That climate change is probably the biggest threat facing humanity today, is no longer in doubt. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world must cut its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent global warming of 1.5°C, or likely more, above pre-industrial levels in this century.
In its 2019 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP), the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted that this year will be another hot year. It is important to note that a similar scenario was established in which the year 2018 was hotter than the preceding year – the trend is clear for all to see. The mean annual variability and trend of rainfall over Nigeria in the last six decades depicts the existence of several inter-annual fluctuations that have been responsible for dry and wet years or extreme climate events such as droughts and floods in many parts of the country. NiMet has also predicted that as a result of these climatic conditions, incidences of malaria and other diseases would be higher in areas with temperatures ranging between 18 and 32 degrees Celsius and relative humidity above 60 per cent.
More worrisome is the increasing knowledge that the country will be subject to consistent changes in rainfall and temperature conditions, in the not-so-far distant future. Hotter and drier conditions would likely exacerbate the frequency of extreme climate events, such as floods, droughts and heat waves and hamper agricultural production particularly rain-fed agriculture which many Nigerians continue to rely on as source livelihood. Currently, the agriculture sector accounts for around 23% of the country’s real Gross Domestic Product.
Unless timely and integrated adaptation and mitigation interventions are implemented, these negative impacts are likely to jeopardize hard-won development progress across multiple sectors in the country. Already, climate-induced conflicts with major drawbacks are exacerbating fragile security situations across different geopolitical zones of the Federation with the flashpoints mainly in the middle belt. Climate change therefore, poses a significant threat to Nigeria’s development ambitions of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and could stunt and even reverse development gains already made.
The world is in a race to limit climate change and find workable, practical, and cost-efficient solutions to this emergency that is redefining global partnerships in a way not seen before. This is a race we, as humanity, can win. But for this to happen, an unprecedented leadership, sacrifices, concessions and efforts from all nations big or small
Nigeria has ratified the Paris Agreement – this is commendable considering that the country is one of the top six Green House Gases emitters in Africa. The development of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) by the Government embodies the country’s efforts to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. If fully implemented, these efforts will pave way for a low carbon economy and result in about 50% reduction in Nigeria’s Green Gas House (GHG) emissions. At the same time, the economy will grow at an average annual rate of 5% by 2030. This represents an important milestone in tackling the challenges of climate change in the country.
Recently, UNDP launched the NDC Global Outlook Report: The Heat Is On: Taking Stock of Global Climate Ambition and the UNDP Climate Promise to help 100 countries to enhance their NDCs. The report offers a comprehensive review to date of how nations are stepping up climate action and how they are linking these policies to the SDGs. According to the report, nearly half of the world — 75 nations representing 37 per cent of global GHG emissions– are deeply committed to doing the right thing right now.
President Mohammadu Buhari action plan for tackling climate change as laid out at the UNGA this week at Climate Change Summit is therefore both timely, ambitious and essential. It would foster low-carbon, high growth economic development path and build a climate resilient Nigeria. The President’s seven-point action seeks to undertake and reiterates commitment to concrete climate actions towards attaining the Paris goals. The imperativeness of the President’s speech in front of the whole world leaves Nigeria with no other option than to lead the way and provide the needed leadership through raising the necessary ambition that can match the declaration.
UNDP, as lead agency to accelerate climate action is committed to supporting Nigeria to meet its goals as set in the NDC. The UNDP-NDC Support Programme is already fully operationalized in Nigeria with clear target of increased engagement with government and private sector and could be a platform for anchoring some of the President’s declared points at the climate summit. In the important years ahead, three pillars: ambition, acceleration and mobilization will guide and shape our support to the Government of Nigeria towards the Paris Agreement goals.
With leadership comes responsibility, Nigeria has no choice but to lead in the fight for the planet and for future generation. At UNDP, we will remain steadfast and accompany the Government and people of this great country on a path to securing the future of generations to come.
Mohamed Yahya is the UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria