As the world continues to experience the impacts of climate change phenomenon, participants at a climate change forum organized in Port Harcourt have advocated for litigation as a veritable tool to fight the causes of climate change. The participants, comprising environmentalists, academics, community stakeholders, among others, submitted that the government of Nigeria should be dragged to courts for failure to take steps to protect the environment.
The forum, which was organized by Women Rights and Empowerment Initiative, Wori, in conjunction with European Union Agents for Citizen-Driven Transformation (EU-ACT) program, further charged communities, groups and individuals to begin to sue oil companies on climate change issues, stating that the activities of oil extracting companies have become the major contributor to the depletion of the ozone layer which leads to the climate change problem..
In his presentation at the forum, former president of MOSOP, Legborsi Piagbara, said climate change litigation is gaining grounds across the world although no case related to climate change issues has been recorded in Nigeria.
“It has proved to be result-oriented where it has been applied,” he added.
The Ogoni activist noted that the climate change phenomenon is a big and serious issue and that serious and concerted efforts and strategies should be deployed towards combating it to save the mother earth.
The impacts of climate change, which is caused by continuous depletion of the ozone layers, are very devastating. It manifests in form of excessive flooding, ocean surge, excessive heat and desert encroachment among others, he noted.
In her presentation, Cynthia Onwuka, executive director of Women Rights and Empowerment Initiative, WORI, disclosed that in response to climate change challenges, Nigeria rectified the Paris Agreement in March 2017, which provided a major role in promoting a transition to a low carbon economy by the national government. This was followed by the enactment of the Climate Change Act aimed at regulating carbon emission in the environment, among others.
She stated that the Climate Change Act applies to both public and private entities in the country and directs both to implement mechanisms geared towards fostering a low-carbon emission, environmentally sustainable, and climate resilient society.
According to Dr Onwuka, the training was aimed at creating awareness on the linkage between climate change and human rights issues as well as the legal options in exploiting domestic and international instruments on climate litigation in Nigeria.
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