CLIMATE CHANGE: THE SUNNY SIDE OF CORRUPTION By Matthew Abah-Enyi

 

Antonio Guterres: The ninth and incumbent United Nations Secretary General

Antonio Guterres: The ninth and incumbent United Nations Secretary General

President Donald Trump of USA

President Donald Trump of USA

Next to the universal faith-based belief amongst most religious adherents that life on earth istransient and that what befalls man here-after is relatable to his here-and-now, the consensus on the threat Climate Change, a reaction to Global Warming, poses to the totality of living organism on the surface of earth, is the most congent.

A six hundred page report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency made public as far back as 1998 showed that Global Warming was real and that the phenomenon “would degrade the spectrum of natural ecosystem and affect when, where and how we farm, the availability of water to drink and to run our factories, how we live in the cities, the wetlands that spawn our fishes, the beaches we use for recreation and all levels of government and industries”.

 Even as human failings around negotiating tables at international conferences around the world on Climate Change continue to don the  toga of self-preserving diplomatic correctness, the average citizen of an African nation, hopelessly positioned to receive the full impacts of the impending doom, does not seem even remotely ready to wake up to the ugly reality that stares him in his unseeing eyes. In his abysmal  naivity and confusion, even amongst elit youths, he thinks the only morale obstacle that stands between him and improved living standard is the gigantic, well-sung but seemingly indefatigable monster of official corruption that prevails in his country’s government offices.

He does not know that the receding shores of Lake Chad, the multi-billion dollar worth of properties lost to coastal floods in Nigeria and other Island-nations in 2014 and the previous year’s late rains that led to yam seedlings roasting in their heaps were all indications of an emerging doomsday whose slow-motion or fast-tracked advancement have been the main agenda of a more sinister form of corruption-ridden negotiating tables across the world for the past twenty-four years-Climate Change, resulting from Global Warming.

Gen. Mohammadu Buhari: President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Gen. Mohammadu Buhari: President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

WHAT IS GLOBAL WARMING?

In order to allow for life to exist on the surface of planet Earth, there is need for a natural concentration of carbon dioxide and water vapor to combine and warm the surface of the earth. This natural combination is the reason various fractions of earth’s surface are covered with water, ice-mountains, forest lands, and  desertlands. Carbon dioxide and water-vapor combine to warm earth’s surface from 0 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. This balanced combination created what can be referred to as God’s gift to humanity, for the good of humanity. It is theoretically referred to as the Greenhouse Effect.

 As life continued to to evolve and various peoples across the world had to undertake historically shaped developmental initiatives towards their future well-being, the naturally conditioned greenhouse came under devastating upsets. Due to human quests for more comfortable lifestyles and his desire for enhanced life span, amongst others, a novel idea occurred to man. The novel idea is industrialization. The natural greenhouse effect came under devastating upsets from other forms of greenhouse gases mostly emitted from industries and other human activities.

While Europe and the Americas in the main, made forays into industrialization, subjecting other regions of the world such as Africa and the Asian continents to the ugly sides of colonialism and slave-trade, all aimed at securing cheap labor and raw materials for their industries and eventual industrial revolution, the natural greenhouse began to assume the semblance of an African keg of gun powder. Various forms of greenhouse gases emitted by the industries and industry-related activities gave rise to the presence of other earth warming trace gases, not to the surprise of scientists in view of their anticipation. Their contents, sources and characteristics were well-documented and scientifically well-defined.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: Egyptian president

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: Egyptian president

As humanity steps unto the threshold of the 21st century, the existential problem that poses the worst threat to organic life on earth is not the prospect of a third world war but the scientifically predictable consequences of Global Warming whose distinguishable details compel repetitive narration. Unfortunately, to be forewarned, which is the main purpose of this narrative, cannot amount to being fore-armed in view of the economic helplessness of those who need the warning most – Africa and Africans.  But the conversation might yet lead to a teeth-gritting decision amongst those who the bucks stop on their tables, to pull humanity back from the age of the precipice.

The Collective Atmosphere As Basis For Rights To Actions To Achieve Less Hazardous Lives On Earth’s Surface.

The onset of the industrial revolution marked the beginning of uncontrolled emission of additional greenhouse gases. Importantly, a number of trace gases known to be the sources of excessive heating up of the collective atmosphere are the issues.

  1. Carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide, mainly the product of burning fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, wood and natural gas is usually the consequence of human activities. It is reputed to be responsible for nearly half the temperature heightening emissions of the globe. It is also produced from deforestation as a result of decaying, burnt and cut wood. Available records indicate that by as far back as 1988, the quantum of carbon released as carbon-dioxide was in excess of 5.5 billion tons. Out of this quantum, only about 1.5 billion were said to have emanated from deforestation related emissions.
  2. Nitrous Oxide. This trace gas also known as laughing gas is produced by forest fires and coal burning. It also results from bacterial actions on chemical fertilizer. It is a natural product of soil microbes’ digestion. Its presence in the atmosphere is on record to have increased by 10 percent since 1880 and by 0.2-0.3 percent annually in recent years. It has the capacity to stay in the atmosphere for centuries and floating into the stratosphere where it contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer.
  3. Methane: It is the product of inefficiently burnt wood, when grasslands are burnt (as it is done during the hunting seasons in African countries), and when fossil fuels are obtained and moved from its extraction points to where they are needed. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency reports, methane contributes between 100 and 200 million tons per year to atmospheric global heating. However, one of its major sources which contributes about 650 million tons per year to its total contribution to atmospheric heating is a series of biological processes like rotting organic matter in peat-bogs, wetlands, rice paddles, landfills, ocean sediments and bacterial living in the entrails of farm animals and termites. Tests carried out on ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, according to a 1988 EPA report shows that methane concentration which remained intact and stable for 10,000 years at about 0.75 parts per million, had more than doubled since 1750. Methane growth rate in the atmosphere presently is above 1.5 percent per year.
  4. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): One of the most domestically generated trace gases that contribute to heat-trapping is the CFCs. It is used in air conditioning, refrigeration, as blowing agents in packing materials and plastic foams and as solvents for cleaning modern comfort enhancing electronic parts. While it is known to be a late arrival amongst the heat-trapping gasses, it has come to be a major contributor to the problem because it is more effective than carbon dioxide in trapping earth’s thermal radiation. Each CFC molecule is on record to have the power to destroy 10,000 molecules of ozone-the blanket that shields the earth from excessive heat. CFC concentration is now known to be growing by about 10-12 percent annually. These are the notorious elements of the colloquial keg of gun-powder that hovers over earth, waiing for the touch of a flame to go off on the globe.

The Kyoto Protocol And The Political Economy Of Global Warming

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international document on what can be summarized as humanity’s effort to save itself from its own wants. Having scientifically confirmed the unavoidability of the self-extinction fate that awaits life on the planet earth as the consequence of unmitigated global warming, negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol which committed industrialized nations to specific legally binding reduction in emissions of identified green-house gases were completed December 11, 1997. The Protocol which was binding on 35 industrialized nations (before the Paris Agreement on Climate Change) restricted individual countries to specified volumes of emission and reduction below the 1990 levels during a “commitment period” between 2008-2012. Due to the fact that it is scientifically possible for ‘sink’ to remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, it was possible for individual industrialized nations to determine the quantum of greenhouse gases they were bound to reduce during the commitment period, the financial implications it posed to their industries, and, unavoidably, their political implications.

Importantly note-worthy is the fact that the United States of America and China are known to be the two worst polluters of the collective atmosphere with greenhouse gases which constitute what can be referred to as the chemical weapon that hangs over the planet earth. The various rounds of negotiations prior to the completion talk of December11, 1997 were undertaken with the near-conventional leadership roles the United States has been known to usually assume at such international fora, especially in view of  its economic and political implications to the economy and politics of America and Americans.

President zuma of south Africa

President zuma of south Africa

All the way from 1992,  when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and  the UN Agenda 21 as well as the Kyoto Protocol were guardedly delivered because of the danger lives on the planet earth were known to have become exposed to from global warming; to the 2nd Earth Summit in South Africa in 2002 which many observers referred to as the Collision Summit of the “industrialized” and “non-industrialized” nations on account of the treacheries that marked the deliberations on one hand, and US’s unfatefull attitude towards the spirit and letters of those existential documents, on the other,  the fate of living orginism on  plannet earth were the main hub of the issues.

In the present global village, the socio-economic morality of one nation on issues surrounding Climate Change can no longer be viewed from the prism of that nation’s sovereign interests alone because of the inseparability of one country’s economic decisions on it from the quality of lives of peoples of other nations. .

What name befits the situation where a community of nation-states brainstorm for years, with loads of scientific facts and figures placed at their disposal, on how to collectively survive an existential threat to all forms of lives on earth originating from the lifestyles of members of the same community; and upon agreeing to an all-binding solution, one of the worst contributors to the problem stands up, puts his foot on the table, then walks away from the binding effects of the agreement, which it actually signed, 12th November, 1998, singularly because of the individual nation’s economic and political interests?

President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana

President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana

The ruefully light-hearted and brutally frank analyst would hold the view that since the issue is about Climate Change, with trapped heat from the sun being the major source of the threat, any major contributor to the problem who walks away from the agreement’s binding effect, there-by surreptitiously encouraging other cohorts to do so, while waving its strong fist in the faces of other less endowed nations should be seen and identified to be engaged in the practice of the Sunny Side of Corruption. Corruption, according to the latest content of Wikipedia is “the abuse of bestowed power or position to acquire a personal benefit”. At the governmental level, “corruption occurs where an office holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gains”. In its original meaning as credited to Aristotle, it means to be “utterly broken” of the human aspect of what one was supposed to be. Around the negotiating tables of the United Nations, nation states are expected to don the toga and attributes of the individual, if the union was ever meant to achieve any form of collective progress  America and other nations’ acquisition of the veto powers they wield at the United Nations gatherings are derivatives of their levels of national industrialization and other human development advancements that impact on the dreaded greenhouse gases emission. Consequently, at  UN conferences and convections, the veto power ought to be seen as a bestowed power which must be exercised with a high dose of circumspect. Where it is not, and other members of the commitee of nations that combine to make up the body cannot muster the wherewithal to enforce its usage with a human face because the abuser is too strong to handle, the scenario so created deserves no other descriptions than the term “corruption”. Indeed, the “Sunny Side of Corruption”.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe

Between the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, American big-footedness has been arrogantly overwhelming.

The free world thinks and has acted in consonance with this train of thought. At the second Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, where the then United States’ Secretary of State, Colin Powell was sent to justify America’s volt face from the biding effects of the Kyoto Protocol, delegates from non-governmental groups at the Summit showed their indignation by repeatedly interrupting him and chanting “shame on Bush” with many others holding banners reading, “betrayed by governments”, “Bush: People and planet, not big business”. Colin Powell, visibly shaken by the universal indignation, had to take the flaks with a deceptively calm, emotionless face. George Bush’s excuse for reneging on the Kyoto Protocol was that the Protocol’s unbinding effects on third world countries was unacceptable to America, a reason most observers viewed as faulty and un-defendable.  The politics of the decision did not and will never justify its international economic implications and the “corruptive” tendency that historical act brought to bear on the United Nation conference then, and ever since, can never be undone.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria

 Implications

In 1992, the entire world, having come to grips with the fatality potentials of the various types of green house gases, the stage was set for the historical  confrontation between countries of the Southern hemisphere peopled by the least industrialized countries of the world and those on the North, referred to as the industrialized world. Prior to the first Earth Summit, the economic implications of green house gases emission had remained in the realms of scientific crystal gazing. However, in the presence of scientific evidences stockpiled from years of research and other reports unloaded on the tables at the summit, it became evident to the discerning world that life was at risk on the face of the planet Earth arising from man’s activities on it. The United Nations Agenda 21 and UN Framework Convention On Climate Change, the first two UN-spear-headed major documents aimed at linking all forms of development activities to Environmental sustainability came into being. While the  Summit, with Agenda 21 and UNFCCC taken together represented a jarring reawakening for the discerning world on the issue of the inseparability of industrialization from the future of life on earth, it meant little to the masses of barely literate peoples of third world nations whose political leaders had a job of work to do, explaining the issues and duties Agenda 21 and UNFCCC represented.

The political and economic implications of green house gas emission has everything to do with life and death as well as their qualities and forms respectively. International attention drawn to the issues by the American U-turn from the binding effects of the Kyoto Protocol and the worldwide indignation the decision brought to bear on George Bush and his emissary at the 2nd Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 acted as eye opener for Africans and their political leaders. Even then, a high degree of ignorance still prevails amongst the people almost one and half decades after the momentous summit.

As stated earlier, President George Bush’s administration made the infamous voltface ostensibly because third world countries were initially spared from the binding effects of the Kyoto Protocol. China and America are on record to be the world’s first and second worst green house gas pollutants. African nations, put together  contribute less than what a single industrial estate in either of the two nations are on record to be pumping into the atmosphere. In fact dispassionate analysts who are familiar with the fact of America and China being the first two worst green house gas pollutants posit that the position president Bush’s administration took on the Kyoto Protocol amounted to a monumental display of insensitivity to the perils humanity faces from the wanton acts of a section of earth’s human population, thereby living up to ‘ Aristole’s definition of corruption: to be totally broken of human feelings.

President Edgar Lungu of Zambia

President Edgar Lungu of Zambia

In 2013, and periodically thereafter, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made public an index which showed that top US industries and power plants were among the world’s worst toxic pollutants. The index was a derivation of what EPA referred to as Risk Screening Environmental Indicator (RSEI). They critically examined the Chronic Human Health risk from industrial toxic releases. The data also drew its relevance from another EPA documentation known as the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) which was a compilation of releases of toxic chemicals by various facilities across America. The release also indicated the degrees of toxic contents and the population of people that stood the real risk of being afflicted with related ailments even amongst citizens of these worst polluter countries.

If the Sunny Side of Corruption practiced by the USA is defendable from the platform of National Economic Interests on the issue of green house gases emission, how does it justify the real threat to her own citizen’s health through the emission of Toxic Gases by industries whose interests are purely hinged on their bank balance sheets?

However, the real questions that beg for urgent answers amongst most African nations is how much have the industrialized countries corruptly contributed to the Climate Change-hastening green house gases emission, to the detriment of entire humanity? Following closely to that question is what are the real life-style issues in a poverty-famished environment as we have in Nigeria and other African countries which need urgent addressing? After those comes the ill-affordable issue of rights advocacy in the presence of prevailing evidences of the practice of the “Sunny Side of Corruption”entrenched by the few, to the detriment of life on the surface of the planet earth for all.

Publicly available figures obtained with the aid of the World Resources Institute’s Climate Data Explorer show that as at 2012, just ten out of the world’s total number of countries contributed up to 72% of total global green house gases emission through their lifestyle enhancement human activities. The ten countries in the order of the quantum of their emissions are China, USA, European Union 28, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Italy. African countries put together were responsible for less than 3% of global emission. This is the American alibi for shunning the Kyoto Protocol’s binding effects since 2005.

Ironically, the continent is populated by citizens whose living standards are far below the poverty level the United Nations indicates in its statuts documents no human being is expected to live by. This degrading living standard is perpetuated through two major means. The first and most fundamental is the historically irresable and irreversible colonial economy imposed on most of these third-world nations by their colonial masters, most of who belong to the group of ten worst emitters of green house gases. The second is of course the debilitating official corruption which pervades the public sectors of these nations whose stolen wealth are again traceable to dubious bank accounts rigorously protected in the worst-emitter nation’s bank vauls, out of which their industrial machineries are oiled and primed to increase green house gases emission. Meanwhile, for the purposes of a grand public image, hapless African citizens are endlessly ridiculed on how they had remained poor singulally due to the corrupt tendencies of their political leaders. This propagandist humiliation is, again, brutally achieved through the international information super highway, dominated by the “industrialized” nations.

The problem with environment related issues around African nations is that while the continent is the most vulnerable when the anticipated hightened effects of climate change hits earth, the whole issue sounds too vague and incomprehensible not only to the average citizen but also to the scanty, rich elites who possess the financial wherewithal to pay for the unavoidable costs of seeking for political leadership on the continent. Perhaps it is the awareness of this blinding level of ignorance amongst the generality of Africa’s vulnerable public that fires the impunity and insensitivity that give rise to the prevailing level of insensitivity amongst the industrialized nations. Official corruption amongst African leaders is admittedly high and quite detrimental to national economic development; but the totality of the cost of the ‘Sunny Side of Corruption practiced by the collection of the worst emitter nations is the more urgent problem if the objective is the preservation of enhanced living standardl on planet earth. Around the table of economic morality and corruption, America’s repudiation of the binding effects of the Kyoto Protocol should have generated wider condemnation than just the carrying of placards and incantations by protesters at the peripheries of international conference halls.  Had that happened, perhaps Donald Trump might have tarried awhile in returning America’s big foot unto the pages of the Paris Agreement.

In further domestication of the issue amongst African nations, on the average day in Nigeria for example, the most resilient investor deeps his hands into the cash imprest in his safe to dole out a sizable part of its content to pay for diesel gas which his manufacturing machines invariably need every day it operates at half of its installed capacity. In doing this, the quality of lives of his employees is compromised because the cash he doles out for diesel gas is part of an unearned profit for the month. Five out of every ten scenarios, staff strength and emoluments have to be reviewed downwards at the end of the month.

This is the telling effect of the political economy of third world countries’ energy needs as states and individuals battle with clean energy and related policies of national governments across the continent.

On the northern hemisphere, amongst the “industrialized” nations, the Nigerian investor’s counterpart concentrates on the needful improvement of his manufacturing techniques to keep his products in the lead, quality-wise, in the competitive global market where the quality of products from all corners of the globe determine first, its entry into the market and, more importantly, his turn over.  He is destined to be far ahead of his African counterpart because his country’s energy system which spews millions of tons of green house gases into the collective atmosphere spares him the quality-determinant cost of privately sourced energy to power his machines. How his country’s energy-policy planning and implementation agencies got it right even to the detriment of the collective environment and the advantage of his products remains the quality with which diplomatic round-tables on Climate Change are made of. He is on the heads you win and tails you win end of the train.

For Africa and Africans, the widely embraced, culturally induced but docility enhancing belief to the effect that “what one does not know does not kill him”  has come home to roost, with a high fatality-potential, on the issue of global warming. National governments on the continent do not have any alternatives to the teeth-gritting urgent need to educate their publics on what their duties are, in not just contributing their quotas towards emission reduction, but even more urgently to the sensitization of citizens to the injustices that have been perpetrated over time on the most vital issue of Climate Change. Anything different would amount to abbeting and colluding with the perpetrators of the state of injustice that continually pervades Climate Change conference halls. This blanket statement would seem insensitive if some fact based figures are not provided.

THE AMERICAN PENANCE ON THE  ALTER OF GREEN CLIMATE FUND AND THE SOCIAL COST OF CARBON (SC of CO2)

As the world metaphorically stood beside its self in sturning  constanation at the result of the US presidential  election of November 2016, outgoing  president Barrack Obama decided to perform an act of constriction on the alter of the Green Climate Fund. In one of his last actions in office, he sent $500 million, the second installment of a 3 billion dolar commitment to the Green Climate Fund earmarked to facilitate further progress on Climate Change activities which crystalized into the aclaimed  Paris Agreement. America’s outstanding balance of her commitment to the fund stands at $2 billion, a palty contribution to a $200 billion budget meant as seedling money for maintaining a handle around the neck of Climate Change as humanity tiptoes into the future with the dynamight. Obama’s action was viewed by hard-nosed critics as a defiant act of penance in view of victoriouse Donald Trump’s campaign team’s Climate Change denial and its inhirrent implications after his swearing-in. Those who viewed the remittance with suppressed disdain point at the shockingly revealing facts and figures as provided by the scientifically proven theory of the Social Cost of Carbon– (SC of CO2)

Barrack Obama: Immediate past president of USA

Barrack Obama: Immediate past president of USA

Efforts at arriving at a widely acceptable economic value of carbon dioxide emission resulted into the adaptation of the Social Cost of Carbon (SC-CO2) by agencies established to do this. With the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) playing leading roles in this engagement, the Social Cost of Carbon (SC-CO2) is generated for the sole purpose of making rules that would guide its emission and reduction after putting an economic value on a measurable quantum of emission. It is measured in metric tons and its monetary value  based on US dollar rate. All aspects of life which global warming impacts upon negatively are usually brought into focus in determining the Social Cost of Carbon. From health hazards, to economic loses suffered through flooding and agricultural mis-adventures, to cost of heating and air-conditioning where they become unavoidably necessary for human habitation are put on the table while determining the social cost of carbon.

Published documents on the Social Cost of carbon for the years spanning 2015 to 2050, calculated in 2014 US dollar-value at the unit cost of each metric ton showed a range of revealing figures. For the year 2015, the cost ranged from $12.00 to $120.00 at various discount rates. For the year 2035, it ranges between $20.00 to $190.00 while for the year 2050, it ranges between $29.00 to $240.00 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emission. The discount rates also range between 2.5% to 5% for various quantum of emission.

While dispassionate minded commentators are of the opinion that some aspects of human activities which should have been taken into consideration in the determination of Social Cost of Carbon have not been included because of imperfection in their measurement, the scientific community has relied on the published figures for various analysis. Based on this data, using the 2015 Social Cost of Carbon at the average discount rate of 3% at $40 per ton of emission, the United States of America, for example, which emission figure for the year 2013 stood at 6,673 million metric tons of carbon dioxide was responsible for the total emission whose  social cost of carbon dioxide stood at the dizzying  value of $266.92 trillion.  It is from this platform that Obama’s $500 million payment into the GCF is viewed by informed commentators as significantly inadequate and not in tandem with its emissions liabilities.

China is occupying number one position on the list of the ten worst emitter-nations. But analysts are soft minded towards her emission rate for the humane reason that in difference to that unenviable albatross, the republic had been quite remorsefully cooperative towards multinational approaches toward  collective actions aimed at emission reduction. It ratified the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol and submitted its relevant documents to the United Nations on May 29th 1998. In the thick of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change COP21, China was on record to have also indicated her willingness to begin a Kyoto Protocol compliant national emissions trading system in 2017 even as the world srood dumbfounded at Donald Trump’s repudiation of the Paris Agreement. The worst ten emitter nations bear a burden of responsibility to lead the wlorld out of the woods on this existential debacle.

Perhaps the vague awareness among Africans of the continent’s insignificant contribution to greenhouse gasses emission has been what informed the naïve attitude of African leaders who hitherto failed to prime their people’s general knowledge on international environmental socio-political issues and the injustice that has been foisted on the people by those who never fail to cease such knowledge gaps to service their nation’s socio-political interests as the US has done for all of fifteen years in the first instance, after they had been involved in all aspects of the negotiations that preceded Kyoto Protocol and even signed it. Now the Trump denial is an additional salt to the face of a festering wound.

Ms Monique Barbut: Executive Secretary UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

Ms Monique Barbut: Executive Secretary UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

On the heels of  COP21 in Paris in December 2015 and after, African countries have the urgent need to reposition themselves in several fronts to survive the observable treacheries that pervade the tables around which the future of life on the planet Earth are discussed. The all-important out-come of COP21, otherwise called the Paris Agreement mandated all participating nations to submit their Internally Determined National Contributions(IDNC) to their emmision reduction plans to the UN body in defined timeframe. This all-inclusive provision in the agreement is  an obvious unsung panderance to US insistence to rope in all developing nations into any all-binding emmision reduction plans as a condition for its participation. Even after all the panderings from the tables at COP21, president Donald Trump’s repudiation of American ratification of the Paris Agreement still came to be.   For Trump, several decades of lobbying by his political backers, many of whom are members of the tax-excempt charity organization known as the Cooler Heads Coalition which has spent billions of dollars sponsoring debates and other propaganda programs all aimed at rubbishing the science of Global Warming, could not be allowed to go to “waste” even if Africa got trapped into the binding effects of the Agreement.

The areas Africans need to pinch themselves awake in order to act quickly upon them are the national security-dependent areas of mitigation, adaptation and enlightenment as well as a continental clamor for fairness and justice at international negotiating tables on germane  Climate Change issues.

Capacity building, otherwise called adaptation comes first in view of the fact that the continent is positioned to receive the worst end of the end-result of an un-halted increase in global warming, on one hand. On the other hand is the fact that any expected international funding program for needy nations is not likely to happen as quickly and adequately as Africa needs, taking into consideration the spirit of the Paris Agreement. What years of colonialism and slave trade in Africa failed to impose on the continent due largely to their human resilience can overwhelm them through the foreseeable onslaughts of Climate Change. Africa should prepare for a war without human armies as adversaries. Desertification has already rendered the living standards of those who live with it into economic destitutes.  It is marching across Nigeria from the conquered areas of its Northern region towards the rest of the country at the dreaded speed of 0.6 square meters per annum while coastal floods that devastated the nation in 2014 left permanent economic set-backs across the land.

These Climate Change-induced economic dilemma have combined with other national economic problems to concern citizens of Africa’s largest economy and most populated black nation on earth to  pummeling poverty at a level  far below that prescribed by the United Nations in its status books as majority of its citizens live on far below one dollar a day. For reasons that are not entirely within the purview of most African nation’s economic planners, budgetary allocation to Environmental hazard mitigation and amelioration Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have remained at next to nothing. When the 2014 coastal floods hit Nigeria like a rampaging army from the bottom of hell, the nation was practically caught napping. Budgetary allocations to disaster management MDAs for that year that could not be fully cash-backed by government hovered at between 30 to 35% for provisions that had nothing in place for such disaster management. This was mainly due to non availability of adequate financial resources at the disposal of the federal government than a lack of knowledge of their possibilities. The humane hearted federal government rallied Corporate Conglomerates and rich citizens to rise up to the rescue. Their overwhelming positive responses are the reasons affected Nigerians have not become totally homeless.

 Years later, as African countries marched to Paris with their greenhouse gases reduction national action plans in their brief-cases even  as economies strayed deeper into the woods, they were done out of their survival instincts than a show of affordability.  For the continent, the years that will follow COP21 look more like the years of locusts for a number of reasons, the most important of which is the state of their economies.

Again, using Nigeria as an un-enviable model, African countries’ individual abilities to stand up to the impending calamities of Climate Change on the side of their citizens and as members of the United Nations especially on the issues of mitigation and amelioration unavoidably raise some very vital questions that beg for urgent answers.

President Mohammadu Buhari of Nigeria stands out as a model of hope for all the positive sides of democratic governance on a continent peopled by historical skeptics of the system. Rugged determination saw him through years of repeated contests for political leadership in his country. Then in April, 2015 when human parts harvesters were reported to have primed themselves to descend on Nigeria as it went burst from  an envisaged war that would result from the country’s presidential election, the nation admirably rose up like a colossus above the anticipated crisis. The nation’s first incumbent-to-opposition party transition took place. Prior to his swearing-in, the world’s bastion of presidential democracy, America, invited him to Washington.  Eye-popping hospitality was showered on the deserving team that accompanied the newly minted former general turned democrat. Heart-to-heart bilateral discussions took place between President Barrack Obama and his Nigerian counterpart after which encouraging promises were made to the Nigerian delegation. Significantly, Nigerians had voted for the reliable general who had promised them a change from everything that had kept citizens of an oil-rich nation in unacceptable poverty for years while a few stashed away unquantifiable billions of naira in foreign accounts.

The questions that beg for urgent answers amongst Nigerians and other Africans who have watched with keen interests is that almost six months into the administration of General Mohammadu Buhari, it had begun to emerge that all the talks at that strategic meeting were not as good-intentioned towards Buhari’s Nigerians as he and his compatriots were made to believe they were. Curiously, the nation’s main foreign exchange earner, its crude oil, in response to international “market forces”  had continued to plummet in price. Even more curious was the putrid smell in the air late 2015, in the form of informed deductions to the effect that indeed America was behind a conspiracy with her economic allies to boycott the purchase of Nigeria’s crude oil. The Nigerian president was said to have begun to search deeper into the inner recesses of international diplomatic strategies in efforts to put a handle on the mesmerizing crystal ball.

Nimble-minded Nigerian technocrats, challenged by the dilemma of the President and nation, were believed to have beamed their search-lights in the direction of Briton Woods, oftentimes referred to, amongst themselves, as a platoon of economic war-force in the control of Western Economies. They deducted that it had quietly joined the fray on the side of Western economies in view of its preference fot an official devaluation of the nation’s national currency, under an import-dependent economy.

In the middle of a record international oil-price down-turn with resounding effects on the citizens’ quality of lives, the International Monetary Fund, traditional hood for the Briton Woods was said to be mounting pressures on Nigeria’s Central Bank to force a devaluation of the natiinal currency. The bank and the reluctant president later caved in to obvous diplomatic arm-twisting. At the end of 2015, Nigerians, in their majority, wallowed in telling poverty, run-away inflation, dangerously high unemployment rate, a full-time warfare to starve off insurgents at its North-Eastern region, and an overwhelming rate of kidnapping in other parts of the country. All eyes were therefore on the newly inaugurated federal cabinet led by Mohammadu Buhari to first navigate their lives out of these national problems before turning his attention to the burning issue of Climate Change, and how to position the country to receive the impacts of its already manifesting catastrophes.He was “programmed” to fail, as no magic fomular exists for the successful management of an economy on whose neck is hung these albatrosses.. The nation’s economy slipped into recession. Dispassionate watchers of Washington’s demonstrable and deductable attitudes towards President Buhari’s corruption-tackling government had gone to bed with the eerie conclusion that President Obama had indeed,  not lived up to his implied support for Nigeria and the administration he was accused amongst elitist Nigerians of preferential treatment during the election that brought it into power.  It would seem not to be in America’s long-term interest to live up to all the promises Obama made to the Nigerian team.

Next to capacity building on the agenda list of African leaders in these times of existential dangers from Climate Change-induced economic catastrophes is the issue of  policy formulation, implementation and monitoring, usually the enabling ground for collective activism. The average undergraduate in a Nigerian, Senegalese or South African university campus does not know much about carbon pricing and how it can be used to specifically put a finger on how much his country’s industries contribute to the hastening of global greenhouse gas emission. If he knew, he would probably have had a different worldview on some issues that are germane to human development. Informed thinking among young Africans would make them take a long look at the facts of the continent’s miserly contribution to global greenhouse gases emission and juxtapose it with the irrefutable fact that the continent stands to lose the worst to the approaching adooms of Climate Change. Perhaps that juxtaposition would remove the scales from their eyeballs and enable them to properly articulate the characteristics of the type of corruption that prevail at the levels of their nation’s economic lives, which are often deservedly well-sung at both the local and international levels on one hand; and the ones that prevail at the tables around which the future of lives on earth in the face of Climate Change imminence are discussed, about which almost everyone has remained silent, on the other hand. This fact-based look at the virulent issue of corruption would afford the examiner the opportunity to dispassionately analyze which of the two is more inimical to lives on the planet earth even in the face of the fact that national official corruption is draconic to economic development.

At the various Conferences Of the Parties (COPs) to the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change, the most contentious issue on the table has always turned out to be the inevitability of what greenhouse gases emission can do or is already doing to global climate. For good reasons, the issue that has continued to generate the most overwhelming rhetoric at all the COPs, climaxing at COP21 in Paris is the one that should directly address the problem headlong. It is the one that concerns the urgent topic of adequate funding of adaptation programmes–the one that has everything to do with Africa’s survival in the face of the catastrophes that have already begun to beguile the continent. It is on this issue that close watchers of events at Climate Change conferences, especially those of African and Island Nations descents have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the 2005 American Volt-face from the binding effects of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change would always return home to roost on the sensibilities of other industrialized nations. Donald Trump’s June 1st  repudiation of the Paris Agreement is the heighth of impunity that calls for collective rejection.. As the entire world stands still in agony and consternation, for Africans and citizens of all vulnerable narions, the deed cannot be viewed in any other light than a call to arms. Not in conventional warfare, but on the realms of diplomatic militancy in the hues of an existential revolution.

THE SECOND STANZA OF A LULLABY

A close scrutiny of the 2015 Paris Agreement by an African analyst with a good grasp on the fundamental issues that have always proved knotty to address at various Climate Change  conferences would unearth the fact that the Agreement was traditiinally equivocal on those issues. Industrialized nation’s reluctance at committing tangible resources to the  adaptation needs of vulnerable nations make Climate Change conferences assume the semblance of an ill-affordable jamboree. At the Paris Conference, despite the volumes of fact-based statistics on permanent and measurable losses suffered by sub-Saharan African and Island nations to long-prevailing Climate Change induced catastrophes unloaded on the conference tables, all that vulnerable nations came away with on the hallowed pages of the Paris Agreement were similar to a second stanza of a lullaby scripted to rock them to a long dream-filled risk-haunted sleep. In Paris, leaders from vulnerable nations, especially  Africa were unequivocal in their presentations on what the negative effects of Climate Change had already done to the landscapes and economies of their nations. Mohammadu Buhari of Nigeria told the conference that desertification-ravaged countries around the fast-receding shores of Lake Chad were losing billions of dollars worth of cattle and other agricultural investments every year and would soon become economic destitutes on their own lands. Other African leaders spoke in the same vein with the high hopes of returning home with short-time framed commitments to adaptation and mitigation funding progammes from the conference. But when the chips came down, and the bucks of decision making became untraceable in the myriad of tables that constituted the Agreement Drafting Committee of the conference, African nation’s leaders and their Climate Change vanquished citizens waited with bated breath.

When the Agreement eventually made its triumphant outing, strong-voiced leaders from industrialized nations stood up to applaud it; while the virtually voiceless African nations echoed their own whimpers. The eggheads that were tasked with the cripting of the Paris Agreement’s spirit and letters achieved captivating feats in words-smithing but were not so gallant in the spiritual aspiration part of the global document. They did not deem it fit to mention Agriculture in the revered pages of the Agreement. What provides about one third of the Gross Domestic Product and 65% employment the whole of African continent was not deemed fit for the value of a word’s  worth of ink by the Drafting Committee. For want of a carrot to pacify African nations on their well-articulated expectations in the areas of urgently needed adaptation and mitigation funding in the present or nearest future, the Drafting Committee went linguistically creative. Out of the controversial issue of “adaptation”, that could make or mar the sensibilities of vulnerable nations, they pulled out two new words-“Loss” and “Damages” and stringed them together. Then they significantly and “heroically” granted the two words a new status-“stand-alone”!! As it were, the most soothing “achievement’  of the Paris Climate Change Agreement for Africa and threatened Island nations was the creation of an independent issue of “Loss and Damages” out of the old and vexatious one of adaptation. While the African Development Bank is of the informed opinion that the continent’s Climate Change adaptation needs range between $20-30billion per annium between now and the next 20 years, the Paris Agreement’s tall global adaptation ambiItions presently leaves them actually “standing alone”! Their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) documents will likely determine their qaulifacations for for any inclusive global adaptation funding programme in the future.

Presently, for African leaders, the Paris Agreement is not unlike  an articulate attempt at rocking a weeping child to a sleep with the second stanza of a lullaby whose first stanza had become vexatious to the hearing of the child with the famished stomach.

How African leaders are going to put the Agreement’s “achievement” before their extinction-threatened peoples, coastal countries and cities’ residents as well as desertification-ravaged land owners will be the materials with which stories of failed economies, fragile political stability, national security challenges and economic problems-induced insurgencies are made of.

                   Referencies

(1) The Greenhouse Trap, (Guide to the Environment) By World Resources Institute.  1990

(2) User’s Manual for Risk Screening Environmental Indicators, 1996-2012.

                         2013

(3) Toxic Release Inventory, By US Environmental Protection Agency  2013

(4) Climate Data Explorer, By World Resources Institute.

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