Nowadays, it is very common to hear the use of the terms “climate change” and “climate action”. Although both phrases are related, they are different sides of the same phenomenon, and we shall be exploring how so.
What is climate change?
According to the United Nations (UN), climate change is the long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. And although climate change may occur naturally, since the 1800s, human activities have contributed greatly to the phenomenon. These activities include deforestation and any actions that require the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
How does fossil fuels and cutting trees lead to climate change?
When fossil fuels are burned, a bunch of gases known as greenhouse gases (GHG) are released into the atmosphere. When emitted, greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, trap heat, leading to global warming and climate change. Being that plants naturally use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, cutting trees down also contributes to increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Over the years, the increased rate of climate change has led to devastating consequences for populations around the world. Some of the effects of climate change include floodings, droughts, food insecurity, increased health risks, displacements, and even death.
For this reason, it has become very important to curb human activities that contribute to climate change, and this brings us to climate action.
What is climate action?
Climate action refers to any strategy, initiative or project executed by an individual or group, to reduce the causes of climate change and adapt to the effects. So, since burning fossil fuels has been identified to release greenhouse gases leading to climate change, commensurate climate action would be developing and adopting cleaner energy sources. Likewise, while deforestation is also a contributor to climate change, commensurate climate action would be planting more trees.
Nowadays, climate action commitments and goals are tailored to individual countries, which means a country can make its climate action plans leveraging on the resources (often natural) within its borders. However, the implementation of climate action plans can be quite expensive, especially for developing countries. In these cases, most developing countries may seek aid in form of climate finance from their developed counterparts.
What are Nigeria’s climate action targets?
At the 26th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow in 2021, former President Muhammadu Buhari announced that Nigeria would commit to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. In the same year, the country’s revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to climate action stated that with international support, it would reduce emissions by 47 percent below Business-as-Usual (BAU) by 2030. To support these commitments, the federal government took a pioneering step by launching the country’s Energy Transition Plan (ETP) in August 2022, the first of its kind in Africa and marking a significant stride in Africa's climate action efforts.
Although climate change and climate action sound similar and may be confused, they mean different things. While climate change is the challenge that requires urgent attention, climate action is the proactive or reactive measures/solution taken to mitigate the challenges.
As an individual or group, what climate action strategies do you practice?
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