Embracing Climate-Resilient and Low Carbon Development in Nigeria.

By Mazi Odera
Oseloka H. Obaze
Oseloka H. Obaze

The titles purport yet another exotic, intrusive, gratuitous and externally-induced policy recommendation. However, the just released World Bank climate change reports on Nigeria are propitious and are of immense relevance and importance to Nigerian states, and particularly Anambra State, given its developmental needs, and ecological, economic and political realities.

The dual track focus on "climate-resilient development" and "low carbon development" are instructive. The reports present possible opportunities as well as mammoth challenges, even if juxtaposed against Nigeria's heartwarming steady economic growth that has averaged 7 percent over the past five years and as such, promises an encouraging economic outlook in the years ahead.

Not surprisingly, therefore, those invited to launching on Monday 10 June 2013 of the World Bank Publication; "Toward Climate-Resilient Development in Nigeria" and "Low Carbon Development: Opportunities for Nigeria" at Hilton Transcorp Hotel, Abuja included a blue-ribbon list of federal and state officials and some from the academia, private sector and donor community.

The invitees included Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra, Gov. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe, Federal Ministers Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (CME & Finance), Dr. Akinwunmi Ayo Adeshina (Agriculture and Rural Development) Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman (National Planning) and the co-hosts, eloquent and amiable Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafa, (Environment) and the proactive Ms. Marie François Marie-Nelly, the World Bank's Country Director for Nigeria. Other invitees were Prof. Akin Mabogunje, Dr. Frank Nweke Jr., and Dr. Raffaello Cervigni co-author of the reports. The moderator, Dr. Okey Ikechukwu rendered his habitual magisterial performance. This writer had the distinct privilege of standing in for Gov. Peter Obi.

The two reports, which combined, add up to 348 pages of analysis and recommendations are auspicious, since Nigeria is some 15 years well behind the climate change response curve and must now play fast catch up or face the deleterious consequences of global climate change. Respectively, the reports "spell(s) out the technological and management options available to Nigeria for achieving climate resilience" and "identifies a number of specific actions that Nigeria can undertake" in four key sectors namely, agriculture and land use, oil and gas, power and transport.

Though portions of the reports are written in the hardscrabble, shock therapy lexicon of the World Bank, which may preclude the common man from grasping the critical imports, the report in its combined form, is disturbingly blunt. Consider this reading of a riot act: "If not addressed in time, climate change is expected to exacerbate Nigeria's current vulnerability to weather swings and limit its ability to sustain the objectives of its Vision 20:20-20." In summary, there will be national regrets!

The first natural reaction to the twin report is to characterize them as alarmist. But this is not the case, certainly not in the post-2012 flood disaster, which devastated Anambra and several other states, and certainly not for us in Anambra, where we have the undeserved honour of hosting 1000 active deep-gully erosion sites and other continuing forms of environmental blight. Indeed, the "inconvenient truth" is that Nigeria is now in the race against ecological time, and how well the nation responds to the impending climatic challenges will depend not on the national resources we commit to the process, but on how effectively we manage our fast shrinking response time – with apologies to Peter Drucker. 2

But we face a paradox. Environment is on the concurrent list, which means dual-action policy ownership by the federal and state governments; but the territories being decimated by ecological degradation belongs to the 36 States. Ironically, those who are catalytic to driving and funding the remedial climatic measures -- since they are also heavy polluters -- reside in the organized private sector and well outside the corridors of officialdom where policies are made.

The imminent challenge is how to engender the political will and disposition to policy coordination, coherence and synergy among all actors, who must be part of the long overdue discourse of climatic changes as well as strategic partners in the articulation and execution of the desired policies.

Nigeria, for her part, must overcome the lethargy and disconnect that continue to impede those policies requiring joint federal and state actions. It is gratifying, that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has agreed to a national environmental summit in September 2013. Further delay on such a summit will be inimical to our national interests considering that the likely impact of climate change include: long-term reduction in crop yields of 20-30 percent; declining productivity of livestock, with adverse consequences on livelihoods and pastoralism; large increases in food imports, worsening prospects for food security, particularly in the north and the southwest and long-term decline in GDP of up to 4.5 percent.

A notable but numbing corollary is that in the absence of sound policies aimed at reduction of carbon footprint, "emission of greenhouse gases could more than double in the next two decades, with negative consequences on the local and global environment".

The World Bank's twin reports call for a bond of performance involving all affected sectors, the three tiers of government and critical problem solvers. But there is, however, a genie in the bottle. Desirable as it is to subscribe to and promote the so-called "Green Growth" the realities on the ground at the state level remains sobering for policymakers.

For Anambra State, which has the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) as its mantra and platform, the imperative of reconciling the need for development and poverty reduction with existing resources, production methods and ways and means of using available natural resources, presents a paradox. Whereas the goal is to attain discernible development strides through the efficient use of the lean resources at hand and in the end, provide developmental growth, jobs and wealth creation – all within a healthier environment-- the realties on the ground fly in the face of such noble aspirations.

As a state, Anambra shares in the desire to reconcile economic growth with concerns for climate change. In Anambra, we are also mindful of the need for more efficient use of "low carbon resources" and the compelling desire to mainstream such a critical increment of green growth into our developmental policies in the coming decades. Indeed, we are willing to adapt and adopt policies towards that end. But such desires cannot be tackled in isolation nor without taking into account, the prevailing impediments, which individually or collectively will hinder the attainment of the MDG goals by year 2015.

It is noteworthy that the four critical areas that these publications focus on-- agriculture, and land use, oil, and gas, power and transport -- are all bread and butter issues for Anambra State and critical internally generated revenue (IGR) sectors that will determine the viability and survivability of our state. We note also, the identified measures as well as specific action planks that states could take with a view to embracing the reduction of carbon emission more fully, while promoting broad, 3

crosscutting and evidence-based policies that would drive growth in a cleaner and stable and eco-friendly environment.

Anambra State is not risk averse. Hence, we are attracted to the possible win-win opportunities the World Bank recommendations offer. But states must tackle these challenges within the subtext of a vastly unchanged reality, in which large swaths of the national population subsist on less than $1.25 a day. With this stark poverty, coupled with high unemployment, a burgeoning number of school-aged children not enrolled in schools, we must find a balance of how to deploy policies that spur growth and ease prevailing destitution and yet accommodate the desire for promoting positive climate change policies.

But there are prevailing heady questions which the federal government must tackle in a robust manner and donors, including the World Bank, could assist with. The national goal of improving electricity generation is most commendable but the pace remains laggardly. The absence of energy efficiency nationally, remains a key challenge. Hence, most states and local concerns and processes that would normally be driven by cleaner electricity energy remain married to conventional high carbon emission methods, this include such basic needs as cooking gas at home and in the restaurant and other food service industries.

Although Nigeria produces abundance of natural gas –and still flare most away – less than 25 percent of the national households cook with gas. The remaining 75% must resort to firewood, thus inducing deforestation, carbon emission and related upper respiratory maladies for the users. Still, most Nigerians earning minimum wage could not afford the N3000 required to refill a gas cylinder every quarter, assuming they initially received a cooker and the gas cylinder gratis. One positive development is that a few states have retrofitted their secondary school kitchens with gas burners. One school in Anambra, Christ the King College Onitsha is one line for such gas appliances, not courtesy of the State government, but via an eco-friendly kitchen project sponsored by its US-based alumni. For its part, the federal government could make cooking gas affordable and as cheap as kerosene or firewood, by using the funds presently dedicated to Sure-P. That would be a good start.

As willing as we are in Nigeria to walk away from conventional approach– or traditional ways – of doing things, the target goal of achieving 32 percent lower carbon emission by the year 2020, while attractive, seems to overlook the associated cost-ratio of attaining that target.

Then there is the inevitable opportunity cost of what is a presumably cheaper and diversified electricity source, including the use of concentrated solar power (CSP) and compressed natural gas (CNG) -driven electricity plants. Even if we were able to promote demand-side energy efficiency, including vastly enhanced residential usage, the associated cost of moving from the prevailing basics to the optimal and also the enhancing the existing energy distribution infrastructure remains prohibitive. As of now, key support hydro-electricity facilities at Bakalori, Zobe, Gurara, Kashambilla, Kano, Hadejia and Shiroro are all non-performing. Sadly, it is only the culture gratification tied to power generation contracts and bureaucratic inertia that is preventing Nigeria from frog leaping as it did with GSM phones, from the pervasive use of generators to the use of concentrated solar power (CSP) sources in private homes.

As regards the transport sector, Anambra State today can boast of the best intra-state road network in the federation. However, same cannot be said of federal highways that traverse the state and for that matter, the entire south-east zone. These highways are required for heavy industrial and commercial haulage and interstate mass transit and must therefore be in good conditions, more so in the absence of freight rail transport. 4

i Hon. Oseloka H. Obaze is the Secretary to the Anambra State Government

One could go on to enumerate other prevailing challenges. These are realities, which should not discourage us from seeking climate-resilient development, but all the same, cannot be ignored. As desirable as growth is, we are all aware that alone, growth will not guarantee less poverty especially in the absence of equitable income distribution. Thus, we must continue to focus on good governance policies that empower the people, create employment, generate income and reduce dependence on government. Unfortunately, these efforts in the near and medium-term can only be sustained through the prevailing not-so-eco-friendly methods.

We in Anambra State remain constructively engaged with the international donor community. Anambra is a well-accepted beneficiary of various ongoing partnerships. In Anambra, we are all for gains and transformation of development and support fully the quest to reduce global poverty, enhance education and improve overall human conditions. We need to promote investments that would assist us in developing our infrastructure, even if incrementally.

Nonetheless, we are deeply introspective when it comes to the associated social costs of using new technology to tackle poverty. Certainly, we cannot afford social restiveness and upheavals or to kill off our struggling small and medium scale industries that offer employment, in the name of climate resilient development, more so, when these industries already face strangulating competition from cheaper imported goods.

All the same, we do not share the view that poverty will always be with us – but as has been observed recently, global poverty is no longer reflection of scarcity, as much as it is a problem of "identification, targeting and distribution" of resources no matter how lean. The latter notion speaks eloquently to the need for coherent national environmental policies in which the 36 states have stakeholder's ownership and are the core drivers. There will be shared concerns, shared responsibilities, but also peculiar priorities driven by unmet needs and availability of resources.

The World Bank and the authors of its climate reports on Nigeria must be applauded. Their contention in the report that "with the right combination of better knowledge, more evidence-based environmental; policies, better governance and adequate funding, Nigeria could rapidly seize many win-win opportunities" is gratifying. Minister of Environment Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafa, a true environmental activist, is versed fully on what is required to move the nation forward. She and her team deserve our unalloyed national support in making Climate-Resilient and Low Carbon Development in Nigeria a reality. The envisaged national summit will add impetus to her mandate, but greater advocacy on the impact of climate change at the grassroots remains an imperative.

The Peter Obi administration mindful of Anambra's ecological challenges will continue its proactive good governance strides and thus remain committed and open discussions on how to enhance Climate-Resilient and Low Carbon Development in Nigeria. Inevitably, the Administration's policies will still be based on existing realities, peculiarities and compelling needs of the Anambra people. Hence, Anambra will continue to buy into and embrace those policies where it finds convergence and those processes that bring added value and are germane to the interest of Anambra people.

Finally, the national challenge now, is to have environmental policies that are robust, introspective, implementable and sufficiently broad in scope for each state to find its buy-in niche. With that Nigeria, a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, would have commenced its belated national trudge towards Climate-Resilient and Low Carbon Development in Nigeria.