IN recent time, climate change has become an unusual challenge posing a major threat to the survival of nations. To underscore the new reality of climate change as a global menace, it is now being appropriately tackled not only as mere environmental worry but as a more complex problem with multiple effects on health, agriculture, water supply, economic growth, among other essential human related issues.
Simply put, climate change denotes changes occurring in the earth’s climate system and the impacts such changes are having on eco-systems and society. Major features in climate change are changes in the concentration of sunlight getting to the earth and in the absorption of volcanic dust, which reflects sunlight back to space.
These factors modify the quantity of sunlight that is taken in by the earth’s climate system. As a result of increased in industrial activities and other human factors such as greenhouse gas concentrations, ozone depletion, air pollution and alterations in land use, the threat of climate change has increased considerably across the globe.
Today, lots of the disasters being witnessed in the world are traceable to climate change. Such disasters include flood, heat, mudslide, landslide, fiercer weather condition, increased frequency and intensity of storms, desertification, and water shortage, among others. In recent time, millions of people world-wide have been affected by deadly floods resulting from torrential rains in China, Australia, Japan, United States of America, Indonesia and Brazil. All of these experiences are largely traceable to global warming-induced climate change which is posing major threats to lives, food security and businesses. Lagos has had its own fair share of such agonising rains in recent time.
Being a government that tackles far reaching social issues with scientific and strategic precision, the Lagos State government has put in place appropriate mechanism to respond to the threat of climate change. Understanding the danger of global warming to its environment, the state government has been in the fore-front of combating the challenge of global warming in the country. It has held several international global warming conferences in addition to making several advocacy campaigns on the subject in recent time.
The state government has equally evolved several practical measures to deal with the climate change phenomenon. It has, for instance, restructured and empowered the Lagos State Emergency Agency, LASEMA, Fire Service, LASAMBUS, the Lagos State Building Control Agency and other relevant agencies to respond as quickly as possible to disasters in order to reduce loss of lives and properties arising from effects of climate change.
Equally, the state government is increasingly combating the effects of climate change through public awareness, legal and institutional framework, campaign against desertification and control of pollution and launching of climate change clubs in schools. Similarly, greening programme, tree planting and flood control are key programmes of the current administration that are embarked upon in partial response to global warming and climate change.
Also, the Lagos State Summit on Climate Change is one of the steps being taken to draw local and global attention to the threat of climate change. The summit, which started in 2009, offers great prospect to the state government to harness ideas from relevant stakeholders on how to address the climate change concern. This is necessary in view of the recognition that climate change has no boundary. The crux of discussions by experts and stakeholders at the summit, which has become yearly event, mainly centred on nature, causes, effects and mitigating steps in rescuing the state from destruction by climate change. What this summit has achieved can be inferred from the statement of the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) at a recent World Habitat Day forum when he disclosed that the government has been using decisions from the hugely successful summits as basis for policy formulation and implementation in the quest to mitigate the effects of climate change.
To consolidate on the success recorded so far with the previous summits, earlier this year, the state concluded the sixth Climate Change Summit with the theme: “Exploring Business Opportunities in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation”. Part of the communiqué at the end of the summit is that Lagos State should share experiences of resilient cities programmes such as those of Kenya and Rwanda and kick start a process, including public consultation on short, medium and long term targets. Others include a review of all existing Urban Plans and existing Physical Law with an increased focus on mitigating climate change impacts and progress on the Lagos Building Codes initiative, that will promote climate resilient and eco-friendly compact housing to green and climate proof .
As the commercial nerve centre of the country, Lagos State spots a lot of opportunities in the pursuit of climate compatible development, and it is currently channeling its efforts towards harnessing such opportunities which abound in implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Part of the adaptation and mitigation measures which the government has embarked on are the Eko Atlantic City project and the Great Wall of Lagos, spanning seven kilometers that has helped to protect Victoria Island, return businesses to the waterfront and create jobs and other economic opportunities.
Others are the Lagos Independent Power project, Akute Independent Power project and the Alausa independent Power project which have helped to provide steady and gas fired energy that have resulted in the decommissioning of hundreds of diesel fired generators and reduce carbon emissions.
The shoreline protection project of 12 groins out of which six are almost completed are helping to slow down erosion of Atlantic coastline and protect homes in Goshen Beach Estate and will ultimately restore and protect land lost to the sea up to Alpha Beach.
The state government is also working on ways of reducing gas emission through the Green Economy Technologies and the creation of alternative energy sources from solid wastes. For effective management of Lagos State coastal and marine ecosystem in the face of climate change, the state is investing in the institutions to predict local impacts, partnering with adjoining states to build regional response capabilities and flexibilities.
Undoubtedly, Lagos has shown the way forward in the bid to lessen the threat of climate change in the country. With more extreme weather and devastating natural occurrences likely on the prowl, according to experts, public safety and economic security depend on enlisting the collaboration of all stakeholders in combating the menace of climate change in the country.
Tayo Ogunbiyiis a staff of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa,Lagos.