22 June 2011

Nigeria: Climate Change to Bite Harder, But..

Riding on the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Environmentalist and National Coordinator, Climate Change Network Nigeria (CCN-Nigeria), Mr. Surveyor Efik, has said Nigeria is in the league of countries that are bound to face the adverse consequences of Climate Change in the nearest future.

Although Efik is also optimistic that the country could turn the tides around by engaging in efforts that addresses the pre-disposing factors to climate change, he said we are still far from measuring up to what others in the same category are doing to either adapt to it ot prevent further degeneration.

It is in this light that he is urging Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to make Green Economy a key part of the policy framework.

Green Economy is a proactive strategy that takes into account, measures that seeks to protect the environment, biodiversity and the people.

In an electronic statement to Daily Independent, Efik noted that the changing climate is increasingly having visible disastrous effects on Nigeria.

"Crops are failing, people are going hungry and lives are being lost," Efik noted, while also pointing out that rainfall variability is increasing sea level is rising with consequences of coastal floods and erosion displacing people and claiming a huge proportion of the country's landmass in the South.

"Desertification is fast encroaching at 600m per year with sand invasion closing up communities and effacing our nation's boundaries in the North; forests, accounting for about 2.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product undergo deforestation at the rate of 3.5 per cent yearly just as water bodies, biodiversity and other ecosystems are adversely changing, collapsing or polluted, with attendant legion of killer diseases, such as malaria, in the increase," he stated.

This, in a way echoes IPCC's prediction that with temperature rise of 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius, there will be serious effects of reduced crop yields in tropical areas leading to increased risk of hunger, spread of climate-sensitive diseases such as malaria, dengue; as well as water stress, with Africa being the worst hit.

The body also predicted that this would lead to increased risk of floods, drought and water scarcity for millions of people in countries like Nigeria, which have been identified as particularly vulnerable. Additional consequences that may befall Nigeria and other vulnerable countries as predicted by IPCC include threat of tropical cyclones worldwide, complete submergence of small island States (like Lagos) and an increased risk of extinction of 20 - 30 per cent of all plant and animal species.

This is already happening in Nigeria as researches have shown that no fewer than 52 animal and plant species resident in the country are faced with extinction.

Efik noted that by 2050, global temperature rise is expected to reach 20C and Africa would then be witnessing 30C, which he said "would connote "arrested development" for the continent, and life may become "brutal, nasty and short".

"To say the least, the impacts of global climate change are not only physical and economic but also social and cultural, jeopardizing environmentally based livelihoods in many areas of the world," he added.

He said the existence of the 70 per cent of the poor in Nigeria is hazardous at a time the nation faces growing barriers to her efforts of achieving sustainable development and Millennium Development Goals.

According to him, "The situation has no doubt resulted in pockets of crises over resources and exodus of refugees seeking for habitation and alternative livelihoods."

He stated that this has interestingly generated serious concern among stakeholders, accelerating the exploration of options, strategies, blueprints, policy frameworks and actions for mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts.

"Interestingly, the level of awareness on climate change at the national level is worth commending, even though it is low at the States and Local Governments," he said.

He, however, noted that the Ministry of Environment and its Special Climate Change Unit that serves as Nigeria's Designated National Authority (DNA) on climate change, is yet to provide concrete development action such as the green growth blueprint also known as low-carbon economy as seen in many developing and emerging economies.

"It is expected that probably more climate-friendly development or green growth will be strongly entrenched as nexus for good governance in Nigeria when the on-going process of enacting National Climate Change Policy is completed," he added.

Consequently, he has asked that each State and Local Government should tweak their policy to accommodate green economy initiative as the cornerstone of their governance and means of delivering dividends of democracy, saying it could accelerate sustainable development and create new jobs, investments and industrial growth.

"Green economy initiative, currently known as the "Global Green New Deal" by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), it is characterized by increased investment in economic sectors that build on and enhancing the earth's natural capital or reduce ecological scarcities and environmental risks," Efik noted, adding that It has the potential to address both climate change mitigation and adaptation across eleven sectors of societal growth including Agriculture, Buildings, Cities, Energy, Fisheries, Forests, Manufacturing, Tourism, Transport, Waste, and Water.

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