That climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity today is no longer in doubt. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world must cut its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent global warming of 1.5°C, or likely more, above pre-industrial levels.
In its 2019 seasonal rainfall prediction, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has said that this year will be another hot year. It is important to note that 2018 was hotter than the preceding year; the trend is clear for all to see. The mean annual variability and trend of rainfall over Nigeria in the last six decades depicts several inter-annual fluctuations that have been responsible for dry and wet years or extreme climate events such as droughts and floods in many parts of the country.
NiMet has also predicted that as a result of these climatic conditions, incidences of malaria and other diseases will be higher in areas with temperatures ranging between 18-32C and with humidity above 60 percent.
More worrisome is the increasing knowledge that the country will be subject to consistent changes in rainfall and temperatures in the not-so-distant future. Hotter and drier conditions would likely exacerbate floods, droughts and heat waves and hamper agricultural production, particularly rain-fed agriculture, which many Nigerians rely on for their livelihoods. Agriculture accounts for around 23 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Unless we act, these trends are likely to jeopardize hard-won progress. Already climate-induced conflicts are exacerbating fragile security situations, with flashpoints mainly in the middle belt of the country. Climate change, therefore, poses a significant threat to Nigeria’s development ambitions of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and could stunt and even reverse the progress that’s already been made.
The world is in a race to limit climate change and find workable, practical, and cost-efficient solutions to this emergency that is redefining global partnerships in a way not seen before. This is a race we, as humanity, can win. But for this to happen, unprecedented leadership, sacrifices, concessions from all nations big and small are needed. Nigeria has ratified the 2915 Paris Agreement. This is commendable considering it is one of the top six greenhouse gas emitters in Africa.
The country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) made under the Paris Agreement embodies the it’s efforts to reduce national emissions and to adapt to the effects of climate change. If fully implemented, these efforts will pave way for a low carbon economy and result in about 50 percent reduction in emissions. At the same time, the economy will grow at an average annual rate of five percent by 2030. This represents an important milestone in tackling the challenges of climate change.
Recently, UNDP launched the NDC Global Outlook Report: “The Heat Is On”: Taking Stock of Global Climate Ambition and the UNDP Climate Promise to help 100 countries to step up their NDCs. The report offers a comprehensive review of how nations are stepping up climate action and how they are linking these policies to the SDGs. According to the report, nearly half of the world, 75 nations representing 37 percent of emissions, are deeply committed to doing the right thing, right now. President Mohammadu Buhari’s plan for tackling climate change as laid out at the UNGA at Climate Change Summit is timely, ambitious and essential. It would foster a low-carbon, high growth economic development path and build a climate resilient Nigeria.
The president’s seven-point plan reiterates commitment to concrete actions towards the Paris Agreement goals. The imperativeness of the president’s speech in front of the whole world leaves Nigeria with no other option than to lead the way.
UNDP is committed to supporting Nigeria on this course. The UNDP-NDC Support Programme is already fully operational, with the clear target of increased engagement with government and the private sector. In the important years ahead, three pillars: ambition, acceleration and mobilization will guide and shape our support.
At UNDP, we will remain steadfast and accompany the government and people of this great country on this path.
By Mohamed Yahya (Resident Representative, UNDP Nigeria)