Leading climate scientists have said that the only real chance we have of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees and securing a climate-safe future is if we phase out fossil fuels and our emissions to zero by 2050. They also say that it will require long term vision and dramatic short term action. To that effect, there is then the need to show an unflinching commitment to climate change issues, and as such, the clarion call is upon us to stand up and set the ball rolling. The hour is here for nations to set a long term vision that matches the science. These plans might seem unending and overarching, but it’s true that countries like Costa Rica, the Marshall Islands and Samoa have committed to zero emissions by 2050. The baton has been passed now, it’s high time we do same.
Times like these are when we wear the right boots to kick the right questions. Times when we ask how feasible the 2050 zero emission mantra is. These times do explain clearly why when the issue of zero emission was raised at a climate change education/awareness programme sometime in August, the learned audience questioned the prolegomena of the speaker, to say that perhaps he was only biting the dust. At first, I shared the same sentiment as did the participant who asked the question and so when the query came, I was hushed with not a single idea on what to answer to the question: How will Nigeria achieve zero emissions by 2050?
No doubt, it is important to ask the right questions, it brings to mind how teachers would charge their students to ask questions wherever they find a particular topic/subject difficult to understand and comprehend. Again, working from answers to questions does not reflect the practicality of the democratic creed we profess as a Nation, rather working from questions to answers comfortably guarantees a future planned out from the onset.
At this juncture, allow me to digress a little bit to get to the bigger picture. In April 2014, following a statistical “rebasing” exercise, Nigeria emerged as Africa’s largest economy, with 2013 GDP estimated at 502 billion USD. Oil has been a dominant source of government revenues since the 1970s. Also, crude oil exports account for over 90 per cent of the country’s exports and remain the key source of foreign currency. That said, it is also needful to note that Nigeria’s real net oil export revenue dropped to $77bn in 2014, the lowest since 2011, data from the newly released Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Revenues Fact Sheet have revealed.
In addition, the Nigerian economy has continued to grow at a rapid 6-8% per annum (pre-rebasing), driven by growth in agriculture, telecommunications and services. But then oil prices are dwindling, there is oversupply in the global oil market which constrains oil demand. These times reminds one of Sam Omatseye in ‘‘Lean Times”. In his avowal, he said, “These are no easy times, the price of oil has plummeted, states have to borrow to pay their bills. No one is asking for some things we took for granted”. True, the fall in global oil prices by more than 60% between June 2014 and January 2015 has resulted in the decline in revenue of crude oil exports. These times, therefore, answer the question where are we? But before these times, receipts from crude oil sales have traditionally provided over 67% of government revenue.
On the road to 2050, Nigeria and Nigerians should contain all illusive wind storms and eschew all feeble-minded plans, such that logic come to terms with rationality, policies guised in the proper manner, plans and programmes genuinely pursued and not just papered manifestos. This time, the chorus is not all about the construction on infrastructure, emergency on power, or the revamp in education, or the smart garb for healthcare. However, all of these should be ongoing. This time it’s all about developing and designing an action plan towards the attainment of the global goal on climate action. To achieve this, here is what I propose: since Nigeria is classed into geo-political zones, for the purpose of this write up, the zones should be addressed as a region. Therefore, to achieve a wholesome objective, these are the suggested actions:
Regional planning should lead the way in the action plan that is to be developed, drafted and designed. When this has been successfully done, ‘economic planning’ need follow suit. Economic planning allows all sectors of the economy to specially recognize with resources allocated and distributed to them equitably. The idea is such that GNP, agricultural production, services and investment increase considerably. Order and speed is vital, so much so that the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners innovatively defined Planning as the act of “bringing the future in to the present to do something about it now”. In that regard, consistent policies, economic reforms and institutional reforms that are capable of sustaining actions against climate change should be on the radar of policy making debates. In another words the process can be termed ‘Innovative Planning’.
Most importantly, if Nigeria wants to elude carbon emission completely by 2050, ‘fixed planning’ is worth considering. To do this, rigidly fixed plan periods has to be prepared with each plan period having its specific objective. In everyone’s respect awareness and climate change education for the first five years (2015-2020) should be recommended. For a period of fifteen years (2020-2035): diversifying energy sources for power/electricity generation, commitment towards agricultural development and research on renewable energy, enforcement of all related environmental laws and also building of a robust mass transportation system to reduce the number of automobiles on the roads can all be set as the next objective/plan.
From 2035-2040, an appraisal of what has been achieved would help provide an accurate and precise information about what needs to be done. This appraisal could span for a period of five years. In line with that, a yearly review of all plans, policies and programmes to accommodate the dynamic conditions inherent in the environment should be vigorously pursued for the next ten years i.e. 2040-2050. During this period, greater commitments need to be exhibited by the government and the citizens in reaching the set goals; this will be the driving force for plans implementation, otherwise the vision 2050 might as well be a hoax.