February 2, 2022

Climate implications of Nigeria’s poor power supply

Source: BBC


Climate change has remained a complex puzzle for the world since industrial era; World Health Organization (WHO) identified it as the biggest threat to global health in the 21st century.

It is known that human activities are the main drivers of this change, basically as a result of burning of fossil fuels for energy, thereby emitting green house gases (mostly co2 and ch4).

Australian Academy of Science (2018) defines climate change as the long term change in weather pattern which causes several events such as melting of polar ice, rising sea level, and increasing intensity of natural disaster.

READ ALSO: COPs 26 was ‘carbon trade fair’, Nnimmo Bassey flays Glasgow climate talks

Climate change is real and no country is immune, not developed countries, not Nigeria. While most countries, especially developed nations have taken to the race to combat climate change, Nigeria, sad to say, is still limping at a distant behind.

More than we fail to realize, it has eaten deep into nature’s health and even nation’s economy. Changes in temperature, drop in total rainfall, crop failures, food shortages, drought and flooding that the country is facing can be traced to climate change.

According to Climate change knowledge portal, temperature increase of 0.03oc per decade were observed between 1901-2016, with stronger increase of 0.19oc per decade occurring over the last 30 years in Nigeria.

Also, the overall rainfall has decreased incrementally across the country since 1960.

Nigeria may not be able to totally transit to renewable, clean energy/ zero emission (including use of electric and hydrogen vehicles) in the shortest possible time, but they can leverage on available resources  to provide reliable power supply to mitigate climate change.

Access to reliable electricity is non-negotiable as most of human activities in this era rely on it. But that could not be said in some parts of Nigeria which experience little or no electricity. In the past, the power sector has been facing challenges of delivering sufficient power to residents, but has grown worst since its privatization in 2013 by the Nigerian government.

Nigerian residents in their bid to meet their home and business needs are forced to rely on alternative forms of energy which most times are unclean, accelerating the amount of green house gases discharged to the atmosphere.

Only a few can afford clean and renewable energy such solar inverters. Hence, almost every home and businesses have a power generators which uses fuel. In fact, according to NNPC, petrol supply in Nigeria hit a high of 72.3 million litres per day in May 2021.

In 2015, Nigeria was the world’s 17th biggest emitter of green house gases and the second highest in Africa. According to Data by Potsdam Institute for climate impact research, it recorded an annual green gas emission of 506m tones co2 in 2015 and according to International Energy Agency (IEA) has increased by 16% since 2015.

Lack of electricity and continuous surge in the price of cooking gas has driven Nigerians to rely on wood and charcoal as a cheap source of fuel for cooking. A practice which is not only harmful to health and environment but also encourages deforestation – key driver of global warming.

Much of Nigeria’s tropical forest has been destroyed; Nigeria lost 55.7% of its primary forest between 2000 and 2005, giving it the highest deforestation rate in the world over that period – says Carbon Brief Profile. Though in May 2016, Nigeria banned charcoal production due to violation of the “cut-one-plant-two” policy, but it seemed ineffective due to poor power supply and strong reliance on charcoal as a cheap source fuel.

Aside climate and environmental concerns, the peace and overall well being of Nigerian residents has been grossly compromised due to lack of power.

After stressful work and commutes, Nigerian residents still come back to uncomfortable and deafening noise of generators, especially those living in shared apartments.  Even income is largely affected as a huge fraction of it is spent on generator purchase, fueling, servicing and maintenance in the light of this predicament.

Worst is death; Nigeria recorded over 10,000 deaths through generator fumes between 2008 and 2014 according to a post by Vanguard News, making the country less habitable.

Sufficient power supply can reduce green house emissions (Co2 and CH4 majorly) by 40% leaving transport and production industries as the major source of emissions.

Nigeria has enough resources (sunlight, tidal, wind etc) to generate electricity; hence urgent need for the government to diversify the power sector, revise policies and invite private investors to help make power accessible and reliable to residents.

Orakwe wrote in from Delta

Vanguard News