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Nigeria: Climate change will wreak havoc on North - Rep

30 November -0001

Kano:  Hon. Ezeuche Ubani, chairman, Climate Change Committee, House of Representatives, feels now is the time for concerted effort and legislation to save the climate. He spoke to Desmond Mgboh in Kano.

What is climate change?:   The House, as you are aware, has been very proactive on the issue of climate change. In fact, they have been much more proactive than the other tiers of government. For instance, the House of Representatives has created a committee on climate change of which I am the chairman. The reason we did that is that the issue of climate change and the threat it poses to sustainable development has become very critical. So that is why everybody is talking about it, doing something about it at this present moment.

So the House created a committee and that committee has been working. The House is at the moment considering a bill creating the Nigeria Climate Change Commission. This commission is supposed to be a lead agency dealing with the issue of climate change in the country. And there are so many other legislations that we are mandated to come up with for the House to pass. Now, why is climate change very important? Why should Nigeria pay attention to climate change? The issue is there. There is the present danger and of course like most issues Nigeria has been laid back. Of course, a place like Kano is a frontier state where the impact of climate change is supposed to be much more devastating and as of now, the evidence is all over the place as I am talking to you in Kano .

I do remember that once, a Kano State government official had declared that desert encroaches on Kano land by the average of about 10 kilometers per year. So you can see the desert coming. And you can imagine the consequences of that. What it means is that when the desert encroaches, the people lose their homestead, whole villages are forced to move on, migrate down South to where the environment is more habitable for habitation, people lose their land for agriculture ……and grazing for people who are herdsmen.

People lose sources of water. You see, there is a total dislocation and disorganization that the people suffer with regards to their means of livelihood and in their income and in the eco-system and in terms of community. You know, that what has been happening. If you notice, water is gradually becoming a problem here. You can see there is no water in Kano and this is a place that depends on agriculture and so many other things. So, that is the reason why this community needs to pay sufficient attention to climate change, pay attention to this challenge.

States most affected:  Yes we have! We are talking to them and we are writing to them. Very soon, we would be able to convene a kind of submit. We wish they would come and listen to the experts we are going to bring and then we would tell them what other countries are doing and what they should be doing themselves in terms of dealing with these issues, both the state and local government areas. We are getting responses…. Lagos State is responding, Cross River State is responding, Akwa Ibom is responding positively as well as others and I know that they are going to come on board. I hear that Niger and Kaduna are also on board. A place like Kano should take that seriously as a major agenda of governance here.

Late action?:   I don’t think so. I don’t think that there is any time that is too late particularly when you look at what is called the political protocol, that is, the governing protocol on how states should relate and deal with issues of climate change. Nigeria is not one of the “annex one” countries; the rate of emission of carbon from Nigeria is particularly very low. So, we have some kind of advantages from what we emit here. But then the point is that, that is an opportunity for us to come up with a policy to deal with the issue, so that it does not escalates.

And too, it is also very dangerous for us to keep quiet because in the atmosphere, there are no boundaries. There are no states in the atmosphere. So what ever carbon that is emitted goes straight to the atmosphere. Somebody can mess up in China and then the impact is being felt here for what you didn’t do. So there is no such time as responding very late or that we are not doing these things early enough. We can still sign up now and do what we have to do, do what other countries are doing and then deal with this matter.

Compensation:  Actually, climate change is also a threat and also an opportunity. There is something they called the CDM, which is the Clean Developmental Mechanism. It is considered that Africa and several other countries that have rain forest, the rain forest is supposed to be sink for carbon. When we had a natural habitat, when the eco system has not been so disturbed, what maintains that balance is that they have these trees that can absorb carbon dioxide.

Now, the argument right now is that when countries invest their wealth on certain projects, they are supposed to be reimbursed- projects like planting trees and forestry and some particular kind of agriculture and then some projects, that is the kind of energy that you use, whether it is hydro, or nuclear power- they are supposed to be reimbursed for that. There are countries that have made a lot of money from this. Countries like Brazil are making a lot of money from this.

China and India, they are making a lot of money from this. What the world has been able to agree is that we, who are the lower emitters of carbon should be able to reap from that, attract a lot of money for the development in other sectors. But then there is something we need to do, because the way it was structured is that these projects should be able to conform to the standards and protocols, which means that if we have to it here, it has to be clear that these things meet standards of the protocol for you to be able to redeem the money specified in the protocol for those projects. But unfortunately that is the area where we are not paying so much attention because governance of climate change issues in the country is still very rudimentary. We don’t have laws; we don’t have any single legislation on climate change.

Other countries have a comprehensive bill or law on climate change governing how these things should be done or structured. They have institutions and they have all kinds of protocols within that help them to attract all of these. Our job, t

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