The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Ben Llewellyn-Jones, has disclosed that Nigeria is among the top 10 of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries, though contributing one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

He made this known at a Media Dialogue in commemoration of the International Day for Climate Action organised by the Deputy British High Commissioner in collaboration with Sterling One Foundation recently.

The theme of the Day was “The Transition to a Circular Economy- Partnerships to Solve Pressing Challenges.”

Llewellyn-Jones said that Coastal states face extensive risks from storm surges, with inland flooding and pollution prevalent in the Niger Delta region; gully erosion in the southeast, and chronic aridity and riverine flooding in the North.

He said that the middle-belt is at risk to aridity, compounded by high-tensions between farmers and pastoralists (land rights, water access).

He listed agriculture, water and the health sectors as key sectors impacted by climate change in Nigeria.

“70 per cent of the populations rely on climate-dependent resources. Just about 55 per cent of the 200m plus population have access to electricity.

“Fuel wood and charcoal are the major sources of energy for the rural population,” Llewellyn-Jones said.

He noted that the deforestation rate in the country was over 3.7 per cent per annum.

He said that from 2013 to 2020, 99 per cent of tree cover loss in Nigeria occurred within natural forest.

“Urbanisation rate is about 4.3 per cent per annum, with over 52 per cent of the population currently living in urban centres.

“With Nigeria’s population set to double to 400 million by 2050, without action to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change in Nigeria, there will be increased pressure on natural resources (resulting in conflicts) and emissions profile.

“As well as climate impacts such as flooding which in 2022 has impacted 31 of 36 states, affecting over 1.4m people, displacing 808,000, and leaving over 300 dead.

“The impact of climate change without action could cost between six per cent and 30 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP by 2050.

“COP26 which the UK hosted in Glasgow in November 2021 concluded with 197 Parties agreeing the Glasgow Climate Pact, reaching consensus on the need for urgent climate action,” Llewellyn-Jones said.

He said that the text of the Pact saw Parties address the issues important to African countries, including strengthening international cooperation on adaptation and loss and damage and urging developed countries to at least double adaptation finance by 2025.

“Our COP Presidency will end in November 2022. “Our objective in 2022 was to maintain the momentum that parties built at COP26, and use this to support success in other key fora – including the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity or CBD COP15 which will hold in December 2022 in Canada.

“We have been working closely with the incoming-Presidency of COP27, Egypt, to build a partnership that aligns priorities and plans, secures the legacy of the Glasgow Climate Pact and delivers impact and progress on the Paris Agreement goals in Sharm el-Sheikh at COP27,” Llewellyn-Jones said.

He said that the global context has changed but the goals are ever more urgent:

According to him, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown into stark relief the link between climate change, energy security and the vulnerability caused by our reliance on fossil fuels (and volatile markets).

He said that there was the need to urgently work together to accelerate the shift to clean power generation, including increased solar, wind deployment and greater energy efficiency, which are the most effective route to climate and energy security, and long-term prosperity.

“The media must also take up its responsibility as gatekeepers and the fourth estate of the realm to advocate for and educate every Nigerian on the importance of climate action,” Llewellyn-Jones said.

Also speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer(CEO), Sterling One Foundation, Mrs Olapeju Ibekwe, said that the recent flooding across some states in the country was a sad reminder of the devastating effects of climate change.

According to her, communities in eight Local Government Areas in Anambra were completely submerged by flood two weeks ago, causing huge economic and human losses.

“As we are gather in this room today, thousands of people are displaced and unimaginably distressed in Lokoja, Kogi states where homes, business investments have been lost,”

,” It is reported that 76 people died in Anambra trying to escape the flood,” Ibekwe said.

While reeling data from the National Emergency Management Agency ( NEMA), Ibekwe said that human loss to flooding in 2022 alone had been put at 500 deaths and I, 546 injuries.

According to the CEO, the media has a special role to play in reporting responses to the rising incidences of flooding, heatwave, water shortage, deforestation and other consequences of climate change.

Ibekwe said that the International Day for Climate Action was set aside to take stock of the progress achieved and to appraise the rest of the journey with a view to determining the most effective steps to achieve the global goal of cutting emissions and going green.

She said that the state of the Climate in Africa 2020 Report warned of the continent ‘s disproportionate vulnerability.

She said that the report estimated that by 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor Africans would be exposed to droughts, floods and extreme heat.

“The report estimates that the investment in climate adaptation for sub Saharan Africa would cost between 30 to 50 dollars each year over the next decade or roughly two to three per cent of GDP.

“Enough to spark job opportunities and economic development while prioritising a sustainabie and green recovery.

“There has never been a more urgent need to revive damaged ecosystems than now and we need urgent action to address these pressing issues.

“We must shift from harming the planet to healing it. “Unfortunately, in Nigeria, we still experience ignorance, apathy, carelessness, and lack of sustained commitment when it comes to issues around climate change,” Ibekwe said.

She said that the role of the media in communicating climate change and actions, effectively breaking down the implications and setting agenda was more critical now than ever.

Ibekwe said that time was running out and nature is in emergency mode

” To keep global warming below 1.5 degrees this century, we must halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

“Without action, exposure to air pollution beyond safe guidelines will increase by 50 per cent within the decade and plastic waste flowing into aquatic ecosystem will nearly tripple by 2040,” Ibekwe said.