REMARKS OF THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT AT THE SENATE COMMITTEE MEETING ON ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE ON 24TH NOVEMBER, 2009

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REMARKS OF THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT AT THE SENATE COMMITTEE MEETING ON ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE ON 24TH NOVEMBER, 2009

PROTOCOL

Your Excellencies, Climate Change has become the most topical issue in global discourse today. The importance of Climate Change in the scheme of global attention was evidenced at the last G8 Summit and the just concluded United Nations General Assembly, where climate change was the foremost issue over and above the issue of economic recession.

We are all aware that the most important and globally accepted agreement to address climate change is the Kyoto Protocol. The processes leading to the Protocol commenced in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro at a UN Climate Convention and by 1997 the industrialized nations agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to take legally binding targets on Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 2012. The Protocol set a binding emission target for 37 industrialized nations. However, the Protocol has virtually failed to address the purpose for which it was signed.

Since the signing of the Protocol by over 184 countries, the green house gas emission situation has taken a turn for the worse as the industrialized nations have not been able to tame their emission level and yet the Protocol will expire in the year 2012.

As a result of the topical nature of the impacts of Climate Change, a 2009 deadline was given two years ago at UN Climate Convention in Bali to complete the negotiation of a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.  The negotiations of the successor to the Protocol are due to be finalized in Copenhagen in December this year which is barely 12 days away.

However, according to a recent report by Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press “Even the gloomiest climate models back in the 1990s didn’t forecast results quite this bad so fast”.  It is sad to note that since the 1997, when global accord to fight global warming began, climate change has worsened and accelerated beyond the predicted science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “As the world has talked for a dozen years about what to do next, new ship passages opened through the once frozen summer sea ice of the Arctic. In Greenland and Antarctica, ice sheets have lost trillions of tons of ice. Mountain glaciers in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa are shrinking faster than before.”

“The latest science is telling us we are in more trouble than we thought,” said Janos Pasztor, Climate Adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. And here’s why: Since an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas pollution was signed in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, the level of carbon dioxide in the air has increased 6.5 percent.

Being the 15th in the series and as a result of its importance, the Conference is expected to come up with a new deal which could be ratified by parties from 2010 to 2011 before its commencement in 2013. Already, a number of conferences and regional meetings devoted to successful negotiation of the new deal have been holding around the World. Nigeria has participated effectively in these meetings. The last of these were in Bonn, Germany and Barcelona Spain.

In preparation of our negotiation position towards Copenhagen, the ministry has taken cue from Mr. President’s declaration that even though we are not one of the countries responsible for the emissions; we are prepared to be part of the efforts to arrest the effects. As a result, Nigeria’s position was put together through meetings of various stakeholders, the national roundtable conference and inter-ministerial committee meetings.  The position has been successfully fused into the Common African Position following the resolutions at the African Union Summit in 2008 that in preparations towards Copenhagen Conference, African nations should build a common African Position.

This Group’s position has taken special recognition of the fact that being an oil producing nation; our country will seek to benefit from the funds that could be deployed for adaptation and mitigation measures as well as for the development of alternative sources of energy and low-carbon economy under the Clean Development Mechanism.

It should be noted that under the Kyoto Protocol, Africa and other developing countries were exempted from any legally binding target mechanism while they are to press for Climate justice under the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Capabilities. Our clamour for Climate Justice will include but not limited to demand for compensation from the polluters for damages caused by global warming.  Indeed this decision has been endorsed by the African Heads of State Summit in July, 2009 in Sirte , Libya .  The Summit also endorsed the setting up of a Special Climate Fund for Africa .

In other to implement these decisions, the summit inaugurated a Committee of African Heads of States on Climate Change (CAHOSCC). The Committee comprises Nigeria, Algeria, Congo Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique and Uganda. In order to facilitate effective presentation of the African position, the African Group will be led at three different levels.  Ethiopia will lead the African Heads of States, Algeria will lead at the Ministerial level while Nigeria will lead at the technical level.

Distinguished Senators, the key messages we are going to pursue in Copenhagen will revolve around Adaptation, Mitigation, Finance, Technology Transfer, Capacity building and Emission Compliance. These building blocks are critical to the dire situation Africa has found itself today in respect of Climate Change.

For us in Nigeria, the up coming Conference in December is very crucial to our Development Agenda and our National Vision. The Climate change scenarios for Nigeria indicate that the climatic variability currently being experienced is likely to increase and intensify. Droughts, floods, erosion and storms are likely to increase in both frequency and intensity while changes expected in the precipitation levels may have negative impacts on our agricultural productivity and food production. In our coastal areas, sea level rise and rising sea temperatures could cause major ecological problems including endangering fishing activities in the whole of southern region. The prospective impacts on our society and the economy will be huge.

Although this administration has intensified efforts to promote low carbon economy in Nigeria, there is still much to be done and we can only do this through enhanced collaboration among the tiers of government and the Private Sector. In our drive for low carbon economy, we have successfully increased the number of registered Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in Nigeria from one to three in the last one year. The first was the Kwale Gas Utilization Projects while the second and the third projects are the Pan Ocean Gas Utilization Project and the Save 80 Fuel Efficient Wood Stove respectively. The last two were registered by the Executive Board (EB) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in February and October this year respectively.

This achievement, first of its kind in Africa, has placed Nigeria ahead of every other African nation in the volume of Certified Emission Reduction (CER) units. The projects would go a long way in reducing problems of deforestation and accompanying land degradation, which is often at the roots of erosion problems across the country. This achievement will also significantly compliment the objectives of Mr. President’s nation-wide Afforestation Program.

As we prepare for Copenhagen, and in view of Nigeria standing in the global arena as well as the wholesale impacts Climate Change will have on us, there is a great need for high level participation of Nigeria at the Copenhagen Conference.  I am using this opportunity to invite the distinguished members of the National Assembly, to join me at the high level segment of the last two days, from 16th -18th December, 2009, when crucial decisions that affects Africa, will be made.

 Mr President has been invited to lead the Nigeria delegation by the Prime Minister of Denmark. The rest of the Nigerian delegation will include a representation from the Executive and Legislative arms, representatives of the governor’s forum, the academia, the private sector, youth, women and civil society. Extensive efforts have been made to ensure a robust Nigerian presence and participation at COP 15.

I thank you all for your attention

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