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It will be dangerous to elect climate deniers in 2023 — Stakeholders

Ahead of the February and March 2023 general elections, climate change experts have said it will be a dangerous mistake for Nigerians to elect climate…

Ahead of the February and March 2023 general elections, climate change experts have said it will be a dangerous mistake for Nigerians to elect climate deniers, especially with the impacts of extreme weather events every season.

Raging floods inundated Nigerian communities towards the end of the 2022 rainy season, killing over 600 people and displacing over 1.3 million others, while an extremely cold, windy, and dusty harmattan season has ushered in the New Year, with experts attributing the weather events to changing climate.

The Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP), Dr David Michael, in an interview with Daily Trust said, climate action is critical to the survival of democracy and sustainable development.

But he lamented that, “So far, climate change is under-represented in the campaigns ahead of the 2023 general elections. It will be a dangerous mistake if we elect climate deniers in the 2023 general elections.”

Climate change issues are too important to be left in the hands of deniers. This is because climate change is the crisis of our lifetime, it is the defining issue of today’s world, and that is why we are calling on citizens, especially those in communities impacted by climate change, to ensure that they collect their PVCs and look beyond empty campaign promises and other forms of inducement to vote for candidates that understand climate change issues and have a climate action plan.”

He stressed that Nigeria is very vulnerable to climate change, with dire consequences for the economy of the country and the health and social well-being of the people.

Dr Michael added that the climate change impacts will continue in frequency and magnitude, and if they are not reversed and climate resilience built, the country will be doomed.

He said: “We need a president that will demonstrate Nigeria’s commitment to climate action and invest in renewable energy sources. This needs to happen at the same time as moving away from fossil fuels, implementing an energy transition plan, and much more.

“The implementation of the Climate Act is needed to put us on the path to net zero. This needs to be supported by increased government spending on urgent green projects. These would range from the energy transition plan, investment in renewable energy, increasing clean public transport, and enhancing biodiversity conservation. This investment should be increased even further over time.

“Investing more now will reduce the huge economic and social costs compared with delaying, but it will also guarantee many other important benefits. There’s a big list, including food security, greater social equality, better well-being, healthier food, improved water quality, better flood control and increased access to nature.”

He also said Nigeria needs a president who will form a new government that sees the incredible potential in investing in a new green economy that brings jobs, new skills, and building climate resilience.

Michael added: “Secondly, the new government will have the power to stop projects threatening climate and nature.

“One way the next government can set an example is to stop the irresponsible projects that would lock us into emitting carbon for years to come. These include the removal of subsidies for fossil fuels, a coal-free Nigeria and an end to gas flaring.”

For Prof. Abdullahi Bashir, a communications and climate scholar at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, Adamawa State, said climate change issues are now a matter of life and death.

He said it is unfortunate that despite desertification, flooding, deforestation, and other climatic events devastating communities and impacting negatively on the livelihoods of locals, politicians do not discuss climate change during campaigns.

He also said, “Climate change should be part of the debate leading up to the February-March general elections. But unfortunately, the politicians and the political parties are not making it the main theme of their campaigns.

“Looking at the prevailing circumstances, this is quite unfortunate, there is no awareness of the issue and people are not making demands along those lines, and climate change has been overshadowed by other issues, whereas it is tied to economic growth, development, health, and even survival in other communities.

“It is a worrisome scenario because the fight for climate change action needs political leadership and somebody that understands the issues, somebody that can provide the solutions, and whom the people can vote for. So this lack of interest in climate change is not good for Nigerian society.”