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COP26 pact, Nigeria pledges net zero by 2060… top climate stories of 2021

COP26 pact, Nigeria pledges net zero by 2060… top climate stories of 2021
December 23
13:56 2021

As many countries sought solutions to the devastating impact of climate change on communities, through wins achieved at COP26 and Nigeria making history with the climate change law, there were many reasons 2021 was a great year for the environment.

However, with the unimpressive ranking on how climate change affects Nigerian children and the disappointment in relation to the decision on coal at COP26, there is still much left to be done as the world turns the page into a new year.

Below are some events that made an impact on climate change in 2021.

COP26 AND THE GLASGOW PACT

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At COP26, countries came together hoping to make great progress from the negotiations, but amid the achievements recorded, there was a disappointing last-minute compromise on coal.

Countries had earlier agreed to “phase out” coal but the final draft had “phase down” instead, after China and India pushed for a change in language.

Although countries complained that the final provisions did not go far enough to keep the 1.5 degrees target alive, the final draft was accepted.

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BUHARI SIGNS CLIMATE CHANGE BILL INTO LAW

A big win for climate change in Nigeria was President Muhammadu Buhari giving assent to the climate change bill. The bill, which was earlier declined by the president in 2019, was revisited by the ninth assembly. Buhari eventually signed the bill on November 18 — five days after COP26.

Elated by the development, Sharon Ikeazor, minister of environment, defined it as Nigeria’s loudest statement after COP26.

US REJOINS PARIS AGREEMENT

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On November 4, 2020, the US under former President Donald Trump officially withdrew from the Paris agreement. This was, however, short-lived as Joe Biden signed to bring the US back into the Paris agreement immediately he assumed office on January 20

In the light of this, Nigeria congratulated the US on rejoining the agreement. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who commended the decision, reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to a transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

NIGERIA PLEDGES NET ZERO BY 2060

At COP26, Buhari said Nigeria aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060. But this is 10 years later than the UN target of 2050. 

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He also said there is an urgent need for action on the environment because climate change is ravaging Nigeria.

However, Nigeria is not the only country that has delayed the target. Countries like India and Russia aim for 2070 and 2060, respectively.

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YOUTH CLIMATE ACTIVISTS GATHER IN MILAN

This year, hundreds of youth climate activists from almost 200 countries gathered in Milan to adopt a collective declaration to be delivered at COP26. 

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During the conference, Greta Thunberg, Swedish environmental activist, said talks and promises by leaders are filled with “blah blah blah”, accusing them of being all talk and no action. 

Similarly, Joy Egbe, a Nigerian climate activist, said African countries should quit making excuses on contributing little to global warming and start taking responsibility for their actions.

NIGERIA RANKED SECOND-HIGHEST RISK COUNTRY

Nigeria wasn’t spared by the impact of climate change this year, so much so that the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) ranked it as the second-highest risk country where children are susceptible to the impact of climate change. 

This report by TheCable also showed how climate change affects children health and education.

OSINBAJO KICKS AGAINST DEFUNDING GAS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

On different occasions, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo maintained that Nigeria will continue to advocate that funding for gas and fossil fuel projects in the country and other developing countries be sustained during the global transition to net-zero emissions.

According to him, placing a ban on gas investments in developing nations raises questions around equity, justice and inclusion. 

BUHARI TAKES OVER LEADERSHIP OF GREAT GREEN WALL INITIATIVE

In December, it was announced that Buhari had taken over the leadership of the great green wall initiative (GGW). Sharon Ikeazor, minister of state for the environment, said the president’s tenure will last for two years.

For the GGW, Buhari has also not relented in seeking support to implement the project.

CLIMATE CHANGE, CHOLERA AND THE NIGERIA EXPERIENCE

Every year, cholera ravages Nigeria during the rainy season and leads to deaths. In 2021, more than 3,000 persons have died from cholera. This report by TheCable established a connection between climate change and cholera outbreaks. 

Research also showed that cholera-causing bacteria are mostly found in the faeces of infected persons, which according to Chukwumerije Okereke, a professor of global environmental and climate governance, can be easily transported by flood when it rains. 

UN RELEASES SIXTH CLIMATE CHANGE ASSESSMENT REPORT

The latest UN climate change report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that human activities have caused damage to the earth that will be irreversible over hundreds and thousands of years. 

This sparked reactions with calls from stakeholders on the need for a wake-up call for the world to switch from fossil fuels to renewables.



This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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