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Tinubu will struggle to deliver if climate change is not prioritised, says professor

Tinubu will struggle to deliver if climate change is not prioritised, says professor
June 09
16:52 2023

Chukwumerije Okereke, a professor and director of climate change and development at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi, says President Bola Tinubu‘s administration must prioritise climate change.

Okereke said the new administration has laudable goals but seems to have relegated climate change to the background.

He said climate change poses one of the greatest economic, physical, financial, and development risks to Nigeria.

Making reference to Tinubu’s inaugural speech, Okereke said the president listed several priority areas — but omitted climate change.


“Most of the things highlighted by the president were, in many respects, extremely laudable goals that should be pursued,” Okereke said on Thursday while speaking with journalists in Lagos.

“For example, according to the most recent reports from the World Bank and other international organizations, Nigeria has the highest unemployment rate, so it is right that a focus on job creation should be a priority for the new administration.

“However, the speech of the president has one very big and glaring omission. This significant omission is the president’s failure to identify combating climate change as one of his top priorities.


“This is a very important omission because climate change poses one of the greatest economic, physical, financial, and development risks to Nigeria.

“It has been calculated that climate change as of today is costing Nigeria up to $100 billion. This represents about N15 trillion and close to 20 percent of Nigeria’s GDP.

“Calculations show that by 2050, climate change could cost Nigeria about N460 billion. This is in the region of about N69 trillion and this could be between six to 30 percent of Nigeria’s GDP.

“Climate change is already causing drought and loss of crop yield in Nigeria. In some cases, up to 50 per cent of crop yield loss is expected by 2050.


“So it is easy to see that without a concerted effort to tackle climate change, the new president will struggle to fulfil his goal to fight hunger and poverty in the country.”


Okereke added that the economy will suffer if climate change is ignored because the recurring annual flooding causes the nation great losses.

“Just recently, we’ve seen the number of deaths and displacements that have been caused by unprecedented flooding which had affected nearly 30 of 36 states of the country. Up till today, clear estimates have not been provided by the government on these losses,” he said.


“But we do know from the government’s own figures that the direct estimate of damage and loss caused by the 2012 flood is about $16.9 billion, which is about N2.63 trillion naira.

“Up to nearly 4000 kilometres square in the coastal regions of Nigeria will be inundated by a minimum rise of sea level due to climate change. An estimated 53 million people in the country may need to be relocated if the sea level rises to 0.5 metres.


“Places like Bonny, Forcardos, Lagos, and Port Harcourt will be at risk with vast amounts of property and oil infrastructure at risk.”

Okereke said climate change can offer Nigeria great opportunities, adding that the country has abundant natural resources like wind, solar, geothermal, and other critical minerals that would fuel the global transition in the coming decades.


“International climate finance is now worth over $3 trillion. So by positioning Nigeria effectively to tackle climate change, the president can unlock billions of international climate finance and help to address the perennial challenge of lack of energy access,” he said.

“This represents one of the biggest constraints against economic growth in the country.


“If climate change is properly understood and tackled, it can offer Nigeria enormous opportunity to unleash the green growth transition potential that it has to create jobs security and help in the fight against terror.”

This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.


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