CLIMATE CHANGE IN NIGERIA by Moses Godwin

First Published 17.03.2021

Climate change is an adverse environmental phenomenon that is causing enormous concern all over the world. It refers to some anomalies in the climate system that is as a result of human activities. It’s imperative you understand the difference between weather and climate. Weather can change from season to season, day to day even hour to hour. Weather reflects short-term conditions in the atmosphere. Climate, on the other hand, refers to the averages temperatures and precipitation rates over time, it can result in profound impacts on planet.

Climate change has become a defining issue of the 21st Century. Scientists around the world have looked at data from Satellites. They have studied weather patterns and measured changes to the earth’s climate. Human activity currently releases over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Greenhouse gas concentration will continue to warm the earth. The climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it. The alarm bells keep ringing. No nation is immune. We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.  

Call by experts around the globe for United Nations assembly to place pressure on all member nations to take specific actions in such a way to reduce the billions of tons of greenhouse gas produce each year with a view to address climate change’s global impact is a step in the right direction.

In the past, changes in our climate resulted from natural causes, such as differences in the sun’s activity and volcanic eruptions. However, Scientists cannot explain the warming we experienced in the past 100 years without including greenhouse gases emitted by human activity. Understanding climate change around us and how it affects us is key. Greenhouse gases are several chemical compounds found in the earth’s atmosphere which would trap heat that would normally be released out to space. Some of these compounds occur in nature, such as carbon dioxide and methane. However,  others are exclusively human -made and are found in sources like hair spray,  paint fumes and aerosol sprays. GHGs,     HFCs, in the earth’s atmosphere are responsible for the global warming and variability in the temperatures.

Further increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is largely due to carbon dioxide emission caused by burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas over the past 100 years. When these fuels are burned, carbon stored in them for millions of years is released in an instant – directly into the atmosphere – as carbon dioxide. Too large a concentration of greenhouse gases act like a blanket, making the earth warmer and throwing off the atmosphere’s natural energy balance.

Nigeria is one of the World’s most densely populated countries with a population of over 200 million people, half of which are considered to be in abject poverty.  Nigeria is recognized as being vulnerable to climate change. The emission from gas flaring, open burning, vehicle emission and use of fossil for cooking are some typical causes of climate change in Nigeria. The resultant effects include conflicts caused by competitative increase demand and pressure on land resources, extreme climate events such as flooding, heat,  and drought which has led to soil degradation which results into low crop yields, decline in agricultural productivity as seen in livestock production, fisheries, forestry and post-harvest activities which discouraged farmers leading to change in livelihood in the rural settings and migration especially by pastoralists.  Others are draught, deforestation, increase in temperature and humidity, increase pests and diseases.

Refocusing on climate change issues is one subject that cannot be down played by world leaders. Worldwide, nations are being supported by non-State actors to strengthen their internal capacity to address impacts of climate change.  Nigeria is committed to reduce greenhouse emission by 20 percent unconditionally and 45 percent with international support, according to the department of climate change. The  Federal Ministry of Environment (FMOE) has established the department of climate change (DCC), saddled with the responsibilities of implementing pragmatic climate change policies and programmes. State and non- State actors should further sustain action in the following direction to mitigate climate change: 
Increase agriculture productivity :- Since Nigeria is still practicing rain fed agriculture which renders her vulnerable to climate change, there’s need for State and non-State actors to invest money and other resources for sustainable agricultural  production to meet the increasing demand for food for the growing population in the country.

Priority should be given to vision 20:2020 :- The importance of sustaining efforts, synergy and other necessary mechanism put in place by State and non-State actors to further cut down on gas flaring, and also re-equipping NESREA, other relevant regulatory institutions targeted towards achieving the goals of vision 20:2020 cannot be overemphasized. 

Information and training campaigns :- Training of trainers is an effective way of new information – processing frame work, and stepping down training and skills. This approach reduces incidence concerning Informatics. Ensuring sustained education and community mobilizing for action, using multi-sectorial approach with a view to changing the mind-set of the populace through food and energy – use choices that can result in improve health; particularly through reduced air pollution needed in all sectors. This is one task that must be taken serious in order to reduce emission of greenhouse gases which drive climate change thereby limiting it adverse effects on the environment.

Switch to renewable energy :- Government is encourage to show leadership by providing incentives, tax holiday to local and international pioneer investors, willing to set up factories for mass production of photo-voltaic cells/ solar panels in the country which would invariably reduce cost of procurement,  making it available and affordable. Such development would further improve maintenance of existing solar power stations as well as building new ones. The benefits of replacing coal and gas power turbines which releases carbon in to the atmosphere with renewable energy facilities, capable of reducing greenhouse gases to a large extent; like nuclear power stations that could be used for different purposes particularly for generation of electricity is enormous.

Better transport :- There should be conscious effects to leverage on technology to design and produce solar powered automobiles and heavy duty engines utilizing environmental friendly energy, thus reducing reliance on fossils fuel. This is the time for policy makers to develop better transport sector in Nigeria that would seemlessly key in to global campaigns against climate change through strategic programmes and policies including timeline to gradually face -out diesel and petrol powered engines. Such initiative  should be incorporated into Nigerian’s automobile policy.

Sustained Tree planting campaigns and enforcement of the law prohibiting indescriminate felling of Trees:- The first rule to restoration and recovery is to establish more tree planting. Active human intervention is a key part to restoration, there’s need for stakeholders to intensify synergy  towards restoration and preservation of the ecosystem. Also, establishment of climate change department in every State and Local Government and training climate change officers is key in tracking National progress in protecting health, food security and Ecosystem.  

Financial resources, research and development :- The deployment of financial resources in research and founds towards harnessing renewable energy and mass productions of solar refrigerators, cooking stoves and other heating equipments and engines is the way to go. Once there are affordable alternatives energy sources in the market, the use of non-environmental friendly machines/ gadgets will be reduced.

Equipping and retraining :- Public health professionals and other emergency workers should be retrain to better respond to emergency situations using global best practices to manage morbidity and mortality associated with climate change which could arise from more frequent outbreaks of endemic and emerging water borne and vector borne infectious diseases such as cholera, Lassa fever, as well as mortality that follow extreme weather events, like heat waves and flood.
Government should live up to its responsibility:- It should be seen playing it own side of the bargain by sanctioning citizens who blocked drainages and canals, built on water ways, flood plains, despite several warnings and public enlightenment and sensitization on the dangers of such unpatriotic act  instead of giving them the kid glove treatment.

Global climate change is reshaping the biosphere. Tampering with the global thermostat. Plants and animals have  being subjected to ecosystem shifts. The good news is that the world is finally waking up to this challenge, and there is much we can do to reduce our reliance on fossils. Knowledge and skills about climate change will help Nigerians to know in practical terms, what specific actions need to be taken to mitigate against the disastrous effects of climate change.

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