- Nigeria expected to have 9.4 million climate migrants by 2050
- Actions of transnational companies, e.g., oil spills, gas flaring, on vulnerable local communities, e.g., the Ogoni
- Niger delta has been averaging 1,000 oil spills a year
- In 2020 floods affected more than 2 million people, primarily poor rural farmers
Nigeria’s Lack of Climate Justice Primarily Impacts Indigenous Groups
Nigeria’s climate outlook over the coming decades is a bleak one, mainly due to the governments lack of action. Sadly, the communities that will face the bulk of the climate consequences will be ones hovering around the poverty line. Nigeria is expected to have 9.4 million internal climate migrants by 2050, which will be the second highest number in the entire continent. Climate migrants, a relatively new term, refers to individuals who are forced to move due to climate induced events. This can range from extreme weather events like floods or gradual, long-term changes like droughts that lead to not cultivatable land. Nigeria also has to deal with oil spills from international corporations, where local communities have to face the consequences.
In fact, a real issue in Nigeria with climate justice is the impact of transnational oil companies on local communities. These impacts include persistent gas flaring, frequent oil spills, impact on drinking water and rural livelihoods, and human rights violations. As for gas flaring (supposedly illegal), it exerts “significant environmental stress on Ogoniland,” which is land inhabited by the Indigenous Ogoni people (Friends of the Earth). The gas flaring in the region released 45.8 billion kw of heat into the atmosphere, which cost $518.33 million. Of course, the Ogoni people are faced with the consequences without seeing any of the money. In addition to gas flaring, oil companies are responsible for frequent oil spills. Specifically in the Niger delta, where there are over 1,000 oil spills per year cause by these companies. Apart from absolutely destroying the surrounding environment, the spills have made it inhospitable for humans as the local drinking water contains 900 times more benzene than what it recommended by the WHO. These companies have also engaged in human rights violations, where since 1995, over 5,000 Ogonis have been murdered.
In addition to the climate justice issues instigated by transnational oil companies, floods are becoming a huge climate justice issue. In 2020, floods affected over 2 million lives, primarily poor, rural farmers. The floods paralyzed economic activity in these regions at an estimated cost of $4 billion.
The Nigerian government has been eerily quiet on the climate justice front. They have not put in place any substantial laws that help the most vulnerable who are affected by climate change. In fact, the goal of ending gas flaring in the country was originally 2020, but the date has now been pushed back to 2030. Of course, to the detriment of the Ogoni people. While the government could be investing in policies and practices that confront climate justice issues, they have decided to spend an estimated $6 billion to build Eko Atlantic City. This man-made city off the coast of Lagos is supposed to be the greenest city in Nigeria and will house over 250,000. However, it is extremely costly, and does not provide for the number of Nigerians who need the funding the most. The city is actually eroding the coastline of Lagos, further harming vulnerable individuals.
The Nigerian government must shift their focus from wasteful projects like Eko Atlantic City and move it towards the people who need the most. A good start would be supporting the Ogoni people and stopping gas flaring.
The Environmental Rights Action: Friends of Nigeria organization is doing great work for climate justice, specifically against the work of transnational oil companies. To get in touch with them, please send them an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Nigeria Country Manager Peter Hansen