COP26: PMB Sends Powerful Message To Rich Nations

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President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria succeeded in sending a powerful message to rich nations at the plenary of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, where President Muhammadu Buhari made a strong call to the world’s rich nations to back up their talk with more action.

Buhari’s speech – which centred on a number of issues agitating Africa and the developing countries – criticised the rich countries, the major emitters which brought the world’s climate to this sorry state for making promises toward climate finance that, till date, have remained hollow.

Buhari told the 120 presidents and heads of government from across the globe who came together in Glasgow, Scotland to figure out how to slow down global warming that the goal of transitioning from fossil fuel to clean energy, reaching a Net-zero ambition for greenhouse emission would require critical infrastructure to be in place in developing countries.

 “Parties to the Paris Agreement are expected to transition from fossil fuel to clean energy and reach a Net Zero ambition for greenhouse gases emission.

 “We agree that Net Zero ambition can lead to economic transformation across all sectors. It is a good ambition, but it requires critical infrastructure in place, including for renewable energy. Therefore, in Nigeria, it will take us longer time to get to Net Zero.

“Nigeria – as did all the countries in the developing world – came here to say we are eager to contribute to a greener planet. Even though we are, for all practical purposes, non-emitters, Africa is responsible for a mere five per cent of global emissions – we are nonetheless feeling cheated, oppressed and lied to by the rich nations,” a speech made available to the media by the senior special assistant to the president, Garba Shehu, quoted.

Inspite of the furore over global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, some of the world’s biggest emitters – China, with 11 per cent contribution to global warming and Russia – were absent in person.

Making a case for financial support, Buhari stated that attaining national and global climate change goals would require adequate and sustained technical and financial support to developing countries.

 He added that greater efforts should be channelled towards assisting developing countries to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) commitments through the pledges made by the developed countries to provide at least $100 billion yearly.

The Nigerian leader noted that easier access to climate finance had become imperative because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which battered the economies of developing countries.

The US$100 billion every year to developing countries signed onto from the Paris 2016 climate change accords, as a promise made by the developed countries, has so far proved to be hollow.

Without coming out to bluntly say so, President Buhari pointed at the hypocrisy of the developed world which, having somewhat reached the goal of energy self-sufficiency by imposing standards that would stunt development in countries such as ours: “May I recall that the phenomenal growth of industrial economies has been driven by access to a stable and abundant supply of relatively cheap energy,” Buhari said.

Another big issue for Nigeria and the continent, which he pointed out, was that of the planned defunding of fossil fuels.

“Nigeria has been a major producer on the world stage for 60 years. My government knew that this was an industry we could no longer ignore, still less close down.

“We have introduced reforms in the agriculture sector to reduce reliance on imports.

“We have expanded our protected areas by creating ten additional National Parks, and established a 1,500km long green wall across the frontline states to arrest desert encroachment stretching from the Northwest to the Northeast, and we have stepped up the implementation of afforestation and reforestation programmes, including restoration of coastal/mangrove ecosystem.

“In the area of energy access, Nigeria’s commitment to a just transition is reflected in our ambitious Energy Compact, which includes the government’s flagship project to electrify 5 million households and 25 million people using decentralized solar energy solutions.

“This is a major first step towards closing our energy access deficit by 2030. We also now have a new law to regulate our hydrocarbons sector.”

According to the Buhari, the Petroleum Industry Act recently passed into law is a blueprint that creates the opportunity and incentives for new partnerships to create clean energy.

As the president said in a recent opinion article published by Newsweek on the eve of the Glasgow summit, “there is no single ‘green bullet’ that can be deployed either in Africa or the world that solves concerns of environmentalists whilst simultaneously offering the power to fuel hope of greater wealth and progress for the extra one billion citizens of our African future.

“But there are certain things we can and must do – starting now. We can concentrate on transitioning from fossil fuel power generation that can operate 24 hours a day in all conditions to cleaner production through carbon capture and the conversion of coal and heavy fuel oil power stations to biomass. Equally, we can bring forward new technologies such as mini-hydro power plants which can operate and produce power along shallow waterways without damaging the aquatic life on which local communities are sustained.

“We can also invest in nuclear. Though not renewable it is carbon neutral and capable of producing a baseload, constant electricity production on which sustained economic progress can be built. Nigeria is among a handful of African countries exploring nuclear power, with a research reactor already operational.

“And we can also learn from our friends in Europe and America who do not always practice what they preach. We call on them to lift the moratorium they have placed on fossil fuel investments in Africa. We cannot easily convert gas flaring – a by-product of the oil industry and Nigeria’s single greatest contributor to greenhouse emissions – to energy production without it. There are no such limitations on investment in natural gas power in the West where it is considered a transitional energy source,” he added.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as ‘COP26’, is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference. It is being held at the SEC Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, from October 31 and November 12, 2021, under the presidency of Alok Sharma.

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