Since more than ten years ago, numerous studies and research projects have been conducted on the existential threat that climate change poses to the Nigerian economy. All of these studies have demonstrated that, if immediate positive action is not done, the economy will continue to decline.
Although Nigeria has implemented policies and programs to address the issues related to climate change, the government may not be recognizing this multi-headed monster for what it is.
As the country works to adapt to or minimize the effects of climate change, perhaps steps commensurate with the seriousness of this issue will be taken into consideration.
Climate Affected Institutions
The institution most impacted by climate change is agriculture. Many people who live in rural areas cultivate crops, raise cattle, or fish for their consumption. Rising average temperatures, sea level rise, an increase in the frequency of catastrophic weather events like rainstorms and floods, and an increase in the variation in the distribution of rainfall, humidity, and other weather factors that are important for agriculture are all signs of climate change.
The North is losing arable areas for cultivation and grazing for livestock due to desert encroachment. Strong desert winds and rising temperatures decrease crop production and boost pest populations. Increased temperatures will also cause existing sparse and under-pressure water sources to flow less freely. Farmers lack the technology or expertise to adapt to these unfavourable consequences of climate change or to counteract them. Planting and harvesting seasons fluctuate throughout time. Losses in agricultural output, inescapable price increases for agricultural goods, and ultimately significant economic losses are all nightmare scenarios for farmers. The farmers further south, who are also affected by the same broad issue but in various ways, run into issues when the nomads of the north relocate in quest of greener pastures.
Floods, sea level rise, and more regular rainstorms have all come to be associated with the south, endangering crop output. Estuaries where young fish mature may be flooded by rising sea levels and floods, reducing fish production. Fears are rampant in southern coastal towns where fishing is the primary economic activity and their fish farms may one day be destroyed by the frequent rainstorms and floods that plague their lands. As communities start to battle over limited resources put at risk by the negative effects of climate change, insecurity takes centre stage. Investors from abroad and locally are impacted by insecurity. Once more, the economy of the nation suffers greatly when investors leave Nigeria’s fertile land for nations where their operations and earnings aren’t threatened by inter-communal violence.
The negative consequences of climate change have a significant impact on the energy sector as well. Reduced flows in the rivers and lakes that provide hydroelectric power are a result of higher temperatures. It is challenging to maintain and stabilize hydroelectric power generation due to rising sea levels, greater rains, and floods. Since hydropower is the primary source of electricity in the nation, power-generating unpredictability increases business operating expenses, which in turn raises consumer goods prices. Additionally, potential investors wouldn’t want to fund projects where the energy source is uncertain. The subsector of fossil fuels is also impacted. Nigeria’s primary sources of income are the sales of oil and gas.
The majority of the factories that make these fossil fuels are centred in the southern coastal regions. These regions are the most susceptible to extreme rainstorms, floods, and sea level rise. Biofuels are not excluded. Energy crops utilized as biodiesel and bioethanol alternatives in rural and some urban applications cannot be grown in harsh environmental conditions. According to studies, the number of generating facilities in the area might decrease by roughly half with a 0.2-meter rise in sea level. If even one of these predictions comes true, the economy will be in grave jeopardy.
The country is travelling down a dangerous path if the number of people who have been internally displaced as a result of recent flooding catastrophes is any indication. Given that climate change poses a threat to undo all of the advancements the country has made in boosting its economy over the past two to three decades, adaptive and mitigating actions must be accelerated and approached with greater urgency. The several economic sectors impacted by climate change include the tourism industry, which is not exempt.
The coastal regions of southern Nigeria are home to numerous game reserves, recreational parks, hotels, and tourist destinations. Some of the top tourist destinations in Africa may be found in Nigeria, from the Agbokim waterfalls in Cross River to the Ibeno beach in Akwa Ibom. But if these areas aren’t adequately safeguarded, some of these locations may be lost due to rising sea levels, rising temperatures, and floods. The GDP of Nigeria benefited from tourism in 2021 by 3.6%. Nigeria may lose a sizable source of income if these tourism hotspots are lost or if visitors no longer feel comfortable there.
As the effects of climate change worsen, the health sector will be under additional stress. The availability and quality of potable water for drinking and other domestic uses are significantly impacted by temperature changes, rising sea levels, and floods.
The main cause of cholera, which is mostly to blame for the mortality in water-stressed places of the nation, is poor water quality. The elderly and other vulnerable populations are more susceptible to heat strokes in higher temperatures. The nation’s health infrastructure is underfunded and overwhelmed. Losses in personnel due to health problems and huge increases in government spending on health care could hinder economic growth as the effects of climate change become more pronounced.
Where do we go from here?
Although previous administrations’ efforts were praiseworthy, much more work needs to be done to develop resilient, adaptive, or mitigating mechanisms to strengthen the nation’s defences against this reality. Nigeria must also make an effort to engage more actively in global climate change problems. Renewable resources, which are abundant in Nigeria but underutilized and underdeveloped, are also well-endowed. Through investments in its renewable energy sector, renewable energy will reduce emissions while giving the nation a source of income.
In contrast to the 1.8% decline between 2019 and 2020, the GDP increased by 3.6% between 2020 and 2021. Major contributors to this net positive were the agricultural and service industries. Perhaps more resources should be allocated to the government’s efforts to combat climate change to raise public awareness of its negative effects, enhance individual capacity, provide technology to help farmers operate their businesses profitably and safely, research into climate change resilient species, alternative farming methods, adequate data collection and information management systems, and investments in adaptive technology.