The news is all over the place regarding the pounding the Americas are getting from storms and hurricanes. They come in varying nomenclature- Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricanes Katia and Jose. They mean two things- destruction and death on a scale that will remain unprecedented in history. It is reported that Texas alone suffered a loss of $125 billion. Moody’s Analytics estimate $97 billion in destruction alone and some $108 billion in total damages counting lost output.
All eyes are said to be on Hurricane Irma as it moves toward Florida, but it’s not alone. Jose and Katia are strengthening, bringing the number of hurricanes churning in the Atlantic basin to three. Experts claim that this is the first time since 2010 that three active hurricanes have been in the Atlantic almost at the time.
This is sure to refocus international attention on the issue of climate change or global warming, an issue that was strategically articulated in the Paris Agreement that was repudiated by the Donald Trump administration. While justifying his decision to pull the United States out of the Agreement, Trump said that ‘the risks grow as historically these agreements only tend to become more and more ambitious over time. In other words, the Paris framework is just a starting point, as bad as it is, not an end point. And exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States sovereignty and massive future legal liability.’ With what is happening in the Southern United States with reference to the extent of damage caused by this natural phenomenon, it is obvious that the liability that Trump believed he was running away from is accumulating anyway as not long after, as if in protest, nature could be said to be holding the country to account for the misstep of her leader. It needs be stated, though, that the decision of President Trump to pull America out of the climate change Agreement has not gone down well with the United States’ scientific and business communities.
However, it will be stressing the visible that the effect of the global warming is not being felt in the Americas alone as states in Nigeria are literally in the eye of the storm. The direct consequences of climate change have occurred by way of flood disasters in many parts of Nigeria including Lagos, Niger, Enugu, Imo and Benue States. Erosion is tearing Oko in Anambra State apart. Benue, Kogi and parts of Niger States are feeling the impact of flood occasioned by heavy rains.
The Economist had in its recent edition commented on the the Worldwide consequences of climate change and these floods occurring in Nigeria are interconnected with these factors.
It pointed out that the frequency and severity of hurricanes vary naturally. That is a valid point, in our opinion. It also noted that Americans have seen unusual few in the past decade and said that the underlying trend is what one would expect from climate change. It affirmed that developing countries are under-insured against natural disaster.
It warned that flooding strengthens the case for minimizing climate change, which threatens to make wet places wetter and storms stormier. Nigeria, in our view, must get it right. Presidential Committee on flood relief and rehabilitation, a private sector powered initiative headed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote is reported to have provided N250 million as relief assistance to victims of the devastating floods in Benue State. Beside the donation in Benue, the presidential committee revealed that it has also donated the sum of N150 million (in kind) to provide relief assistance to flood victims in Anambra State.
It also released the sum of sum of N118 million to National Emergency management Agency (NEMA) to augment the N1.6 billion released by the Federal Government for procurement of food and non-food relief materials in aid of the flood victims in the following 16 states. Nigeria, we emphasise, is a party to the Paris Agreement on Climate change. But in terms of preparedness, commitment and managerial acumen and the enabling national mechanisms for checking the effects of climate change, the country is, without doubt, deficient. We urge the government, therefore, to put in place a national legal framework to tackle climate change as enunciated in the Paris Agreement which did not make provision for ad hoc arrangements as is presently the case in the country.