As the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) under the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicks off in Poland today with President Muhammadu Buhari in attendance, it is time Nigeria began to pay the required attention to the statistical distribution of weather patterns also known as climate change and when that change goes on for over a period of time. Media reports indicate that in 2018, Nigeria experienced flood disasters affecting 12 states and 327,000 people, as well as 60 hectares of farmland across the states.
The primary cause of global warming is attributed to some human activities such as cutting down trees, bush burning, and carbon monoxide emission, among others. Again, more cause for concern is the report suggesting that the country’s Guinea Savannah is equally depleting as a result of logging and over dependence on fire wood for domestic activities. And in some parts of the South East and South South, there have been reports of gulley erosion which has destroyed several settlement and farmlands.
The rising sea levels are also threatening the country’s coastal regions. We cannot forget the vital issue of the drying up of Lake Chad. This situation alone is serious because of it economic and security implications. Reports by the United States of America National Agency for Space Administration (NASA’s) Global Climate Change, warn that Lake Chad is slowly being transformed into a desert landscape. It was said to be about the size of Lake Erie in the mid-1960s. However, the report states that persistent drought conditions, added to increased demand for freshwater for irrigation, have reduced Lake Chad to about five percent of its former size. ‘As the waters receded, the silts and sediments resting on the lakebed were left to dry in the scorching African sun. ‘
The Lake Chad Basin area of which Nigeria is part of (as Lake Chad is mostly in the far west of Chad, bordering on North eastern (Nigeria) is also said to be facing one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises as a result of attacks by the Boko Haram sect in Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad.
The less than desirable attention paid to global warming in Nigeria, in the opinion of this newspaper, has led to all of these issues which must be addressed through preventive and adaptive measures. To this effect, more research and studies should be carried out on ways to tackle global warming in Nigeria. With knowledge of key theories, methods and sources of information, an agenda can be set for this administration to fully engage in fighting this scourge.
More awareness and Nigeria’s participation in the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) assessment framework and risks to better set the pace for government agencies on Climate change is required as global warming affects all. One of such programmes already exists in Nigeria which is the strengthening of stakeholders’ capacity towards mainstreaming climate change into state development plans organised by Department of Climate Change under the Federal Ministry of Environment and National Planning Commission (NPC) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
There is also the development of National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change for Nigeria (NASPA-CNN). The country is a member of the Paris Agreement (Accord de Paris). This is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance, to commence by year 2020. As of November 2018, out of 195 UNFCCC members that have signed the agreement, 184 have become party to it.
The Paris Agreement’s long-term goal is to guard against the increase in global average temperature to below 2°c above pre-industrial levels and to limit the rise to 1.5°c, since this would substantially reduce the risks and impact of global warming. Again, the primary causes of global warming should be addressed and controlled to preserve not just Nigeria, but the entire planet. To prepare for the effects of global warming, adaptation is key. Adapting to global warming in a way that recognises the varying needs and vulnerabilities of all sections of the society should be targeted.
Accordingly, we urge the Government and civil society organisations in the country to as a matter of utmost urgency, embark upon means of tackling this crucial issue of global warming for a safer Nigeria and a healthier planet.