The Global Search for Education: Climate Activist Sam Okorie Explores Nigeria’s Progress on the Road to Net Zero
This month audiences can screen Net Zero Speaks to Rep Sam Onuigbo on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated for the Planet Classroom Network by Protect our Planet and Planet Classroom
In Nigeria today, oil and gas generate over 50% of the country’s primary energy mix, while coal contributes over 30% of the power supply for industry. Rep. Sam Onuigbo is the former Chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Climate Change, President of GLOBE (Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment), and the thought leader who sponsored Nigeria’s Climate Change Act.
Net Zero’s climate activist Sam Okorie sat down with Rep Sam Onuigbo to explore Nigeria’s progress since COP26. How far have they come? What needs to be done to achieve the commitments made? Okorie asked the important questions and got the answers.
Sam, why did you select Rep Sam Onuigbo for your Net Zero interview? What inspired you about him?
I chose Rep Sam Onuigbo because I have seen his work over the years on climate change mitigation, and his engagement with the important stakeholders across the globe. In particular, I have followed his relentless advocacy for the climate change bill to be signed into an act in 2021.
I have interviewed him on several occasions about the impact of climate change and what Nigeria is doing to tackle these issues. He has been an inspiration not just to me, but to other young people around the world by encouraging all of us to take bold steps to solve climate change issues. One important thing I have heard him say often is the need for youth to take action without waiting until they are given a particular portfolio. For him, we don’t need to be in a particular position or hold any particular appointment before we can start taking action for our planet; wherever we are, we should try to take sustainable action to protect our planet to tackle the impact of climate change. He has also shared his story about how he started as a young person in his community without any portfolio or political appointment and how he became a member of Parliament and Chairman of the Nigerian climate change committee of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari (President of Federal Republic of Nigeria.) All this inspired me to invite him to Net Zero.
What surprised you most about your Net Zero interview?
What surprised me most was Nigeria’s plan for the green economy transition that had already been set in place. This includes things that have been at the peripheral level in terms of discussions and engagement with the necessary stakeholders to move the plan into action. It includes the plan for Nigeria to restore most of her degraded lands that have faced many severe threats as a result of deforestation, mining, and illegal oil bunkering.
Another thing that was new to me was what he relayed about some sections of the Climate Change Act 2021 (CCA2021). This was not just new to me, but I believe to most people in Nigeria, because the climate change bill was only signed into law in October 2021 by the President of Nigeria after approval from the Senate, before COP26. Hence, not everybody has actually gone through the CCA2021 or has access to the original copy. So hearing him speak about the Climate Change Act and the establishment of the National Council on Climate Change as contained in the Act was really essential. An integral part of the Act is to include CSOs, Youth groups, indigenous groups, NGOs and underrepresented groups so as to promote inclusion, and this is really awesome.
What were your main takeaways from your Net Zero interview?
Nigeria is at the forefront of mitigating the impacts of climate change. Nigeria is ready for the green economy transition and is tracking the net zero commitment made by Mr. President, HE Muhammad Buhari during the COP26 held in Glasgow. Nigeria has a climate change policy that regulates people’s actions and encourages people to take action. This policy is a major step for Nigeria in taking the lead for climate change mitigation in Africa at large because the CCA2021 has set the example for other countries to establish a climate change act that ushers in a green economy transition, and welcomes the ideas of CSOs NGOs, MDAs, and other groups. It also builds collaboration with these organizations to tackle the impacts of climate change, promote climate change solutions, and strengthen the adaptation approach for climate change mitigation.
Thank you Sam!
C. M. Rubin and Sam Okorie
Don’t Miss Net Zero Speaks to Rep Sam Onuigbo, now screening on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated for the Planet Classroom Network by Protect our Planet and Planet Classroom