Nigeria’s Climate Action Strategy: Net Zero as an Accelerator to Sustainable Economic Development – The Need to Adopt More Policies and Regulations


This study examined how policy and regulation will enable Nigeria’s journey to achieving sustainable economic development and its proposed 2060 net zero target. The study considered achieving net zero as the best way of achieving sustainable economic development in Nigeria. Therefore, this study centered on climate change-related policies and regulations. It seeks to examine the Nigerian and other countries’ approach to climate change. By the overview of the GDP in the fourth quarter 2022, it was found that more policies and regulations are needed for Nigeria to achieve sustainable economic development as well as net zero. Based on the findings, the study conclude that the policies and regulations of other countries identified in this study will enable Nigeria if adopted and implemented (together with its existing strategy) effectively to achieving its target. On the basis of this conclusion, the study recommends the adoption of the policies identified and severe punishments for deviance.

KEY WORDS: Policy, Regulation, Sustainable Economic Development, Net zero


About twenty-five thousand people from nearly 200 different countries attended the 26th annual edition of the Conference of parties (COP26) in Glasgow.  The gathering actually is for them to take action on climate crisis which has cause a lot of sleepless night and wasted many lives and properties globally. The impacts of climate change are even now evident in the world; from wildfires in Greece and Algeria, to flooding in London and Turkey, to drought in Australia and Northern Nigeria.[1]

In millions of years, our world has been warmer and colder than it is now. But today we are experiencing rapid warmer from human activities, primarily due to burning fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing greenhouse gas emissions from human activity act like a blanket wrapped around the earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.

In a 2018 report, thousands of scientists and government reviewers agreed that limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.50C would help us avoid the worst climate impacts and maintain a livable climate. Yet the current path of carbon dioxide emission could increase global temperature by as much as 4.40C by the end of the century.[2]

The situation is readily evident in Nigeria and it is worsened by poverty, poor leadership, corruption and weak regulations. Also, seasons are interfered with, major cities are being ravaged by floods, the air is increasingly becoming contaminated with black soot in the south part of the country; drought and scarcity of pastures in the northern part have led to forced migration contributing to the vicious cycle of the farmers herders conflict.[3]


Climate Change means a change of climate, which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity or natural climate variability that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time period.[4]

On the other hand, Sustainable Economic Development is a natural initiative built on local economies’ unique assets to address their individual challenges and provide quantifiable real-world benefits. It is a practical, implementable toolkit that tailors strategies to work for local people, businesses, and institutions.[5]

Empirical studies have also confirmed that climate change can have substantial impacts on the overall economy. The study described in details the impacts of climate change on various issues of national development such as low agricultural productivity, food insecurity, resource conflicts, unemployment, environmentally-induced migration, livelihood problems and health issues.

The study also noted that these impacts are as a result of devastating effects of flooding, drought, erosion, desertification, sea level rise, heat stress, pests and diseases, and erratic rainfall patterns, rising from climate change.[6] From the above, it is right to say that “sustainable economic development can be achieved in Nigeria through achieving net zero”

Effective climate action will necessarily require a combination of mitigation and adaptation policies. Mitigation policies focus on either controlling the emission of greenhouse gases or capturing and sequestering these emissions. Adaptation policies focus on taking steps to make social environmental systems more resilient to the effects of climate.[7] All of these can only be achieved through the instrumentality of law.[8]

Law sets standards for acceptable behavior in the society by creating regulations, policies and measures, and establishing agencies with responsibilities for implementation.[9]

Consequently, this essay seeks to examine how policy and regulation have been used and can be used to implement an effective framework that will enable “Nigeria’s journey to achieving sustainable economic development and its proposed 2060 net zero target” by identifying some good and ideal policies and regulations of other nations with a view of adopting them.


Since the submission of its first national report to the UNFCCC in 2003, Nigeria has made some progress on climate change governance. Nigeria has implemented certain policies such as Climate Change Response and Strategy (CCRS).

This policy is to ensure an effective national response to the multi-faceted impacts of climate change. Another one is the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change, which is geared towards reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience and adaptive capacity.[10]

In its previous national development plan (vision 2020), the government recognized climate change as threatening its economic prosperity and future development. Under its development plan (Vision 2020), the government has set targets to promote the production and use of renewable energy. These include wind, solar, hydro and biomass. The Ministry of the Environment has announced plans to increase the share of renewable energy to 20% by 2020.[11]

Sadly, report shows that Nigeria’s renewable energy capacity was 2,153 megawatts (MW) in 2020. The figure is a 0.02 percent increase from 2,152MW in 2019 placing the country at the tenth position in Africa. This figure represents a 16 percent meager of total energy sources in Nigeria as non-renewable energy capacity was 11,002MW, representing 84% energy capacity.[12]

However, climate change policy has a new dimension. Instead of percentage emissions reduction target, the framework is now concerned with net zero. In November 2021, at the United Nations Conference held in Glasgow, President Muhammed Buhari announced Nigeria’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2060.[13]

According to the committee on Energy Transition Plan, Nigeria requires 10 billion dollars annually to attain the country’s net zero target.[14] Some of the climate change policies drafted in Nigeria but not properly implemented include national policy on climate change, flare gas regulation and the menace of  gas flaring and the national forest policy (2006) and the menace of deforestation.[15]

In 2021, Nigeria enacted a law known as the “Climate Change Act 2021.”The law is the first stand-alone comprehensive climate change legislation in West Africa.[16] This Act provides a framework for achieving low greenhouse gas emission (GHG), inclusive green growth and sustainable economic development.[17]

Most of the initiatives envisioned in Nigeria’s new Climate Change Act build on prior climate change policies and in addition introduces some other measures toward enhancing the framework.  This Act applies to the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and to public and private entities within the territorial boundaries of Nigeria for the development and implementation of mechanisms geared towards fostering low carbon emission, environmentally sustainable and climate resilient society.[18]

Fundamentally, the Act introduces and establishes the National Council on Climate Change and saddles it with powers to make policies and decisions on all matters concerning climate change in Nigeria.[19]

Again, it empowers the council to make regulations [20] and determine penalty for an offence committed under the Act,[21] and also the court to make an order inter alia, to prevent, stop or discontinue the performance of any act that is harmful to the environment.[22] Lastly, the Act also provide climate change obligations of MDAs, public and private entities.[23]

Although, the Act is yet to enjoy judicial blessing, two cases are of relevance here. First, in Gbemre v. Shell[24], the Federal High Court of Nigeria ruled that oil companies must stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta due to the flaring’s impact on the communities’ collective survival and its contribution to adverse and potentially life-threatening environmental effects, including acid rain.

The court held that the practice of massive and unceasingly intense gas flaring in the community violates the citizens’ fundamental rights to life and human dignity guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter.

Furthermore, in Centre of Oil Pollution V. NNPC[25], the Supreme Court held that the outdated technical rules of locus standi should not be used to prevent an individual or group from bringing a matter of unlawful environmental conduct to the attention of the court. Every person including NGOs, who bona fide seek the due performance of statutory functions or enforcement of statutory public health and environment, should be regarded have standing to request adjudication on issues of public nuisance that are injurious to human lives, public health and environment .

From the above, the question that will come to our mind is whether or not, the innovations brought by the Climate Change Act 2021 in terms of policy and regulation suffice in “the Nigeria’s journey to achieving sustainable economic development and its proposed 2060 net zero target? The answer to the above question can be found on the 2022 Nigeria GDP.


According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the  Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.53% (year-on-year) in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2022, following a growth of 2.25% in the third quarter of 2022 and 3.98% in the fourth quarter of 2021. The performance of the GDP in the fourth quarter of 2022 was driven mainly by the services sector which recorded a growth of 5.69% and contributed 56.27% to the aggregate GDP.

Although the Agriculture sector grew by 2.05% in the reference period, its performance was significantly hampered by severe incidences of flood experienced across the country, accounting for lesser growth relative to the fourth quarter of 2021 which was 3.58%. Moreover, the industry sector was yet challenged recording -0.94% growth and contributing less to the aggregate GDP relative to the third quarter of 2022 and the fourth quarter of 2021.

Overall, the annual GDP growth rate in 2022 stood at 3.10%, from the 3.40% reported in 2021. Thus, the performance of agriculture and Industry reduced in 2022 relative to 2021, while the performance of the Services sector improved in 2022.

From the above, it can be seen that the social and environmental systems are more resilient to the effects of climate change (as the services sector recorded a growth of 5.69% and contributed 56.27% to the aggregate GDP)  than capturing and sequestering the emissions of greenhouse gases (as the Agriculture sector recording just 2.05% and the Industry sector recording -0.94%).

Nigerian economic development is still not sustained. More policies and regulations need to be adopted if Nigeria is to achieve sustainable economic development and net zero by 2060. Hence, identification of some good and ideal policies and regulations of other nations, enabling them to make a step further in achieving the aforesaid Nigerian targets is perfectly inelastic.


4.1   Philippines

The Philippines, a tropical island nation in the Pacific,[26] implemented a law called the” Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act, requiring each student from all educational levels to plant ten (10) trees before they graduate.

With over 12 million students graduating from elementary and nearly five million students graduating from high school and almost 500,000 graduating from college each year, this initiative, if properly implemented, will ensure that at least 175 million new trees would be planted each year. In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted under this initiative.[27]

4.2   Italy

The Italian Government has made the Climate Change Education compulsory in Italian Schools. This was announced by the Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti on 5th November, 2019.  According to Fioramonti, Italy is the first country to adopt a climate change curriculum in public schools. Different grades will take different approaches to the new curriculum.

Elementary-aged children will learn using what he called a “fairy-tale model” that connects the environment to stories from different cultures. By middle school, children will learn more technical information, and by high school, they will delve into the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.[28]

4.3 Costa Rica

Over a century ago, Costa Rica, decided to take advantage of its hydro potential generation, long before climate change was a critical element in decision making. Today, Costa Rica’s installed capacity for electricity generation in predominantly renewable, a product of 115 years of public investment and innovating policies to supply electricity to more than 98% of Costa Ricans. In the 1970s, the National Park Service was created, today; its protected areas cover 25% of the territory and serve as an international tourism attraction, one of today’s main income activities for the country.

Costa Rica selected from very early moments a path of sustainable development to provide wellness to its citizens of today and future. This path has taken the country in a continues innovation and experimentation, where science has helped adjust periodically the public policy and development strategies’ goals.[29]


Policy and regulation are the bests, if not only the tools to achieving “sustainable economic development as well as net zero in the world, including Nigeria. This is why Nigerian governments are expected to make the best possible use of the different available policies and regulations.

This is what make this research to study some of the good and ideal policies and regulations of other countries that will enable Nigeria if adopted and implemented (together with its existing strategy) effectively to achieving its target. Therefore, some recommendations are hereby given:

  • Nigeria should make it a law, each student from all educational levels to plant a certain number of trees before they graduate;
  • Nigeria should make climate change education compulsory to all educational levels in the country;
  • Nigeria should improve its energy efficiency by inter alia, promoting the use of renewable energy;
  • The penal consequences for the deviants of the Climate Change Act should be severe so as to deter others from becoming deviants too;
  • Introduce new climate change-related science and technology.


About the Author

Muhammad Ahmad Isa is recently a 300 level student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is an ardent researcher, legal writer, orator etc. His outstanding dedication and unwavering commitment have fetched him plethora of rewards as a law student. He can be contacted via:


[email protected]

[1] Agbeche Aaron, ‘Climate Change and Laws Guiding Corporate Social Responsibility in Nigeria: A New Direction for Global Recovery’ International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development, (2021) 6(1) 812-818 < > accessed 24 February 2023


[2] Melissa Denchak and Jeff Turentine, ‘What is Climate Change’? NRDC, (Espanol, 1 September 2021) < > accessed 2 March 2023

[3] (n1)

[4] Section 35 Climate Change Act, 2021

[5] ‘Sustainable Economic development’ Center for Neighborhood Technology. < > accessed 27 February 2023

[6] Jonathan E. Ogbuabor and Emmanuel I. Egwachukwu, ‘The Impact of Climate Change on the Nigerian Economy’ International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, (2017) 7(2) 217-223 < > accessed 25 February 2023

[7] (n1)

[8] Olenrewaju Fagbohun and Francisca E. Nlerum, ‘Implementing an Effective Regulatory Scheme for Climate Change in Nigeria: The Role of Law’ ELRI  < > accessed 28 February 2023

[9] Ibid

[10] Godstime Nwaeze ‘Nigeria’s Climate Action Strategy:How Policy And Regulation Will Eneble Nigeria’s Journey To Achieving Sustainable Economic Development And Its Proposed 2060 Net Zero Target’ SSRN (17 May 2023) < > accessed 10 October 2023

[11] Michal Nachmany and others, ‘Climate Change Legislation in Nigeria: The 2015 Global Climate Legislation Study’ London School of Economics (5 June 2015) < > accessed 1 March 2023

[12] Bunmi Aduloju, ‘report: Nigeria’s Renewable Energy Capacity Increased to 2,153 MW in 2020 – 10th in Africa’ The Cable (23 November 2021) <’s-renewable-energy-capacity-increased-to2153-mw-in-2020-10th-in-africa/amp&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwjE2YFBu8f9AhUZi-OHHa8tCFEQFnoECAwQAg&usg=AOvVaw3AORhCKvuVjgnZWVEqK9ZF > accessed 28 February 2023

[13] (n. 10)

[14] F. Balogun, How Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan Can Be Realistic – Experts, November 1, 2022. <> accessed March 7, 2023

[15] (n 1)

[16] Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan, ‘A Review of Nigeria’s 2021 Climate Change Act: Potential for Increased Climate Litigation’ IUCN (28 March 2022) < > accessed 1 March 2023

[17] Section 1 of the Climate Change Act, 2021

[18] Section 2 Ibid

[19] See section 3 Ibid

[20] Section 32 Ibid

[21] Section 34(1) Ibid

[22] Section 34(2) Ibid

[23] Sections 22,23 & 24 Ibid

[24] (2005) AHRLR 151 (NgHC 2005)

[25] [2019] 5 NWLR (pt 1666) 518

[26] Trevor Nace, ‘New Filipino Law Requires Every Student To Plant Ten Trees If They Want To Graduate’ Forbes (29 May 2019) < > accessed 6 March 2023

[27] Czarina Engracia, ‘House Green-Lights Bill Requiring All Graduating Students To Plant 10 Trees Each’ News and Documentation Section-Press and Public  Affairs Bureau (15 May 2019) < > accessed 6 March 2023

[28] Sophie Lewis, ‘Italy to Become First Country to Make Studying Climate Change Compulsory in Schools’ CBS News ( 6 November 2019) < > accessed 1 March 2023

[29] San Jose’, ‘Costa Rica’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’  Government of Costa Rica Ministry of Environment and Energy (10 September 2015) Sophie Lewis, ‘Italy to Become First Country to Make Studying Climate Change Compulsory in Schools’ CBS News ( 6 November 2019) < > accessed 28 February 2023

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