Climate change poses severe and multiple threats to Nigeria’s current and future development and should be taken more seriously by the Nigerian government and other critical stakeholders, a new report by Agora Policy, an Abuja-based think tank, has said.
“It is evident that climate change is not a marginal or peripheral issue that the government and the people of Nigeria can take lightly,” says the report titled “Climate Change and Socio-Economic Development in Nigeria,” which was released today in Abuja and was produced with the support of the MacArthur Foundation.
The report acknowledges and details a plethora of climate-related initiatives, including policies, programmes and projects and even the 2021 climate change law put in place or undertaken by successive Nigerian governments but it claims that the potentials of these initiatives and interventions are undercut by the absence of commensurate action, lack of synergy and inadequate funding.
According to the 84-page report, Nigeria, despite her relatively low emission profile, is already bearing the brunt of the effects of changes in climatic conditions and of adverse weather events but that the tolls could be significantly higher. Unless urgent and bold actions are taken, the report adds, Nigeria risks becoming one of the worst-affected countries by climate change, with grave implications for the country’s currently fragile economic, social and human development indicators.
“Climate change is compounding poverty challenges in Nigeria and impeding the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals,” adds the report. “Climate change is already increasing hunger, poverty, disease-burden, migration, conflict and insecurity in Nigeria. It is damaging infrastructure, changing Nigeria’s coastlines, fuelling desertification, producing water scarcity, facilitating erosion and resulting in the loss of revenue for states and the national government.”
The report states that as at 2020 Nigeria losses at least $100 billion annually to the effects of climate change and the country may lose trillions of dollars in manufacturing, construction and oil and gas assets likely to become stranded as the world gravitates to a green economy.
“Nigeria risks becoming a stranded country,” the report asserts. “Climate change has the potential to further jeopardise Nigeria’s economic development and alter its geographical, social and political trajectory for decades.”
The report highlights the different channels through which adverse effects of climate change could worsen in Nigeria and further compound the country’s developmental challenges. Some of the highlighted areas include: projected2.9- and 5.7-degree Celsius rise in temperature across different ecological zones in the country; increased occurrence of floods, droughts, erosion and rising sea levels; the likelihood that 75% of the delta could be lost; and further adverse effects on agricultural yields, food security, health burdens, water and energy sufficiency, peace and security, and adequacy and longevity of critical infrastructure.
However, the report also identifies opportunities for Nigeria to address climate change while supporting economic growth and resilience.
“Climate change offers opportunities for economic competitiveness, energy security, and sustainable development,” states the report. “There are many climate-led opportunities that Nigeria can explore to enable rapid economic growth, create jobs for a rapidly growing youthful and urbanising population, and address high levels of abject poverty and inequality through a just transition.”
Urging Nigeria to consciously pursue a climate-compatible development agenda, the report recommended the following strategies to the country: investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, promoting climate-smart agriculture, embracing green manufacturing, harnessing natural resources for adaptation, and enhancing disaster risk reduction systems.
“Leveraging climate action to pursue economic development in Nigeria is not only a viable but an essential strategy,” says the report.
“The global transition from a high-carbon economy to a low-carbon economy is already well underway and will produce winners and losers across the world. Whether Nigeria will swim or sink in the face of the transition will depend on its willingness to take urgent action now and re-align its national development strategies towards a low-carbon economic future. To transform climate change from a significant threat into an opportunity requires deliberate planning supported by immediate, bold and courageous action.”
Other prescriptions made by the report for Nigeria include: strengthening national climate change framework; mainstreaming climate change into the country’s development process; building a climate-resilient and competitive economy; boosting adaptive capacities of communities in different ecological zones in the country; incentivising investment in low-carbon industries; increasing public awareness about climate change; advocating for a fair and just energy transition; and pursuing a collaborative approach to low-carbon development.
“It is our hope that this report will further raise the policy profile of climate change issues in Nigeria and trigger the necessary actions on what is clearly an existential issue for our country,” says Waziri Adio, the founder of Agora Policy. “Climate change did not feature as a major issue in the 2023 general election, despite the significant challenges and opportunities it presents to the country. It has also not featured as a major priority of the new administration. This needs to change, and urgently too.”
The release of the report will be followed by a policy conversation in Abuja on 22 November 2023, with the theme: “Nigeria, Climate Change and the Green Economy.” The event will be organised with partners as part of the buildup to COP28 starting in UAE later this month.
The report was put together by a team of four renowned experts: Professor Chukwumerije Okereke, director of the Centre for Climate and Development at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State; Professor Emmanuel Oladipo, a leading specialist on sustainable development, environment and climate change; Ms. Ifeoma Malo, co-founder of Clean Technology Hub and a development and governance expert; and Dr. Fola Aina, a development, peace and security expert.
Produced with the support of the MacArthur Foundation, the report is the fifth policy paper commissioned by Agora Policy to contribute to national debate before, during and after the landmark 2023 elections in Nigeria. The other four reports focused on the state of the economy, security, gender and social inclusion, and transparency and accountability.