The need for all Nigerians to begin to act responsibly towards the environment and the climate was the focus of a two-day workshop in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
Participants in their various submissions opined that government and relevant stakeholders must take urgent steps toward addressing the challenges and dangers posed by the effect of climate change.
The workshop tagged: “The Rule of Law and Climate Justice” was organized by the Attorney General Alliance Africa (AGA-Africa) Programme, in collaboration with the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) and the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
NIALS Director General in his remarks, Prof Muhammed Ladan, who identified the oil and gas, mining, and automobile industries as the major drivers of climate change in the country called on the Federal Government FG including all regulatory agencies to in line with the Paris Agreement, 2015 and the national laws, ensure that companies in the industries comply with laid down corporate responsibility action.
According to Prof Ladan, the law provides that all MDAs have desk officers on climate change, while the private sector particularly, those in oil and gas, coal, mining, and automobiles provide information about efforts they are making in ensuring that their products, operations, services, are within the climate goal targeted at reducing carbon emissions.
Citing the intergovernmental panel report which warned against crossing the threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius in other to avert further global warming that triggers climate change, the DG called on participants to harness efforts, especially around climate justice.
He disclosed that Section 20 of the Constitution and Section 1, 22 to 25 of the Climate Change Act 2021, “provides for a basis of litigation against our government and against our corporate entities in the oil and gas, coal and automobile sectors, so we should be ready for litigation.
“We are not encouraging that but we are saying that they should go back and read their obligation under the Act so that they will advise themselves as to how best they can do their part in terms of climate action or reduce carbon emissions.”
On his party, the Director General of NESREA, Prof Aliyu Jauro, disclosed that the agency is working with other regulators to reduce carbon emissions in the country, adding that in some instances, companies have been sealed up until they comply with climate laws.
Prof Jauro further disclosed that the agency is also engaging with the judiciary to get their understanding and cooperation to get a speedy trial of offenders, thereby serving as a deterrent to others.
While observing that the workshop was timely as it would sensitize all relevant stakeholders on their respective responsibility when it comes to climate justice, he urged participants to come up with concrete solutions on how the country can achieve climate justice.
Ebelechukwu Enedah of PUNUKA Associates and Solicitors, who spoke on behalf of AGA-Africa, stated that the workshop was aimed at creating awareness about climate change issues and also creating synergy with the different organizations and agencies that are working in the area.
“We need to have a concerted effort in dealing with this issue”, she said, “we are to ensure the preservation of the climate and our environment, we have to ensure that justice is being done in that area.
She also emphasised the need for all to work responsibly towards ensuring a safe and clean environment for future generations which falls within their fundamental human rights.