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Climate Watch: Green House Gas and Vehicular Emission in Nigeria

By Rotimi Ajayi

As nations prepare for the most crucial conference on climate change in Durban end of this month, every developing country attending the meeting may not make any fundamental change in their negotiation points.

The rigidity will be born out of the realization that they, as developing nations and least developed countries (LDCs), (as they are aptly described in the Kyoto Protocol (KP) on Climate Change), contributes less to the Green House Gases (GHGs) responsible for the global warming.

The argument has always been that the Industrialized nations, (the Kyoto’s Annex 1) countries contributed more than 95% of the GHGs and so they should equally bear the brunt of financing the mechanisms that will make the developing and LDCs adapt and overtime lessen the impacts of climate change on their people.

This has been the crux of the disagreement since Kyoto came into legal reality on February 16, 2005 almost 8 years after it was negotiated in 1997.

The major disagreement has been the emission reduction target, set by the KP, which binds the Industrialised nations to reduce their emissions by 5.2% of the 1990 levels by the year 2012. The 2012 deadline for the KP makes the Durban meeting a crucial one if the world will ever arrest the running away GHG levels.

Effect of climate change

Nigeria will go to the South African meeting with a number of demands which are largely in sync with the African Group of the developing nations. Notwithstanding the veracity of the argument of this group of nations, COP 15 in Copenhagen started the increasing demand on these nations too to begin to track their emission levels.

Indeed the tracking of the national GHG emission levels is a crucial component of the KP’s mechanism for the various Funds put in place to combat the impacts of climate change.

One major emission problem that has always been put at the doorsteps of Nigeria is the flaring of associated gas by the Petroleum Companies operating in Nigeria. It has often been said that this flaring could account for significant percentage of the overall Nigeria’s GHG levels.

As it is, combination of miss-up policies and territoriality on the part of Federal Government Agencies are prevent any effective move to curb the flaring and this may come back to haunt Nigeria one day in our Climate Change negotiations.

Next to flaring of associated Petroleum gases is the emission from the vehicles on Nigeria roads. This problem has become acute in virtually every Nigerian City and sub-urban.

Speaking at a Forum on Environmental Regulations on Five Years of National Environmental Standards and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in Abuja last week, former Minister of Environment, Architect Tayo Alao underscored the problem as one of the Environmental hazards facing Nigerians.

Apart from immediate health Hazards, vehicular emission contributes immensely to the carbon footprint of nations. In Australia where regulations are very tight, emissions from Vehicular Transport accounts for 13.5% of the annual GHG. United States; 27% as at 2003.

Here in Nigeria, according to Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba of Nigeria Environmental Study Action Team(NEST), poverty has aggravated the problem to the level where everyone’s health is in serious jeopardy. He pointed out that the level of income could not afford many Nigerians the opportunity of buying new cars which would enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emission.

Another factor which he identified as compounding the vehicular emission problem in Nigeria is lack of effective regulation enforcement. This has made it difficult to monitor maintenance of vehicles by owners. His position was buttressed by the Chair of the House Committee on Environment, Uche Ekwunife at same NESREA Forum.

She said, “Beyond the celebrations, it is important for NESREA to understand that the time has come for it to move from posing the environmental question to providing the much needed environmental answers. The time has come for NESREA to come up with creative and imaginative strategies to make both private and corporate environmental polluters pay for environmental clean-up and protection.”

Controlling vehicular emission is part of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol and in order to gain maximum advantage from this, there may be the need to outsource the control from the usual inaptitude of Government Agencies. A national workshop on implementation of the CDM will look into this issue this week in Abuja.

 


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