Nigeria and climate change
The attention currently being paid to the negative effects of climate change on social, economic and environmental survival of the world is absolutely justified. In many countries, hurricanes, sandy storms, earthquakes and other disruptive occurrences have threatened lives and survival of both people and resources. Furthermore, scientists have established a greater relationship between humans’ increased levels of carbon-dioxide emission into the environment and the intensity of global warming. They have argued that given the ongoing trends in global usage of energy, increased demand for development and global population growth, the world should expect a corresponding terrible effects of climate change. Therefore, increasing temperature, increasing climate variability, increased rainfall and snowfall, changes in earth systems and severe weather events will have serious damaging effects on human health.
Recently, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts more deadly heat from climate change. The researchers further warned that by 2050, more than 350 million people living in ‘megacities’ would be hit with deadly heat waves every year. Already, scientists have established that environmental disruption is contributing to health threats worldwide. With evidence, they posit that the combination of high heat and humidity poses serious risks to many people, especially infants, children, the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, poor urban residents and coastal residents.
Nigeria thrives on two major sectors. Petroleum and agriculture, making the country highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Nigeria is also a thriving market for fairly used or old vehicles from other countries and these vehicles emit huge volumes of carbon into the atmosphere, making automobiles a major source of air pollution in the urban areas. Also, motorcycle riders in Nigeria add engine oil to their petrol, and this turns the petrol into gasoline, which emits more carbons. Added to these, is the issue of gas flaring. Worse still, inadequate and epileptic supply of electricity by the distribution companies force people to use diesel or fuel power generators, which emit carbons in large quantities into the atmosphere. In the rural areas, major activities that contribute to climate change include bush burning, illegal felling of trees, a means of livelihood for the production of fuel wood and charcoal.
These expose the soil to direct harshness of the sun, which dries up the micro nutrients in the soil and slows or totally stops the growth of the plants. Uncoordinated disposal of refuse and other activities that expose farmlands, residential areas and the atmosphere to degradation also contribute to climate change. As such, Nigerians should prepare for more deadly effects of climate change, which could lead to rise in the cases of illness and death, even if most nations are able to contain global warming at agreed-upon levels. Already, meningitis, which is heat-related has killed 438 persons.
These warnings are coming on the heels of American President Donald Trump’s threat to the major progress made in the battle against climate change over the past decade. One of the things that Trump has pledged to “get rid of” include US, commitment to the Paris climate agreement and payments to the UN climate fund, which helps developing countries, tackle global warming. However, it is heart-warming that President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Paris agreement on climate change, which is yet to be ratified by the National Assembly for it to become an international commitment for Nigeria. As such, the National Assembly should expedite action and ratify this bill.
Against the backdrop of the deadly effects of climate change, it is important that Nigeria mitigates these by letting people appreciate the reality and the need to practice mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation reduces the impact of climate stresses on human and natural systems, while mitigation lowers potential greenhouse gas emissions. As a nation, Nigeria must protect the remaining rain forest in Cross River State as a way of mitigating climate change mitigation. Also, Nigeria should promote sustainable use of energy, consumption preferences and environmental protection. Individuals should plant trees and cash crops like kola-nuts and cocoa; use indigenous technical knowledge to complement government efforts by using saw dust and palm-nut shaft for making fire since the cost of gas and kerosene have sky-rocketed. People must eat more vegetables and drink water while architectural designs of homes should ensure good ventilation.
In pursuit of green growth and a resources-saving society, Nigeria needs to establish sound legislations, policies, regulations and standardisation frameworks and green jobs for the youths. The country should speed up optimisation of the industrial structure, including improvements in energy consumption and use of high quality and alternative energy. It should promote improvement of technological processes and scientific research for energy efficiency and recycling technologies; develop appropriate and further improve existing incentive policies and laws (e.g. PIB) to attract investment; and develop new tools and mechanism such as energy efficiency labeling and energy and water conservation product certification to guide and provide sustainable consumption choices. The Federal Ministry of Environment, and other relevant agencies should latch onto the above in a well-coordinated manner and work to ‘rescue’ the environment.