Susty Person of The Month

Dr Peter Tarfa is September’s Susty Person of The Month

Our popular Susty Person of the Week column has been upgraded to Susty Person of the Month to enable us meet up with our target of getting the right caliber of persons featured. This month, we have Dr Peter Tarfa!

Dr. Yerima Peter Tarfa is the Designated National Authority (DNA) for Climate Change in Nigeria. He is a foundation staff of the Department of Climate Change with over two decades as an experienced professional in climate change and sustainable development field with a focus on climate change adaptation, climate finance, and negotiation. His expertise spans across policy development, project operations, bilateral and multilateral cooperation, capacity building and advocacy. Dr  Tarfa chaired the Committee responsible for the development of “National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change in Nigeria (NASPA-CCN)” and also represented the Federal Ministry of Environment on the CIDA supported project “Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change (BNRCC) implemented by Nigeria Environmental Study Action Team (NEST). Dr. Tarfa is a widely traveled person representing Nigeria, since 1995 in local, regional and international climate change meetings, workshops and negotiations. He represented Africa (2012 to 2016) on the Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund Board. Dr. Peter Tarfa holds a Bachelors degree, Masters Degree and has a Ph.D. in Environmental Resources Management.

Read full interview below or just listen to it here .. 🙂

You have over two decades experience as a climate change professional, which means the subject of climate change, has been with us for a long time; why is it that we are just taking the debate seriously now?

Global warming has generated concerns since the 19th century on the need to call the attention of world leaders to address the issue of Climate change. However, Climate change is dynamic and its impacts are been felt aggressively over time due to higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere caused by human activities. Extreme weather events like hurricanes, flood, drought, excessive heat, wild fires, crop failure, food and social insecurity are some of the impacts of Climate Change which we are already facing.

Climate Change debate has been on the course since the first Conference in 1992 on Environment (the Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nigeria has been actively involved in pushing forwards the negotiations on Climate change on since ratification of the UNFCCC in 1992. What is different now is that with the emergence of the new universally accepted Climate Change Agreement “The Paris Agreement” which Mr. President signed in New York in September 2016 and ratified in May 2017, it is “Business Unusual”.

The Paris Agreement is a binding treaty that commits all Countries to take domestic actions to cut down emissions of GHGs across sectors of the economy to ensure limiting global average temperature to well below 2oC commits the Country to reduce GHG emission by 25% from business as usual by the year 2030.

Nigeria submitted an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC, which commits the country to reduce Greenhouse Gases economy wide by 20% unconditionally from business as usual by the year 2030, which will be scaled up to 45% with international partnership and support.

How would you rate Nigeria in our fight against climate change?

Nigeria has taken tremendous steps in the fight against Climate Change and has gotten the Political will and commitment to implement proposed national projects/ programmes. We currently have;-

  • Presidential accent on Paris Agreement and ambitious NDC (25% & 40%)
  • Robust MDAs Partnership in developing NDC implementation strategy
  • Registered a number CDM project activities
  • Undertaken adaptation activities in various communities
  • Creation of Climate Change Desk Offices in the 36 States of the Federation
  • Collaboration with National Experts on climate change, Research centres, International organizations, Private sectors, NGOs, etc

Will the country’s “All Options” plan which implies the inclusion of energy sources such as coal, and oil and gas not pose a threat to our climate change mitigation efforts?

Nigeria’s economy is primarily dependent on fossil fuel, which is a carbon intensive.  However, there is a plan to explore viable options such as utilization of coal to generate energy but in a cleaner way in the mean time while we work on phasing out fossil fuel utilization.

What roles can technology play in curbing climate change?

Technology plays vital roles in Climate change Adaptation and mitigation, especially in the area of Renewable energy and Energy efficiency. The challenge is that immediate deployment of these technologies from the advanced countries is not simple but it is viable. Viable options which Nigeria have commenced includes utilization of: –

  • Solar PV
  • Biogas
  • Energy efficient appliances
  • Combined Cycle Gas Turbines
  • Wind mills, etc

Do you think the imposition of carbon tax on industries an effective way of
combating climate change?

The issue of Climate Change is dynamic and Nigeria takes the issue very seriously. Applying Carbon tax to industries would be a good choice for Nigeria to discourage utilization of carbon intensive facilities while mitigating the adverse effect of Climate change. This will encourage companies to foster Low Carbon development strategies in the long run.

Now that the 2017 budget has been passed, how soon will the disbursement of the green bonds commence?

The Nigeria’s Green Bonds is prepared in line with the ERGP Priorities and NDC Goals. The ministry with the support of Team of experts is in the process of consultation to firm-up engagement with the SEC, PENCOM and the Debt Management Office.

Awareness about climate change is still not widespread in the country; will itsintegration into regional, state and local government development plans foster

The Ministry of Environment is seriously advocating for the issues of Climate Change at all levels. Currently, all the 36 states of the federation were urged to establish Climate Change Desk offices in their state Ministry of Environment. The essence of this is to assist the states to integrate issues of Climate Change into their various states planning processes. We have currently developed comprehensive guidance note and distributed copies to all the Climate Change desk offices in the state to guide their operational activities.

What’s your favorite SDG?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or rather the Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a set of 17 “Global Goals” having 169 targets set with a view to transforming our world. However, Goal 13 on “Climate Action “ is my favourite SDG since it seek to stabilize rising carbon dioxide concentration and ensure environmental harmony. However, the 17 goals were justified because the agenda they address is all encompassing.

Obviously, you run a very busy schedule, how do you unwind?
Well, there is certainly something wonderful about having time to unwind. Scheduling free time during your day doesn’t always work out for me—I find it too easy to see that time as flexible and end up encroaching on it with things that feel more important. I believe in having time to unwind because it can help instill balance in your life and even improve your performance in the other areas you’re working on.

On a final note, why should young people in Nigeria get on climate action?

It is always good when you borrow something from someone to hand it back in good condition. It is today’s young generations who will pay the price if we neglect our duty to minimize the effects of climate change – and we will not go far in fulfilling that responsibility unless we engage young people in a meaningful way. That is the intergenerational equity which is central in the Paris Agreement it self.


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