Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Opinion on the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC

Desert encroachment in Northern Nigeria | Photo Credit: Esther Agbarakwe
"The one message that comes out very clearly is that the world has to adapt and the world has to mitigate ... and the sooner we do that, the less the chances of some of the worst impacts of climate change being faced in different parts of the world." When Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made this statement at the presentation on the fifth assessment report of the IPCC, it sounded like a bitter pill to swallow. The Report titled ‘Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” places human activities at the front of climate change, and paints a glaring picture of a dark future the world faces if mitigation and adoption measures are not taken urgently against climate change.
As Environmentalists world over struggled to take in this "prophesy of doom", their Nigerian counterparts found it much more depressing to imagine the catastrophic impacts this portends for a country really doing nothing on climate change, despite it's already existing impacts.
For Nigerian environmentalist and Founder of FADE Dr Newton Jibunoh, the report has brought further attention to the need to tackle climate change with urgency especially for developing countries because of their poor capacity to mitigate the impact of disasters and poor governance that leads to the mismanagement of disaster relief efforts. "As I approach my late seventies, it is indeed heart warming to know that issues that I have been advocating for, over the last thirty years, have now come to the fore",he saysHe also alluded that citizens of these countries including Nigeria are becoming more aware of the volumes in resources that have been poorly managed in efforts to reconstruct communities and relieve suffering, making them more disenchanted.
The IPCC report indicates that overall crop yields in Africa and South Asia could decline by eight percent by 2050 and yields from tropical fisheries could decline by as much as 40 percent, while demand for food surges as diets change and populations rise in the developing world. In Africa, there will be twice as many people in 2050 as there are today, with Nigeria probably hitting 440million, surpassing that of the United States of America. Food crises will worsen for the country as the price of food is already rising due to the security unrest in some parts of Northern Nigeria where most food for the country is farmed. The developing world has smallholder farms that are responsible for up to 80 percent of food production and it is critical that we act now by investing in practical solutions that strengthen the resilience of smallholder famers and improve the sustainability of their livelihoods. Protocols and initiatives proposed in climate change conventions have not translated into positive progress in developing and underdeveloped countries because the groups who are most against legally binding adaptation and mitigation responses stand to lose a great deal, therefore they will do everything to stall the international cooperation process.
On the report, the Executive Secretary UNFCCC, Ms. Christiana Figueres had this to say, “This report is a tale of two futures – one of inaction and degradation of our environment, our economies, and our social fabric. The other is to seize the moment and the opportunities for managing climate change risks and making transformational change that catalyzes more adaptive and resilient societies where new technologies and ways of living open the door to a myriad of health, prosperity and job-generating benefits. The path of tomorrow is undoubtedly determined by our choices today. We must decide which path to follow”.
Following the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) decision to create a N1billion Fund to support climate change projects in African countries, the Director the AfDB Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department, Alex Rugamba ascertains that Africa remains the most vulnerable continent to climate change impacts however the region receives a very small portion of climate finance in comparison to other continents.
While majority of developed countries keep the rest of the world waiting for a climate deal, it has become essential for developing nations to begin to chart their own plan for adaptation, and some mitigation, as at least contributors to climate change. Nigeria must create its adaptation measures, not waiting for foreign aid. We must begin to focus on building a climate smart generation, stop unfettered exploitation of natural resources and careless growth in carbon emissions, while creating greener jobs, in a green economy.
As an organization, which has been at the forefront of promoting advocacy for over 10 years on mitigating the effects of climate change especially in Nigeria while also proffering adaptation measures to reduce impending disasters, here are some steps we proffer, which are globally accepted in tackling our climate crises;
1.      Increased use of Renewable sources of energy
2.      Adopt a cohesive and sustainable region-wide tree planting campaign framework.
3.      Invest in climate smart agriculture, empowering small scale farmers
4.      Environmental advocacy to classrooms and boardrooms thereby raising a climate smart generation
5.      Urging companies and industries to join the green transition.
6.      Research on combating health issues that will get unique and worse in the future due to the changing climate
With our initiatives such as the Desert Warriors Reality Show, Tree planting campaigns across the six geo-political zones and more recently our“Small Gardens Today, Small Forests Tomorrow”…The Forest Rangers Initiative”, it is our hope that small efforts like ours will be replicated globally so that we may collectively join hands and fight for a sustainable environment.

Written and shared by 
Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE)

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