Giving the Paris Agreement Legal Force at the Country Level: New Climate Legislation in Uganda and Nigeria
After years of negotiations, multiple drafts, and extensive consultations, NDC Partnership member countries Nigeria and Uganda both passed critical legislation in 2021 to promote enhanced climate action and increased ambition.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni assented to the National Climate Change Bill on 14 August 2021, formalizing the legal regime for Uganda to act on climate change. This landmark Act is the result of the substantial efforts of the government of Uganda and its many development partners working together to put up Uganda’s first-ever legal framework for climate action. “The Uganda Climate Change Act came into force on 3 January 2022,” says Margaret Athieno Mwebesa, Uganda’s commissioner of the climate change department in the ministry of water and environment. “This is a big milestone since it provides the required enabling environment for enhancing the country’s mitigation and adaptation ambitions in response to our commitments to the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement.”
Among the provisions of the Act, the National Climate Change Act provides the force of law in Uganda to the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement along with a regulatory framework for monitoring, reporting, and verifying the implementation of programs on climate change. In addition, it provides climate- change financing and an institutional framework to coordinate, supervise, regulate, and manage all activities related to climate change. The Act further enhances Uganda’s climate change mitigation strategies by building the country’s resilience and providing a mechanism for advancing reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Since 2018, members of the Partnership have supported the Ugandan government in efforts to develop and pass the Climate Change Act through extensive stakeholder engagement and consultations, as well as public awareness and advocacy campaigns. The NDC Partnership members that offered support to the government of Uganda in several drafts and revisions of this law include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the government of the Netherlands, the government of Denmark, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Climate Action Network’s Uganda Chapter. In addition, the government of Uganda also received support from ActionAid, Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, EMLI Bwaise Facility, ENR CSO Network, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance Uganda, Youth Go Green, and the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change.
With the National Climate Change Act now in place, Uganda has already completed a key objective in its 2018 Partnership Plan, regarding the “legal framework enacted for climate change management.” Now, the ministry of water and environment’s climate change department will take the next steps to operationalize the Act, including developing a Framework Strategy for Climate Action and a National Climate Change Action Plan within one year, and formalizing the institutional arrangements of key bodies provided for in the Act.
In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari signed Nigeria’s National Climate Change Act into law on 18 November 2021. The passage of this Act followed Nigeria’s pledge at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow of net-zero emissions by 2060. Both the passage of this Act and Nigeria’s net-zero pledge signal the government of Nigeria’s deep commitment to raising its ambition and continuing its drive towards low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. The Climate Change Bill was passed earlier by the House of Representatives on July 8 and the Senate on October 13.
Now with the Act signed into law, the government of Nigeria will establish a National Council on Climate Change, reporting to the Office of the President, and develop a Climate Change Fund to finance further climate action. Additionally, the Act will establish national carbon budgets in line with national planning and budgeting cycles and develop a five-year National Climate Change Action Plan to be approved by the federal executive council. The Act will also provide clarity on climate change actions for ministries, departments and agencies, and public and private entities with civil society and educational leaders developing national curricula. Finally, it will promote nature-based solutions through the establishment of a REDD+ registry and natural capital accounting in national development planning.
Nigeria’s Act is an achievement that comes years in the making, following multiple drafts submitted to the federal executive council and parliament for consideration and extensive discussions with national stakeholders and legal experts. Through the Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP), the NDC Partnership supported the federal ministry of environment along with the Environmental Resource Center, a national non-governmental organization, in facilitating a legal working group that advised on early drafts of the Climate Change Bill. This legal working group was comprised of legal experts from the federal ministries of environment; finance, budget and national planning, and justice, as well as national research institutions and universities, state-level climate officers, and civil society. Collectively, these experts advised on key provisions that were included in the final Act, including for national climate-action planning, the development of a climate change fund, and provisions for public participation.
With both Acts formalized into law, the process of implementation and putting them into action will begin. In 2022, both countries will work to operationalize their respective Acts and to enhance climate action at the country level, and the NDC Partnership stands ready and committed to support Uganda and Nigeria along the way.