Keep Warming to 1.5 Degrees

Promise Salawu from Renew Our World Nigeria talks about how the climate crisis is causing problems for Nigeria.


'Promise Salawu from Renew Our World Nigeria'


It is no longer news that the world is rapidly warming due to increasing carbon emissions from human activities. An interesting aspect of the global atmosphere is its interconnectedness. We are all impacted by it. The effects of human activities such as industry, energy, waste and agriculture have proven to have a devastating impact on the world’s atmosphere. Therefore what happens in the Global North has devastating consequences on the Global South. We all have one atmosphere globally and hence the need to seriously consider the issues of climate change and global warming. 

As global temperatures rise, droughts, floods, fires and storms are becoming more frequent and extreme. 

The arid zones in Nigeria are getting worse with droughts and climate uncertainty growing rapidly. Desert and semi-desert areas in northern Nigeria are becoming drier, while the southern part of the country is getting wetter. Of course, global warming means that many dry areas are going to get drier and wet areas are going to get wetter. Millions of people yearly rely on rains for their farms but this has become less reliable hence creating food insecurity and poverty particularly amongst farmers. 

Climate change affects us all - but it is hitting people living in poverty first and hardest. This is an issue of justice; as the poorest, 3.5 billion people are only responsible for just ten percent of emissions and yet they already face the most devastating impacts of the climate crisis. The reality is that the more the earth warms up the more devastating effect we will see on the poorest and vulnerable globally. The gap is now widened and it becomes more difficult to alleviate poverty, increasing inequality.

The attendant impact of climate change due to global warming on the public health of Nigeria’s farming communities (over 70% of the population) was reported as follows:

  • Respiratory diseases due to increases in the level of pollutants.
  • Respiratory diseases due to increases in the level of the population (70% annually).
  • Skin ailments (45% annually).
  • Heatstroke (4% annually).
  • Loss of productivity (40% annually).
  • Portable water shortages (60% annually) due to floods and/or saltwater intrusion.

Health risks such as cerebral-spinal meningitis, the cardiovascular respiratory disorders of the elderly, skin cancer, malaria, high blood pressure and morbidity were identified as the direct consequences of climate change. 

Cerebral-spinal meningitis is one of the infectious diseases likely to be caused by climate change. Incidences of meningitis, for instance, have been on the rise in Nigeria due to excessive heat. According to Akingbade, cases of meningitis have been reported to have increased in Nigeria as a result of excessive heat. The World Health Organization has revealed that 35% of reported meningitis outbreaks in Africa between 1996 and 2010 are from Nigeria, with statistics showing 95% of this disease happening in the northern region of Nigeria.

There have been regional migrations from parched regions to areas of better vegetation. The greater levels of livestock farmers have raised the pressure on the already existing natural resources within those regions. In fact, conflict has broken out between communities as they compete for water and land.

The southern parts of Nigeria and some parts of the southwest of Nigeria are riverine coastal regions. These areas have suffered damage to property and lives as a result of heavy rains and flooding. This region has also experienced a community boundary shift because of an increase in sea levels; several meters into their communities have gone underwater. This has affected many locals, their businesses and properties.

'Renew Our World Nigeria completing some eco-work in Jos'


Can the Warming Be kept within 1.5 degrees?

Yes absolutely, the human activities responsible for the temperatures if reduced and stopped will keep the warming within 1.5 degrees. This is the reason for the great ambitions of countries; we must ensure we do all we can to save ourselves and our children from having to deal with the consequences of our inaction/ lack of commitment to keep the warming within 1.5 degrees.

To limit warming to the safer level of 1.5°C, we need to phase out the use of fossil fuels and reduce our carbon emissions to zero as fast as possible - from transport, aviation, power, industry and food production. This needs to happen much faster: starting now, we need to cut emissions by between 8 and 15 per cent every year. We need to reach net-zero by 2050 (net zero means reducing any greenhouse gas emissions produced by industry, transport or other sources by as much as possible and then absorbing what’s left, for example through forests). 

We must do all we can to keep warming at 1.5 degrees to avoid a catastrophic crisis in the world, and like a wise man, Oscar Wilde said “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”.