Everyone and everything in Nigeria is now affected by climate change, a leading meteorological expert told MPs at the Nigerian Climate Parliament group’s meeting convened by its chair, the Rt Hon Sam Onuigbo.
MPs heard that Nigeria faced more days over 40oC, increasing flooding, and climate change threatened the loss of up to 15,000 km2 of land in the Niger Delta.
Looking at Africa as a whole, Dr Andre Kamga, Director General of the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) explained that the rate of warming rose from 2oC per century between 1961 and 1990 to above 3.5oC per century between 1991 and 2019. The impact of this warming is huge, he told MPs, resulting in more frequent and intense hot days, floods, droughts and storm surges.
More concerning than heat events, he believed, was the impact of heavy rain and flooding. 40% of the landmass of Africa had experienced heavy rains, while coastal areas were more prone to drought.
The changing climate is also increasing the ability of locusts to breed, so more surveillance of locusts is needed so that early action can be taken to prevent crop damage.
Dr Kamga pointed out that where climate impacts overlapped with development issues, there was a high likelihood of a disaster occurring, which is why everyone needs to work together to tackle climate change.
Prof Sani Abubakar Mashi, Director-General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency and member of the World Meteorological Organization’s Executive Council, agreed that climate change is already impacting livelihoods, health and wellbeing in Nigeria.
There is an increasing number of days with temperatures above 40oC, reduced rainfall in the north, increasing risks of drought and flooding and surface water bodies, like Lake Chad, are drying up.
In addition to crop damage and water stress and increasing incidences of climate-influenced infections, he noted the economic impact and stressed that climate change is a stimulus to political instability and conflict. Everyone and everything is now affected in Nigeria, he told the MPs.
Nick Dunlop, Secretary General of the Climate Parliament, thanked the presenters and welcomed guests from both houses of the Nigerian Parliament, UNIDO and the EU Delegation to Nigeria and pointed out that Climate Parliament’s work in Nigeria was only possible with the generous support of the European Commission.
He highlighted the critical role parliamentarians play tackling climate change. Legislators set budgets, make laws, and oversee government action. He cited the handful of German politicians who drafted a law to provide generous feed-in tariffs for renewable energy. This led to Germany installing solar panels at such a rate that the country had half of the world’s solar panels at one time. The demand these German MPs stimulated helped reduce the cost of solar panels which led to their competitiveness today.
Referring to the presentations, MPs agreed that the vulnerability of the north of Nigeria was not in doubt. Desertification and deforestation were moving southwards, and the floods of 2020 had jeopardised food security. Coastal erosion is another major concern among MPs.
One MP pointed out that they, as members of parliament, were also under pressure on environmental issues and suggested a partnership with Climate Parliament and international organisations to develop an action plan that set out some quick wins as well as actionable long-term plans would be useful. Climate Parliament agreed to follow up and help with this.
Nigerian legislators told the meeting that there was lots of effort in parliament on environmental issues and that they are working at a ‘ferocious pace’ on a Climate Change Bill.