By Ade Olu
Speakers at the maiden South- East Climate Change Summit in Awka, have appealed to Nigerians to relate responsibly with the environment and to take responsibility for mitigating the negative impacts of climate change on the country.
They are of the view that climate change can be effectively tackled with local measures with the cooperation and support of all segments of the society.
In a technical paper presentation, the Project Co-ordinator, Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project, NEWMAP in Anambra State, Mr Mike Ivenso, identified some of the local actions Nigerians can take to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, which include: rain harvesting, construction of catchment pits reforestation, as well as regard for existing environmental laws, among others.
He stressed the need for concerted efforts towards salvaging humanity from the devastating impacts of climate change. “Everyone, everywhere is affected by climate change inspite of who caused it,” he noted.
Addressing the gathering, which has as its theme “Limiting Climate Change through Local Action”, the member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North and South Federal Constituency of Abia State and sponsor of Climate Change Bill at the House of Representatives, Hon. Sam Onuigbo, acknowledged the efforts of critical stakeholders, which led to its passage into law and subsequent assent by the president.
Hon Onuigbo, while tasking the stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of the Act, stressed the need for Nigeria to join other nations of the world, which had embraced the use of renewable energy as against fossil fuel, which according to him is fast losing global relevance and economic value.
“We should really work more to make sure we are not left behind. For example, let us say that a state like Anambra invest in providing energy through renewables and partners with private and international bodies to set up renewable energy grids, waste to energy and also invest in climate smart agricultural practices, the state would have through that singular action addressed two critical issues confronting its citizens namely: provision of energy to power industries and while it is also providing massive employment to its citizens”.
Gladly, the Governor-Elect, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, has shown remarkable interest in climate change and I look forward to Anambra leading again from the front”.
In an address of welcome, the Director, Centre for Climate Change at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Dr Ezenwaji, had earlier noted with disapproval that states of South-East Region are lagging behind in issues of climate change, despite the enormous challenges it poses to the environment.
“The non-challance of the state and local governments towards climate issues will continue to undermine the Federal Government’s efforts in this regard. State governments especially in the South-East are yet to place any emphasis on climate change and related matters”.
“The issue of climate change is handled to fulfill all righteousness as can be seen from the climate change obscure desks in these ministries, being manned by sometimes frustrated officers. Many usually do not have any budgetary provision for climate change and when they have, such a provision is rarely released to the ministries or the desks,” Dr Ezenwaji regretted.
While declaring it open, the Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Professor Charles Esimone, described the event and its theme as apt, even as he listed the destructive impacts of climate change to include: droughts, water scarcity, wild fire, rising sea levels, flooding and catastrophic storms among others.
“The climate change is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone among others, arising from human activities, the burning of fossil fuel, primarily coal, oil and gas, landfills and massive deforestation.
“These activities could be described as local as they take place within the location of industrial firms, communities and nations. Just as the causes of climate change are said to be local, so also can its remediation arise from local action, as suggested in the theme of this summit”.
Participants expressed optimism that the summit would mark the beginning of efforts towards tackling climate change through local action in the region.