Since 2020, Nigeria loses at least $100 billion due to the effects of climate change, according to Agora Policy, an Abuja-based think tank dedicated to finding practical solutions to macroeconomic problems affecting Nigeria.
Aside from the monetary losses valued at more than $100 billion, the think tank warned that Africa’s biggest economy may even lose trillions of dollars in much-needed investment in manufacturing, construction, and oil and gas, especially as the world “gravitates to a green economy.”
According to the United Nations, climate change “refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. Such shifts can be natural, due to changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions.” In essence, climate change is a rise in global temperature due to the emission of poisonous gases into the atmosphere or air. This high emission of poisonous gases into the air causes more natural disasters that have terrible impacts on both economic and human costs to people.
In the report titled “Climate Change and Socio-Economic Development in Nigeria,” Agora said that climate change is one of the biggest threats in this millennium. According to the United Nations, it poses severe and multiple threats to Nigeria’s current and future development and should be taken more seriously by the Nigerian government and other critical stakeholders.
“Nigeria risks becoming a stranded country,” the report warned. “Climate change has the potential to further jeopardise Nigeria’s economic development and alter its geographical, social and political trajectory for decades.”
The report urged the government and Nigerians in general to pay more attention to the issues of climate change. “It is evident that climate change is not a marginal or peripheral issue that the government and the people of Nigeria can take lightly,” says the report.
The report acknowledged the amount of work gone into producing a blueprint to solve the problem of climate change, especially undertaken by successive Nigerian governments, “but it claims that the potentials of these initiatives and interventions are undercut by the absence of commensurate action, a lack of synergy, and inadequate funding.”
Agora said, “According to the 84-page report, Nigeria, despite her relatively low emission profile, is already bearing the brunt of the effects of changes in climatic conditions and of adverse weather events but that the tolls could be significantly higher. Unless urgent and bold actions are taken, the report adds, Nigeria risks becoming one of the worst-affected countries by climate change, with grave implications for the country’s currently fragile economic, social and human development indicators.”
It warned that as of now, climate change was not only compounding poverty challenges in Nigeria but making it even more challenging to attain any of the Sustainable Development Goals targets for the country.
“Climate change is already increasing hunger, poverty, disease-burden, migration, conflict and insecurity in Nigeria. It is damaging infrastructure, changing Nigeria’s coastlines, fuelling desertification, producing water scarcity, facilitating erosion and resulting in the loss of revenue for states and the national government.”
The potential effects of climate change
The report highlights the different channels through which adverse effects of climate change could worsen in Nigeria and further compound the country’s developmental challenges.
Some of the highlighted areas include the projected 2.9- and 5.7-degree Celsius rise in temperature across different ecological zones in the country; increased occurrence of floods, droughts, erosion and rising sea levels; the likelihood that 75 percent of the delta could be lost; and further adverse effects on agricultural yields, food security, health burdens, water and energy sufficiency, peace and security, and adequacy and longevity of critical infrastructure.
However, the report also identifies opportunities for Nigeria to address climate change while supporting economic growth and resilience.
“Climate change offers opportunities for economic competitiveness, energy security, and sustainable development,” states the report. “There are many climate-led opportunities that Nigeria can explore to enable rapid economic growth, create jobs for a rapidly growing youthful and urbanising population, and address high levels of abject poverty and inequality through a just transition.”
The report recommended among several things that the country invest “in renewable energy and energy efficiency, promoting climate-smart agriculture, embracing green manufacturing, harnessing natural resources for adaptation, and enhancing disaster risk reduction systems.”
The report also added that “Leveraging climate action to pursue economic development in Nigeria is not only a viable but an essential strategy.”
“The global transition from a high-carbon economy to a low-carbon economy is already well underway and will produce winners and losers across the world. Whether Nigeria will swim or sink in the face of the transition will depend on its willingness to take urgent action now and re-align its national development strategies towards a low-carbon economic future. To transform climate change from a significant threat into an opportunity requires deliberate planning supported by immediate, bold and courageous action.”
Other prescriptions made by the report for Nigeria include: strengthening national climate change framework; mainstreaming climate change into the country’s development process; building a climate-resilient and competitive economy; boosting adaptive capacities of communities in different ecological zones in the country; incentivising investment in low-carbon industries; increasing public awareness about climate change; advocating for a fair and just energy transition; and pursuing a collaborative approach to low-carbon development.
“It is our hope that this report will further raise the policy profile of climate change issues in Nigeria and trigger the necessary actions on what is clearly an existential issue for our country,” says Waziri Adio, the founder of Agora Policy. “Climate change did not feature as a major issue in the 2023 general election, despite the significant challenges and opportunities it presents to the country. It has also not featured as a major priority of the new administration. This needs to change, and urgently too.”
Agora said that the release of the report will be followed by a policy conversation in Abuja scheduled to take place on November 22, 2023, with the theme “Nigeria, Climate Change, and the Green Economy.”
The event will be organised with partners as part of the buildup to COP28, starting in the UAE later this month.