As Presidents across some African countries joined Nigeriaâ€™s President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday to commission the worldâ€™s largest single-train 650,000 barrels per day refinery in Lagos, parliamentarians from different nations on the continent have raised fundamental questions on issues of climate change and pollution.
While they acknowledged the refinery will reposition Nigeriaâ€™s economy for good they raised concerns over the possible impacts of the emissions from the plant.
The event, which coincided with the inauguration of the refinery in the same city of Lagos on Monday, was the West African Parliament Conference on Climate Change convened by the African Group of Negotiators Expert Support (AGNES) in collaboration with Nigeriaâ€™s National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) and the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC).
Climate change versus refinery According to AGNESâ€™ Director of Climate Policy and Research, David Awolala, Nigeria in its efforts to become an industrialised nation â€œmust keep on the path of development,â€ and be able to manage its externalities â€“ the negative impacts of industrialisation.
He suggested that Dangote Group needs to focus more on renewable energy, especially those that have cooling effects on their production processes.
The DG of NILDS, Abubakar Sulaiman during the opening session. â€œSo once they invest money into their renewable energy it is definitely what we call green energy. It will definitely reduce impact on the society,â€ he said
Similarly, a consultant to NILDS, Emmanuel Oladipo, said the company should manage its resources to start looking for alternative energy sources, particularly, the renewable energy sources.
â€œThat will now mean once you have the source of the power, source of electricity from other sources, then including the use of electric cars, that will now reduce the dependency on Dangote refinery for fuel,â€ he said.
Less pollution, more devastation Speaking on Monday at the conference, the Director-General of NILDS, Abubakar Sulaiman, emphasised the need for African countries to collaborate with other continents to adopt policies on climate change adaption and mitigation.
He said Africa contributes less than 4 per cent to global emissions but suffers more than any other part of the world in terms of the consequences of climate change.
Mr Sulaiman said â€œunless countries act collectively, the world might not be able to attain the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degreesâ€ -a legally binding international treaty signed by more than 190 countries.
The NILDS boss noted that while other countries entrench measures to de-risk their consumption and production system to deliver on greenhouse emission targets, â€œAfrican countries especially those in the West African region, have continued to grapple with multidimensional poverty.â€
According to the US Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions, a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target is a state-level goal to reduce emissions by a specific amount by a pre-determined date.
READ ALSO:Â Nigerian Institute ready to collaborate with Ghanaian Parliament â€“ Official The targets can cover all greenhouse gas emissions or specific gases (e.g. carbon dioxide only).
According to Mr Sulaimon, Africa can only achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 if countries act together to ensure that choices in resource allocation, â€œreward sustainable consumption and production.â€
The DG of NILDS, Abubakar Sulaiman during the opening session. He added that if deliberate measures are not taken to pursue green growth and sustainable development, â€œthe positive results that have been recorded in other sectors would be rolled back by the adverse impact of climate change through flooding, increased warming, desertification, and deforestation.â€
According to the WHO African Region, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress between 2030 and 2050.
About conference The conference had parliamentarians from more than 10 African countries to map out strategies to fight the climate change menace.
The countries are Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, CÃ´te Dâ€™ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
In his remarks, the Director of AGNES, Raymond Kasei, a Kenyan, said the aim of the conference and workshop is to sensitise members of parliaments in the area of climate change and strengthen them in their legislation oversight activities within their various parliaments.
â€œWe also seek to share ideas because some countries are further ahead in legislation in the areas of climate change and environmental development, as opposed to others who are probably about to start,â€ he said.
Mr Kasei added that the deliberations at the conference will prepare African countries ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP 28) that is coming up in December in Dubai to deliberate more on the area of implementation of strategies.
Addressing journalists on the sideline of the conference, the Director-General of NCC, Salisu Dahiru, said bringing together parliamentarians and technocrats in the climate change discourse â€œis one surest way of closing that gap.â€
He said: â€œOne missing factor that is common in most African countries is the absence of a law or legislation that will back the policies that the governments are formulating.
â€œAnd without this law, you cannot hold government, individuals or the private sector accountable for the implementation of those steps that are needed to help us control or manage the situation that we find ourselves in with respect to climate change.â€
Legislative support, funding Meanwhile, the NILDS boss noted that parliamentarians must ensure that laws passed in Africa and the allocation of resources in national budgets are conducted in a manner that enables commitment to zero net emissions.
He said the climate change Act passed by Kenya and Nigeria in 2016 and 2021 respectively, require further legislative engagement, saying to address the challenge of global climate change, countries require local actions that would complement global efforts.
On funding, Mr Sulaimon added that the Global Climate Fund (GCF) provides an opportunity for developed countries to support developing countries in national climate actions on adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction.
He noted that the funding arrangement requires countries to mobilise domestic resources as well.
â€œAs legislators, therefore you are to use the opportunity you have through the budget defence to ask MDAs to respond to questions on how they are contributing to attain net zero in the sectors they oversight,â€ he added.