Abuja climate march and the National Assembly

By Smart Chukwuma

As world leaders from more than 190 nations are gathered at the United Nations’ Climate Summit (COP21) in Paris, France from November 30 – December 11, 2015 to deliver a bold new international climate agreement, a group known as Coalition of Abuja Climate Groups to join with other hundreds of thousands of climate and environmental activists around the world who are organizing marches and other various climate events in support of COP 21 in Paris, to which the Paris agreement will positively impact on Nigeria’s climate policies.

Development organisations, climate movements, people young and old, faith groups, indigenous people, trade unions and many more will march together globally. Together, they will demonstrate that tackling climate change is important to all of us, and urge leaders to sign an ambitious climate agreement in Paris that will see countries scale up action until the job is done.

Abuja Climate Marchtook off from Unity Fountain, Maitama, Abuja and was initiated and led by Mr. Smart Chukwuma Amaefula, a Climate change Expert and Environmental activist. They marched through the ShehuShagari way to National Assembly. The participants, wearing beautiful crested green T shirts and carrying placard that read their several demands such; “Nigeria must reduce carbon emission, Pass the National Climate change Commission bill, Renewable energy is the path to sustainable development, enforce carbon tax, Climate Justice now, stop gas flaring” etc.

At the gate of the National Assembly, they were received by Hon. ObinnaChidoka, the House CommitteeChairman on Climate change who represented the National assembly. The group read out their letter of demand to the National Assembly amid tight security. In response, the Chairman commended the effort of the group to organize a peaceful climate protest and making those demands in a time like this that Climate change is a global issue. He promised the group that the National will look into their demand and ensure their implementation.

The Abuja Climate March was a peaceful solidarity walk organised. The aim was to raise awareness on issues of climate change and other environmental degradation in Nigeria.  Part of the content of their letter to the National Assembly read thus; “Global data is clear that rising temperatures will cause disruptions to economic, agricultural and even political systems all over the world. In Nigeria, where our infrastructure is already fragile and our population is rapidly increasing, such disruptions could mean disaster.

The raised a concern that in September 2015, world leaders committed to a new set of global goals for sustainable development. These goals, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a roadmap for the next 15 years and if leaders keep their commitments, could end extreme poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change. The new global goals symbolise an important shift in development, recognising that these three issues are interlinked and what’s more, that climate change could undermine all the progress we have made in eradicating poverty and inequality thus far.

Before attention turns to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, Nigerian government has the opportunity to deliver bold new climate policies which can send a strongsignal that the age of dirty fossil fuels is over and set us instead on a path to a safer, fairer and more sustainable future for all.

As our nation prepares to send delegates to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21), we Nigerian citizens want to demand that our government’s actions go beyond mere lip service. The conference’s objective is to achieve a legally-binding and universal agreement on the world’s rapidly warning climate from all the nations of the world and Nigeria must take this responsibility seriously.

Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest contributors of global emission of CO2, but we believe we can do better. Our leaders must take concrete steps to protect the environment and reduce its emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHG) by passing new laws and enforcing those already in place. We demand action to mitigate the encroaching desertification in the North, the flooding and drought in the middle belt, the soil erosion in the East, rising sea levels on our coasts and the wide scale destruction of our agricultural activities and forests across the country”.

Coalition of Abuja Climate groups is a partnership made up of several individuals and organisations such as Oxfam and other international organization in Abuja who are primarily interested and passionate about health of our environment through the adoption of green technology and other climate-friendly practices that will assure sustainable development. They are part of a global movement of people working together to further climate justice for all.

Chukwuma, a climate change expert and environmental activist, wrote from Abuja. Email: [email protected]