assembly, relevant ministries, departments and agencies, as well as the country’s diplomatic missions.
The statement noted that “for us in Nigeria, climate change is not academic; it is uniquely real. We live in it daily, whether in terms of aggressive desertification in northern Nigeria that has virtually seen Lake Chad disappear, or in the form of gully erosions in southern Nigeria that are swallowing up whole villages. And so, we come to Copenhagen with the hope and determination to do something.
“As Nigeria strives to develop its national economy, we are fully aware of the huge responsibility to address the incidence of carbon emissions through gas flaring in the oil sector. Much of this is gas that is inevitably associated with oil drilling that has created a major challenge for us which can only be addressed through an aggressive implementation of an ambitious gas masterplan within the enabling frame-work in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), together with the National Adaptation Strategy and plan of action which will involve all stakeholders in the country.
“Nigeria stands ready to work with those partners within the public and private sectors that are willing to invest in this promising sector. We have chosen the facilities of the market in dealing with the challenge of climate crisis by putting a price on carbon arising from gas flaring. Such a market approach will shift emphasis away from investment in high carbon content assets and activities in Nigeria to a green economy over time. Indeed, a bill for an Act of National Assembly in 2010 to end gas flaring has undergone third reading. Accordingly, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), established under the KYOTO Protocol, is a beacon of hope as we make gas flaring a history in Nigeria.”
Describing the climate challenge as “one of the most urgent challenges of our time,” U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said during a press briefing yesterday that four important outcomes were imperative for the talks to achieve the desired success.
These, she said, are an agreement on commitments by nations to specific actions to limit emissions; the adoption of a strong operational accord to take the process forward; the conclusion of talks on funding to assist vulnerable countries to cope with the impacts of climate change; and, the setting of acceptable standards of transparency to guide the process.
Besides, she announced the commitment of the U.S. government to mobilising funds to the tune of $100 billion yearly by 2020 towards addressing the climate challenges of vulnerable countries.
“The problem of climate change will not go away even after we leave Copenhagen, but neither will our resolve,” she stressed.
As the summit settled into tough negotiations yesterday after charged demonstrations took the host city by storm on Wednesday, notable world leaders lined up to pledge their commitment to the process and to charge the summit to ensure success in the effort.
Prominent among speakers yesterday were Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom (UK); Chancellor Angela Merkel (Germany); President Nicolas Sarkozy (France); President Luiz Lula da Silva (Brazil); and President Paul Biya (Cameroun), among several others.
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