Nigeria: The 2021 Climate Year in Review

Nigeria: The 2021 Climate Year in Review


  • Significant Flooding Throughout the Country
  • Nigerian-Russian Agreement to Build Two New Power Plants
  • Government Signs Into Law a Sweeping New Climate Bill
  • Including a Carbon Budget
  • Continued Lag in Implementation of Climate Policies and Plans


2021 has been an eventful year of climate action and inaction for Nigeria. Following up the government’s decision in 2020 to remove fuel subsidies, which saved the country about $2 billion a year and decreased emissions, many were hoping that 2021 would lead to more government action. However, this has not been completely the case.

As mentioned in previous posts, many of the plans outlined in the same report that announced the removal of fuel subsidies in 2020, have seen little to no action. Nigerians need to start seeing consistent action against climate change from their government or else people will continue to experience climate disasters like the record breaking floods that happened this year. Not all is bleak though as some action towards carbon neutrality has been made with re-opening talks over two new nuclear power plants and the hopes of implementing an annual carbon budget.

2021 saw many climate disasters across the globe and Nigeria was not immune to it. Nigeria saw a substantial amount of flooding throughout the country, as it has been stated that 26 of the 37 states are at high risk of flooding. Some of its worst flooding to date were in the states of Niger, Jigawa, Bauchi, Adamawa, and Katsina where there was over 100 millimeters of rain in just one day, which has not happened in over 100 years. Flooding in Nigeria leaves hundreds of thousands affected and has an annual estimated cost of $4 billion to the country. It is clear that flooding is in Nigeria for the long term, and the government needs to implement measures to mitigate its impact.

One way to do this, is to work to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. In 2021, the Russian-Nigerian Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on National Atomic Energy announced that they were re-opening their plan to implement the African continent’s second and third Nuclear Power Plants. Way back in 2009, the plan was to have the power plants fully functioning by the year 2020, but as things tend to do in the clean energy space, the projects got sidetracked. On July 15, 2021, the two countries reached an agreement for two power plants: the Geregu nuclear power plant (central Nigeria) and the Itu nuclear power plant (southern Nigeria). Both power plants are expected to be twin reactors that will each cost around $10 billion. As expected, Russia will be paying for the majority of the project. Only time will tell if the projects move forward, but these power plants will go a long way in fixing Nigeria’s energy shortage issue in a relatively sustainable way.

The last big climate event/announcement from Nigeria occurred during COP26. At the summit, “…President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law a climate bill committing his government to produce a sweeping plan to reduce emissions, adapt to climate change and set annual and five-year carbon budgets” (Climate Change News). This makes Nigeria the first ever large developing country to commit to carbon budgets. It has been labeled by climate scientists as a tremendous first step in the right direction, but the same people are hesitant as the government is well-known for climate inaction. Only time will tell if the government follows through with its short-term budgeting.

In the same announcement, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that Nigeria would not be able to make the net zero target of 2050 that many other countries had agreed to. Buhari said that Nigeria would be able to reach this target by 2060 instead, with the help of outside financing. While targets and goals are helpful guidance for governments, in the case of Nigeria, they must start taking steps in the right direction to reach these goals.

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This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Nigeria Country Manager Peter Hansen


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