For all nations to be on board, the developed countries must fulfil their promises
The ongoing 26th Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, is unlike other conferences. At the sessions which end tomorrow, there have been a sense of urgency for global leaders to move from mere pronouncements to action in dealing with carbon emissions that heat up the earth, causing extreme weather conditions like flooding, drought, and wildfires. There has also been an urge to fast track the implementation of these commitments entrenched in the Paris Agreement to ensure the survival of all humanity. The ultimate goal is to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, to keep the rise in the global average temperature to well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels while leaders at COP26 settled for 1.5 degrees, as recommended by scientists.
Specifically, the target is to achieve net zero emission of carbon by 2050 with considerable reduction by 2030 to show that there is identifiable progression to the goal. To achieve this, countries submitted their nationally determined contributions, that is, what they intend to implement to reduce carbon emission and to ultimately stop the emission by 2050. These actions include stopping the burning of crude oil, coal, and gas to power their factories, and to stop manufacturing vehicles and power plants that use these fuels. The focus is on the use of renewable energy – solar, electric and wind, among others.
However, there are salient issues of equity. There are suspicions by developing countries that this pledge may not be honoured. The critical point is that the developed world is under pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This means reducing investment in fossil fuels (crude oil and coal) and speeding up the transition to green energy. But Africa, especially Nigeria, is yet to achieve progress in fossil fuel energy, let alone discussing transition to greener energy.
According to the World Resources Institute, Africa’s per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the year 2000 were 0.8 metric tonnes per person, compared with a global figure of 3.9 tonnes per person. In fact, the highest emitters in the G20 are responsible for around 80 per cent of global emissions, while Africa’s only 2-3 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industrial sources. This accounts for the strident calls for provision of support to Africa and other developing nations, particularly with the commitment to mobilise $100 billion from developed to developing nations.
The questions therefore are: should there be a transitional provision for African countries or should Africa leapfrog along to greener energy in the hope that we can reap the benefits while being stuck with our dirty fossil fuel dependent economies? Can Nigeria survive without its hydrocarbon dependency? So many questions to ponder, but we suspect our leaders are not even paying attention to what is going on.
There are three things embedded in the discussions at this COP26 that should interest Nigeria and other developing countries: the $100 billion in climate finance, global goal on adaptation, and loss and damage, which are economic and non-economic harms caused by climate change impact that cannot be avoided through adaptation or mitigation. But much more importantly, for all nations to be on board, the developed countries must come good on their promises.