Chioma Obiadi: US planned pull-out of Paris Agreement and future of Niger-Delta region
It saddened my heart when I listened to the news few days ago to hear that the United States (US) will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Although, we all know that China has recently surpassed the United States in annual greenhouse gas emissions, the US on its own has produced 27 per cent of the total carbon dioxide emissions of the world as at 2011. The worry thing about carbon dioxide is that it stays up in the atmosphere for a very long time. Enough time to cause the damage we all try to avoid for ourselves, our families and our countries.
Hence, the US is a very important country when it comes to reducing CO2 emission, protecting the environment and as a hegemony, take the lead in the movement of saving the world from itself in this discourse.
Indeed, for many years, the US has continually reaffirmed its leadership in promoting peace in the world and specifically promoting the need to safeguard our environment against global warming.
So, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is a mistake and I pray Donald Trump recants his earlier your statement on the issue, because of its likely consequences on oil-producing communities and regions, where American oil firms already have investments like the Niger-Delta.
Apart from the Kyoto Protocol, a pivotal moment was reached in Paris in 2015 when 196 member states reached a consensus to adopt the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement is an agreement with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) aimed at getting countries of the world to work together to mitigate global warming. Particularly, focused on enhancing implementation, Article 2 of the UNFCCC aims to:
(a) Hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
(c) To Make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
Former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, once said: “For the first time, every country in the world pledged to curb their emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause for the common good,”
Nigeria, through President Muhammadu Buhari and the former Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, signed the Paris Agreement in 2016.
Whilst climate change is still far from the consciousness of the typical Nigerian, it is a step in the right direction which social actors like me keep support and promote. It is my dream that Nigeria becomes “greener conscious” and that citizens work hard to preserve our beautiful country.
The social movement in the US has been a shining example and I really call on the government of Donald Trump to uphold the positive identity of the US as the world sees it – a super power and a role model.
Through the Green-Girl Project, I have tried and still try to bring the issues of the environment to the consciousness of the Nigerian People especially seeing the degradation we experience.
The Niger Delta – a crucial area in Nigeria that requires significant attention – is one of my main focuses. I am indeed happy about projects like the Ogoni Clean-up and related restoration projects.
However, I fear that President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement as already signed by 196 countries will affect the involvement of American companies like Exxon Mobil who should be crucial to promoting the clean-up and other climate change issues in Nigeria.
Exxon-Mobil is at the heart of Nigeria’s economy as a major manufacturer and marketer of commodity and specialty petro-chemicals in Nigeria. I want to see Exxon-Mobil increase its commitment to safeguarding the environment in Nigeria through its social investment projects and funding.
According to NASA, earth’s temperatures in 2015 were the hottest ever recorded. Rising temperatures and changing patterns of rain and sunshine are changing where plants grow, and in the case of our oceans, encouraging the proliferation of species that impact native ocean habitat.
As ocean waters along the Niger-Delta region where several American Oil firms have on-going operations warm, they expand; causing sea-levels to rise. Those living in the Niger-Delta coast are at an increased risk of storms and floods as well as the risk of losing their communities, life and livelihood. Climate change is all over the news every day and it is by no chance “fake news”.
For that reason, I urge US to take a bolder step towards showing its commitment to protecting the environment in the US and the world. I look forward to better action from Trump’s government, moving forward.
At the same time, I continue to urge people especially in Nigeria to do their own bits to promote and safeguard the environment through little actions they can practice in their living space.
Climate change is already beginning to transform life on earth. We cannot change global warming in terms of where it is today but we can stop from getting worse, because of the importance of its likely consequence on our existence.
I agree with Former President Barack Obama when he said, “This is national security issue, it is not just an the US commitment to the Paris Agreement and other related commitment is not just about the environment, it is about ‘putting American first’ and it is about saving the world… especially poor communities like the Niger-Delta where gas flaring and other environmental degradations are a common sight..
The US should be the super power and ‘Big Brother’ it claims to be and walk its talk.
Chioma Obiadi is the 40th Miss Nigeria and the Coordinator of the Green-Girl Project