The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement was an acknowledgment of the need to limit heat-trapping Green House Gas (GHG) emissions with a commitment to develop policies to keep global warming well below 2°C. It was understood that if the world carried on in a business-as-usual scenario, we would experience irreversible disaster in the second half of this century due to climate change if and when the global temperature reaches a projected 2°C.
But we set the target wrong. A 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that while the world has been working to avert 2°C warming, we would experience similar outcomes if it gets to 1.5°C. And that outcome is projected to happen sometime between 2030 and 2052.
Suddenly the stakes are higher. We expect damaging impacts at a lower temperature and at a time sooner than initially imagined. Countries have thus been required to integrate adaptation and mitigation policies into their long term development agenda.
Nigeria’s three commitments
In its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) submitted in 2015 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Nigeria declared its commitment to conceptualize and implement energy, agriculture and transportation policies aimed at reducing the flow of Green House Gas.
How are we faring?
Energy: In the document, Nigeria projected that the energy sector would account for an estimated 374 million tonnes per annum in reduced emission by 2030. But to achieve this, Nigeria would have had to significantly improve its power generation, transmission, and distribution capacity, increase energy efficiency and end gas flaring. However, with current capacity and at current run-rate, Nigeria is set to miss this objective.
- A 2016 Investment Guideline from the Federal Ministry of Power estimates that about 66 percent of Nigeria’s energy need is independently sourced through carbon emitting generators.
- Of the 5000 km required gas pipelines to feed existing thermal stations, only 1000 km existed.
- Nigeria flared over 250 billion standard cubic feet of gas in 2018.
- In fact, in the fiscal year 2018, an estimated N623 billion was spent on fuel subsidy while increasing customs duty on solar panels by 100 percent.
- Verdict: With the current energy policy ecosystem and the burgeoning population, Nigeria will most likely continue to burn fossil fuels at a high rate by 2030.
Agriculture: Climate change control requires smart agricultural practices including the use of technology to improve crop and livestock production. However, despite increased fiscal and monetary incentives, yields have not increased in expected proportions and food security still remains a challenge.
- Among other factors, the lack of storage facilities means that Nigeria still wastes a lot of its limited food produce; making it almost impossible to meet the estimated 64 million tons of emission reduction by 2030.
Transportation: There’s a huge transportation infrastructure gap. A critical mass of people and freight move through roads and air transport, and both contribute about seven percent of global GHG emission. Reducing emission in transportation will require a modal shift to high-speed rail. Although there are efforts to achieve this shift, Nigeria’s mitigation target can only be achieved if these projects are delivered at a faster pace.
Adaptation efforts are largely focused on building resilience, reducing vulnerability and addressing more immediate concerns about extreme weather conditions. Drought and desertification are widely observed to have significantly contributed to resource depletion in the Northeast and Middle-Belt; and the resultant conflicts in the regions. In what seems like adaption measure, N2 billion was budgeted for tree planting across states in 2018. However, it’s been argued that the trees might not survive because Nigeria continues to flare gas.
Nigeria is also struggling with floods. The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Engr. Maihaja Mustapha, claimed that Nigeria suffered its most devastating flood disaster in 2018. He stated that although the casualty figure of about 200 people is lower than the 362 recorded in 2012; more people were displaced and the water level of 11.22 was higher than 10.84 in 2012.
The big picture: The consequences of climate change are unequally distributed. Interestingly, rich countries with high historical emissions are more likely to deploy wealth and technology to adapt. Nigeria with historical emission of less than one percent is too poor to cope beyond current levels of extreme weather conditions. Therefore the country must demonstrate in words and actions, unreserved commitments to achieve its commitments.
While policies are needed to encourage environmentally sensitive behavioral adjustment, the public must not be mistaken: climate change will not be an event where everyone will write their death wish. It’s a series of incremental consequences like the floods that destroyed lives and properties; like deathly resource crisis in some parts of the country and not to forget the current heat waves. We all have to care for the environment because we all have a profound stake in a sustainable and livable planet. And yes, the environment is too big and too valuable to fail.