Climate change and poor implementation of environmental policies are two pressing issues that have put Nigeria’s environmental landscape in jeopardy for a while now.
However, this article aims to raise awareness about climate change and how to improve environmental policies in Nigeria, emphasizing the need for urgent action to address these issues. Read along.
Table of Contents
What are Climate Change and Environmental Policies?
Simply put, climate change refers to long-term alterations in Earth’s average weather patterns caused by various factors. These factors primarily include greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and human activities.
Together, these elements lead to a rise in average global temperatures over time, resulting in the numerous consequences we witness today.
On the other hand, environmental policies are guidelines, rules, and regulations implemented by governments or organizations to address various environmental issues. These policies aim to protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and promote sustainable living.
An Overview of Climate Change and Environmental Policies in Nigeria
Over the years, Nigeria has taken some concrete steps towards addressing the menacing challenges of climate change and the improvement of its environmental policies.
So far, one of the most important steps taken is the passing into legislation the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act.
The NESREA act, which was assented to by the then President of Nigeria, His Excellency, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on 30th July 2007 has been described as the flagship law on climate change tackling and environmental protection in Nigeria.
This act is responsible for the protection and development of the country’s environment, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of Nigeria’s natural resources in general.
However, despite the formulation of the NESREA act, the climate change and environmental policies in Nigeria are still in a sorry state. Below are some scenarios that prove this fact:
- In Nigeria, there is still no existing legislative framework on renewable energy aimed at combating climate change.
- There has been a lack of implementation of the existing environmental policies we have in the country.
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- The NESREA Act which is the only existing legislation in Nigeria governing climate change and environmental protection does not regulate the oil and gas sector. This limitation has raised fundamental questions, one of which is, ‘How can oil and gas, which is a major source of environmental degradation and pollution in the country be granted such immunity? Although it may be argued that the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) had established the National Oil Spill Detection and Regulations Agency (NOSDRA) as a blueprint for checking oil spills in the country. Yet, if the NESREA act, which is Nigeria’s topmost environmental law, does not regulate the oil and gas industry, it means that the act cannot be considered effective enough in checking environmental pollution and degradation in Nigeria.
- Above all, it is sad to observe that Nigeria is not among the over 150 nations of the world that have entrenched environmental rights as an enforceable fundamental right in their constitutions. To make matters worse, the citizens only sit on the fence regarding the enforcement of their environmental rights. The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights 1981, has been greatly hampered by poor judicial attitudes and technicalities on environmental cases.
At this point, let’s begin to ask ourselves this crucial question. What urgent action do we need to take to tackle the disconcerting reality surrounding the future of climate change and the environmental policies in our country? Let’s figure out the answers.
Urgent Actions We Should Take to Tackle Climate Change and Implementations of Environmental Policies in Nigeria
Climate change and poor implementation of environmental policies is an alarming challenge to the well-being of Nigerians.
However, these challenges are not unsurmountable as they can be addressed through the following suggested ways.
Identify the root causes of Nigeria’s poor implementation of environmental policies
Let’s be intentional and not beat around the bush. The current state of environmental policies in Nigeria leaves much to be desired. While the nation has made some progress, its policies lack the necessary implementations needed to make them effective.
Examining the root causes of Nigeria’s poor environmental policies is essential to address and rectify them effectively. Factors such as corruption, lack of political will and public awareness, inadequate regulatory frameworks, and limited enforcement mechanisms all contribute to the current situation.
By identifying these root causes instead of focusing on the symptoms, Nigeria can develop tailored strategies to combat each challenge successfully.
Identify the crisis triggers
In tackling climate change, it is important to identify the key triggers exacerbating the crisis. Industrial emissions, unsustainable deforestation practices, and inefficient energy usage are the major contributors to Nigeria’s environmental woes. It’s high time we held these culprits accountable and tackled their harmful practices head-on.
Moreover, the Nigerian government must prioritize adaptation strategies. We all know money talks, but let’s make it speak in favour of our country. It is prime time for the Federal Government to start investing in sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, and environmentally friendly technologies that can help Nigeria transition to a greener and more climate-resilient nation.
Collaborations with international organizations, knowledge sharing, and technological advancements can also help the nation build resilience against the changing climate. It’s time for Nigeria to leverage global expertise and join hands with the international community to develop innovative approaches.
Environmental rights should be encouraged
In the meantime, the court should extend the ambit of locus standi for groups and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to institute public interest litigation, particularly in the field of fundamental rights, including environmental rights.
Education can also be key to a sustainable Nigeria
Since the cornerstone of any transformative movement is education, Nigeria needs to prioritize climate literacy. This involves educating its citizens about the gravity of climate change, its ramifications, and individual actions that can make a difference in the environment.
Improvement in administrative will
We can carry out the above steps but more urgently than before, Nigeria must arise from its lack of administrative will and complacency. We need to join the league of the over 150 right-thinking nations that have environmental rights enshrined into their constitutions as enforceable fundamental rights.
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With climate change knocking on Nigeria’s door, urgent action is needed to safeguard the nation’s future. Also, revamping our environmental policies can pave the path towards sustainable development.
As I suggested earlier, this battle cannot be fought alone. Policymakers, citizens, and the international community must join forces in the quest for a greener and brighter Nigeria. The present decisions will determine if Nigeria’s environmental future is met with disaster or triumph. Thus, the time for action is now!
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Edited by Priscilla Ajayi.
Joshua Yemi Omoifo is researcher, lover of words and freelance writer.
Despite being a law undergraduate, his love for content writing and marketing has led him into acquiring professional digital skills and certifications which include Keyword Research, Content Marketing & SEO certification at Semrush Academy, certified Email Marketing Specialist at Hubspot Academy and certified Digital Marketing Expert at Google Digital Garage.
He is always looking for ways to improve his writing skills and aspires to someday have his work appear in big publications like Forbes, AARP Magazine, Cosmopolitan, TIME Magazine and The New York Times, to name a few.