Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has become the continent’s first BreatheLife country member.
Its air pollution efforts are centred around a National Action Plan to tackle short-lived climate pollutants — long-lived climate “forcers” that include black carbon, methane and ground-level ozone, which are harmful to people, ecosystems and agricultural productivity — that was approved mid-2019 by the country’s Federal Executive Council.
If its 22 key mitigation measures (see table) were to be fully implemented, Nigeria would see a whopping 83 per cent reduction in black carbon emissions and 61 per cent reduction in methane emissions, compared to a business-as-usual growth trajectory, by 2030.
This would also would reduce exposure to air pollution across Nigeria by 22 per cent in 2030 and save an estimated 7,000 people from premature death by diseases brought on by exposure to air pollution, while also cutting nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and carbon dioxide emissions.
Nigeria has a population of 190 million people, many of whom are exposed to levels of air pollution that exceed World Health Organisation guidelines, a situation that resulted in 290,000 premature deaths in 2016, including 98,000 child deaths from respiratory infections.
“Nigeria’s ambitious National Action Plan to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants can deliver real health benefits to Nigerians through improved air quality, while helping Nigeria meet its international climate change commitment,” Director of Public health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. U. M. Ene-Obong.
Nigeria’s Nationally-Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement includes elements that are closely linked to the mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants.
Developed as part of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s SNAP Initiative (Supporting National Action and Planning on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants), the plan encompasses measures across all sectors, with a special focus on cookstoves, agriculture, transport, brick kilns and the oil and gas industry.
Cookstoves are high on its list of priorities because most of Nigeria currently cooks with biomass fuels, burning both coal and firewood in traditional brick kilns, which produce smoke laden with black carbon and fine particles (PM2.5), with clear implications for exposure to household air pollution.
According to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the government has created an ongoing programme to replace traditional kilns with new clean-burning ones, while the country’s SNAP office (set up in close coordination with the Coalition) is campaigning to encourage the use of the new kilns and monitoring the success of the programme along the way.
The government’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development has also committed to promoting clean cookstoves and other supportive action, such as community mobilization.
“We commit to massive awareness creation among the rural populace, especially women, on air pollution, and to promote and strengthen the active participation of women in air pollution campaigns, especially women and girls with disabilities and their caregivers,” said the Honourable Minister for Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline K. Tallen, OFR, KSG.
It has also committed to advocacy aimed at traditional and religious leaders on taking air pollution action, and massive campaigns on tree planting.
As part of the Great Green Wall project, women in 11 Nigerian states severely affected by desertification were trained on to use alternative energy and to construct effective and efficient cooking stoves from local materials.
In the transport sector, Nigeria is focusing on using cleaner fuel with less sulfur as well as phasing out lead, which is still a problem in Nigeria, something discovered during the SNAP process.
Diesel with 50 parts per million sulfur content (equivalent to Euro IV standards) was introduced in 2019, while 150ppm petrol is due to be introduced in 2021; the plan is that all vehicles must meet Euro IV standards by 2030.
Other plans to reduce emissions from transport include renewal of the urban bus fleet in Lagos, the largest city in Sub-Saharan Africa, and to convert one quarter of all buses in Nigeria to compressed natural gas fuelled buses by 2030.
Nigeria’s efforts to bring down emissions from food and agriculture include increasing adoption of intermittent aeration of rice paddy fields and improving the manipulation of livestock manure, aimed at reducing methane emissions, and reducing open burning of crop residue. Targets include having this technique of rice growing adopted on half of all rice farming land and a 50 per cent reduction in crop residue burned in fields, by 2030.
Open burning and methane emissions are also the focus of Nigeria’s plans to cut emissions from waste management. Its overarching 2030 targets include the recovery of 50 per cent of methane produced in landfills, and a 50 per cent reduction in open burning of waste.
An example these efforts is underway at the Gosa Landfill near Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, where the Abuja Environment Protection Board has a plan to improve conditions for those working on the site. Part of this includes secondary sorting of waste into various waste components, which takes place at a mini “recycling plant” onsite, to reduce the amount of waste going to the dumpsite along with hazards and operational costs. The Board has also started a programme to encourage waste sorting at source, the “blue bin” programme.
Nigeria has joined forces with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to emphasize the importance of tackling emissions from its oil and gas industry, a major contributor to the country’s economy and government revenues. In particular, their aim is to ensure that the punitive measures for not complying with emissions regulations are sufficiently strong, and to bring this issue to the highest level of government.
Coordinating action across relevant sectors and branches of government
The National Action Plan was developed in Nigeria as a collaborative process involving all relevant ministries, departments and agencies.
“The engagement of stakeholders from across Government throughout the development of the plan was essential. The Action Plan targets multiple sectors and it is the sectoral ministries, departments and agencies that will be responsible for its implementation, and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning that are responsible for public finances,” said Asmau Jibril, from the Climate Change Department.
An SLCP coordination office was set up within the Renewable Energy Programme of the Federal Ministry of Environment to implement the national planning and institutional strengthening projects of the SNAP initiative, bringing together all relevant ministries, non-governmental organizations, community based organizations and development partners and spearheading efforts to raise awareness of SLCP issues in the different ministries to gain their support.
The SNAP initiative has also made the legislative arm of government an active participant in the action plan development process with the intention of giving its mitigation priorities and activities legal “teeth”: the legislative arm will be responsible for producing new laws and changing existing laws.
The executive arm is also involved, as it will be responsible for implementing the decisions and providing adequate funding to bring the plan to fruition; the SLCP office is in contact with Nigeria’s national planning commission to advocate that the national budget include funding provisions for the mitigation strategies.
The BreatheLife Network welcomes Nigeria as it embarks on its journey to meet its clean air targets.