Labour, budgeting and climate change (2)

Eze Onyekpere

The Ministry of Labour and Employment continued the prevalent tradition of other MDAs with a lot of votes in maintenance of fossil fuel-fired generators, fuel for the plants, international travels and transport, etc. The total vote for these items over the four years was in hundreds of millions of naira. However, the use of fossil fired generators in the ministry could be gradually replaced with renewable energy sources. Programming as if climate change is not real or budgeting without taking cognisance of climate change is in effect budgeting to decrease capacities for resilience, adaptation and mitigation. It will be very difficult to design “climate change neutral” projects. Budgetary votes and their implementation either work for or against climate change effects.

In the absence of climate change specific projects and programmes in the budget of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment for the four-year period under study, there are some projects which can offer low hanging fruits and can be adopted as either adaptation or mitigation measures to climate change effects. Some of these measures will be discussed in the following paragraphs. The ministry should through its National Directorate of Employment focus more on sustainable and environmentally friendly activities, which can ultimately create green jobs. The jobs being created by the NDE and the skills it imparts should be selected based on the criteria of the reduction of carbon and other GHGs. High emitting skills and jobs should be avoided. The skills acquisition curriculum should emphasise green job skills. Also, skills in the development and deployment of renewable energy systems, adoption of cleaner technologies across all sectors will invariably generate new jobs across the value chain and should be given special consideration in the ministry’s programming.

Considering the large number of Nigerians employed in agriculture, climate smart agricultural practices, water conservation and management, forest conservation, etc. should be part of the skills imparted at the skills acquisition centres. In collaboration with the MDAs in agriculture and environment, forest zones should be created and trees rich in agricultural and economic benefits such as Shea butter should be planted in them. The Shear butter tree helps improve soil structure as well as provide economic benefits. Integrated farming settlements that produce cereals, tubers, meat, milk, etc. based on organic farming techniques whilst utilizing what would have otherwise amounted to waste to generate energy has been practised in many countries and can find replication here.

Certain jobs should be substituted as a consequence of industrial transformation. For example, jobs in waste incineration plants will be substituted with jobs in recycling facilities. The ministry should develop detailed guidelines and regulations for employment, jobs and skills across the sectors regarding their contribution to climate change and GHG emissions. While it is important to expand infrastructure that will create new jobs, it is equally important to reduce vulnerability by building resilience (climate-proofing) of existing infrastructure in order not to lose jobs that might be occasioned by extreme weather events.

The budget of the ministry focused more on recurrent expenditure for the four-year period under study with little allocation for capital projects, which would have been a catalyst for the creation of new jobs. Therefore, it is essential to increase capital allocations to the ministry and to reallocate resources within the ministry to catalyse investments in adaptation, mitigation and environmental remediation for sustainable jobs and livelihoods. The ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment should consider new funding sources including green bonds and specific infrastructure bonds tied to creating green jobs. The key mitigation measures adopted in the Nigerian Nationally Determined Contribution would require skilled labour, expertise and sound knowledge of the personnel to implement the measures. Therefore, training and retraining of labour force becomes imperative. This will involve collaboration between key ministries including education and the environment. Already declining allocations to labour related training should be addressed. There is a need for constant training and retraining. The Michael Imoudu Institute for Labour Studies which is the major institution for labour-related training in Nigeria should be used as a focal point to harness and disseminate labour-related climate change knowledge. Labour and climate change issues should be included in our academic curriculum from secondary school level as is being done in some countries like Japan.

The ministry should engage organised labour on the need for “a just transition of the work force and the creation of decent works and quality jobs” that respond to reduction of the GHGs. This will enhance education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and cooperation on the transition. This includes specifically, the promotion of renewable energy technology which generates more jobs in local production/manufacture, installation and service. It is imperative to build local capacity to produce appliances such as solar panels and equipment rather than importing them. Young engineers and technologists can be trained by the NDE to do this.

In the budget reform process, there is the need to develop an executive budget preparation framework that mainstreams the creation of sustainable green jobs as a key indicator for admission into the budget. This will imply the ranking of climate change commitments and standards as high level national policies which will be considered by MDAs during the preparation of the medium term sector strategies and the budget. The reforms will include the development of a legislative oversight framework that mainstreams the creation of sustainable green jobs as a key indicator for successful implementation of budgets. The ministry should engage and sensitise National Assembly members to understand the nexus between climate change and job creation/loss in a bid to facilitate climate sensitive constituency projects that can create jobs. For the foregoing to be impactful, monitoring and evaluation systems that take cognise of sustainability will be mainstreamed in public finance management whilst the work of the Auditor General in auditing public expenditure will also mainstream, climate change challenges.

As climate change will have an enormous impact on employment and the labor market, it is important that adaptation and mitigation measures are in compliance with the principle of sustainable development and take into account its “three pillars”; i.e. environmental protection, social development and economic growth. Policy coherence at the national level will better ensure that the negative effects from adaptation and mitigation measures on employment and the labor market are reduced. Without regulations and labor market efforts to address this impact, especially in relation to participation, social protection and working conditions, unemployment and poverty may increase.


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Source: Punch

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