The high weather temperature with its associated changing rainfall levels, heat waves, tsunamis, droughts and other natural disasters are giving scientists concerns. In this piece, JOHNSON EYIANGHO examines the impacts of climatic change on Nigeria’s environment, agriculture and economy.
An agricultural economist, Dr Temidayo Apata at Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Ikeji-Arakeji, recently recalled that scientific literature indicates that the world is experiencing higher temperatures and changing rainfall levels. He said the effects of this would result in low/poor agricultural products, observing that climate change had telling effects on crop yields in many countries, including Nigeria.
He noted further that the country’s vulnerability to climate change was demonstrated by the recent devastating effects of flooding in the Niger Delta region and the various prolonged droughts in some northern parts of the country. Environmentalists note that although the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming from Nigeria is insignificant, the country is committed to reducing emission arising from gas flaring.
They observe that Nigeria may lose between six and 30 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2050 if urgent steps are not taken to address the negative effects global warming. Alluding to this observation, the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, said the impact of climate change in the country had resulted in weather-related natural disasters.
“Following the 2012 floods, the cost of physical and durable assets destroyed in the affected states is estimated at N1.48 trillion,’’ she said. Mohammed noted that the effect of climate change was also evident in the reduction in size of the Lake Chad basin.
She said the current reduction of the lake’s size and its water that “provides a means of sustenance to millions of people has become a cause of concern. “It is currently less than 10 per cent of its original size and little of the remaining water is in Nigeria”.
The minister, nonetheless, said that Nigeria would generate power, create employment and wealth to improve the lives of the people to mitigate the effect of climate change.
“We are not going to pull back the growth of our economy and taking care of the poor because we want to go green at our cost when we did not cause the incident of climate change,” Mohammed said. The minister said that the country should take the challenges posed by climate change to diversify its economy, stressing that diversification was fundamental to checking the effects of climate change.
“Diversification, especially towards sustainable agriculture is already a key part of the country’s economic strategy,’’ she said. She said diversification should tend towards low-carbon climate resilient growth that offered productivity and development.
The minister solicited a low-carbon reduction strategy, energy efficient lighting and renewable solar power, among others, as parts of methods of managing climate change effect. “A low-carbon strategy that focuses on reducing natural gas flaring and capturing the gas for commercial use in the power and other sectors could generate as much as 7.5 billion dollars,’’ she said.
However, an analyst, Dr habil. Klaus Paehler, said “it is argued that Africa needs not care about climate change because in global dimensions Africa itself produces negligible greenhouse gases. Climate change is primarily caused by the developed countries, so they should be the ones dealing with it. However, it is the bitter irony of destiny that Africa contributes least of all the continents to the climate change, but will probably suffer most from its consequences”.
Sharing similar sentiments, another analyst, Mr Nasiru Medugu, noted that Nigeria’s development plan did not recognise the threat caused by the climate change nor the menace of declining oil prices which could arise from a reduced consumption of fossil fuel.
In the light of this, concerned citizens call on the Federal Government to put in place good measures to check the effects of climate change. They urge both government and the private sector to drive the environment sector through consistent policies, funding and infrastructure development. According to them, climate change is among the most serious environmental threats to the fight against hunger, malnutrition, disease and poverty in Africa. “Managing its effect will involve intense research efforts, awareness creation and capacity building, among others,’’ they observe. (NAN)