Nigerians have become increasingly concerned about extreme weather conditions, notably “Heat” in dry seasons and “Unpredictable Rainfall” in wet seasons. Even if the situation appears bad, if climate change continues on its current path, things will only become worse.
The impact of the global increase in average temperature, otherwise known as climate change, on Nigeria’s climate has become undeniable, manifesting in diverse environmental phenomena such as variable rainfall duration and intensity, rising sea level and consequent coastal flooding, extreme heat, drought, desertification, and loss of biodiversity.
Mr Ikechukwu has had a firsthand experience that cost him a pretty sum; he said, “I got a N100 million contract from an oil and gas company (name withheld). I was to deliver the contract in Delta state in 12 weeks. However, with devastating rainfall since June, I am yet to meet 20% completion. I also incurred several cost variations grossing over N30 million.”
Ikechukwu blames this on climate change and insists he must now factor it in when quoting for jobs of this nature. “It’s a clear business risk and something that should concern everyone into construction,” he added.
According to the United Nation’s latest climate report, two main areas of Nigeria’s economy are at high risk for methane gas emissions: cattle rearing and the oil and gas industry. To save the planet, scientists want countries involved in the two sectors to curb their methane gas emissions.
The UN affirmed that cutting methane emissions is a faster route to curbing global warming than reducing carbon emissions. A single CO2 molecule causes less global warming than methane, making methane a greater danger.
According to reports, livestock may create between 250 and 500 liters of methane each day, with most methane passing down their intestines as farts. Chemical processes in the stomachs of cows and other grazing animals as they break down vegetation produce around 70% of agricultural methane. Meaning curtailing climate change would lead to less meat consumption. Although, many livestock producers are not concerned about this phenomenon; Musa, a cow seller, said, “I don’t concern myself with climate change; I just sell my meat.”
However, the importance of climate change can’t be overemphasized as it could lead to the displacement of individuals and loss of life and properties. Dr Andrew Nevin, a Chief economist at PWC, highlighted the importance of climate change on Nigeria at Nairametrics Economic Roundtable. He said, “Even if the global warming is held at 2%, 10- 25% of the population would be underwater, which means a big part of the Delta and maybe all of Lagos would be underwater. This is a problem not in the future but now for Nigeria, and we need to take it more seriously.”
Donald Umunna, an Energy Consultant at ILF Consulting Engineers and formal Technical Assistant to the Director of National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, opined that climate change has a significant impact on the electricity sector in Nigeria.
He said, “Ever wonder why the power supply goes out when it’s raining? – this is because with rain comes wind, and with wind comes dangling of the conductors, trees falling, amongst other casualties. Because the different protection mechanisms for our power system are not sophisticated or robust enough, certain severe damages can occur if they are not turned off.
“This is why network operators always turn it off. Hence, the more the rain, the higher the negative impact on revenue to the power industry. Also, concerning Maximum efficiency- for every 1 unit of power generated, it requires a certain amount of fuel. Now, if the power plant is not functioning at a good efficiency, it would consume more fuel and result in more emissions of greenhouse gases than it is meant to. During the dry season where the atmospheric temperature is boiling, the thermal plant tends to function less efficiently.”
Dr Jeremiah Ejemeyovwi of the faculty of Economics at Covenant University, and a research fellow at CEPDeR, opined that the effect of climate change would affect food shortages and unemployment, particularly in the agriculture sector, and aggravate food security issues in the country, leading to a fall in economic growth.
He said, “The inconsistency of weather pattern would destabilize the agriculture sector which is a major employer of labour in Nigeria and a major contributor to GDP, causing; food shortages and unemployment in the economy. The structure of the Nigerian economy makes the poorer faction of the population bear the brunt of the losses in the climate change dilemma. However, the situation would only get worse if policymakers take this threat likely.”
Furthermore, climate change may aggravate problems in the health sector, in Nigeria, illnesses such as malaria are becoming more prevalent as a result of climate change. Mosquitoes thrive in stagnant water, where they reproduce and spread malaria. Life-threatening malaria complications are frequent in persons of all ages, including children and the elderly.
According to WHO, Nigeria accounts for 23% of the deaths caused by malaria globally, with an estimated number of worldwide deaths standing at 409,000 in 2019. Climate change would further aggravate these deaths.
Why does climate change matter?
Several of Nigeria’s economic sectors have been affected by climate change, which impacts Nigeria’s economic growth. If this global concern continues unaddressed, the long-term consequences would have far-reaching and devastating effects on the Nigerian economy: poverty, hunger, and disease outbreaks. As the aftermath, crime could balloon into unmanageable proportions.
Donald Umunna also suggested ways to mitigate the effects of climate change, he said- “Some measures to be adopted to avert the consequences of climate change include – Operational/organizational measures – this involves making some adjustments internally. Better and more sophisticated design of the dam, power conductors, and power stations.
“Financial measures- this involves transferring the risk to a third party by taking up an insurance policy against flooding of farms that would result in loss of crops or damage of transformers.
“Hedging/ diversifying portfolios – such as investing in companies seeking to address the effect of climate change, e.g., companies producing more resilient buildings, industries producing better insulators, better transformers, etc. Also, the company could develop a robust database to collect information on the weather conditions around the year to determine the overall impact of climate change on every aspect of their business. With all this information, they’ll be able to put measures in place in terms of adjustment of operations to avert any negative consequence of climate change.”