Climate Change Advocacy In Nigeria; Assessing The Nigerian Response To Climate Change In The Light Of Existing International Obligations -By Oyetola Muyiwa Atoyebi & Bibiana Adeniji

Nigeria has been adversely affected by climate change with recent recordings of floods, erosion, landslides and sand storms. The vulnerability of the environment further exposes it to a greater disadvantage, as it is poorly protected. Considering that climate change and environmental degradation is majorly man made, climate control is the duty of every individual.


It is no longer news that climate change has and continues to pose a serious threat to the Nigerian environment with various evidential impacts. This economic and socio-economic threat affects not just Nigeria, but the world. The effect of climate change is not limited to the physical impacts that can be seen and immediately felt. The existence of other dangers posed by climate change in Nigeria though not immediately apparent, are just as worrisome. The impact on the environment has increased exponentially over the years, with various degrees on environmental degradation.

This article will be examining the impact of Climate Change on the Nigerian environmental and socio-economic system as well as the evolvement of Climate Change advocacy in the nation. It will further x-ray the Nigerian legal and institutional responses to Climate Change viz-a-viz the international obligations to which it has acceded.


Due to the strain on the environment from various factors such as the population, geographic layout and economic activities, climate change meets Nigeria at a very vulnerable state, making the impact highly felt by the nation. Ironically, more developed countries that contribute to Climate Change across the globe are better equipped to manage the impact, albeit a mere coping mechanism. The OECD 2018 report supported this assertion by stating that less developed countries in continents such as Africa and Asia are hit with the effects of Climate change more than their developed contemporaries.

The impact on the economic and socio-economic environment can be broadly discussed as follows:

Economic effects

The industry most affected by the effect of climate change in Nigeria is the Agricultural Sector. Being a country largely dependent on Agriculture with majority of its population engaged in Agriculture, little wonder that the sector suffers grossly from climate change. The bedrock of the sector is premise on favourable climate and accurate or near accurate climate predictions. Climate change has however affected the regular seasonal cycles with heavier and inconsistent rainfall in some places and lesser in other regions, flooding, harsh sunlight amongst a host of other. Considering that Nigeria’s agricultural sector is highly dependent on seasons, this has led to the loss of countless plantations, unwillingness of farmers to plant for fear of uncertainty and abysmal harvest.

The direct effect of this on the economy is a reduction in the productivity of the sector, loss of livelihood by farmers and herders, and the most apparent, food insecurity. Food is scarcely available and more expensive compared to recent times, contributing to a further reduction of the standard of living of the average Nigerian.

It is also worthy of note that industries and businesses located in riverine areas, more particularly referred to as coastal regions, have been unable to conduct business as usual as roads are flooded and plants and machineries are equally affected. This in itself has impacted revenue.

Environmental Effects

The environmental effect of climate change in Nigeria is quite dynamic and varies depending on the region. With states in the Northern region being desert prone and those in the South being coastal, the North continues to be threatened with drought and desertification characterised by unusually hot weather conditions, scarcity of water and sparing agricultural produce. The coastal regions are plagued with flooding due to consistent rise in the sea level. The increase of rainfall in certain areas and threats of desertification in others further make the nation more vulnerable to future effects of climate change.

In 2015, over 100,o00 persons were displaced with 53 recorded dead from flooding. The 2018 flooding adversely affected Niger, Kogi, Anambra and Delta states. Where a national state of emergency was declared with over 8.2 million dollars spent[1]. The 2022 flood however destroyed more properties, with over 1.4 million displaced, 603 killed, and 82,035 houses damaged as reported by the Federal Government. The government had blamed it on rain and climate change. However, reports have shown that the release of the Lagdo dam was responsible for most of the flooding but was further aggravated by high sea levels and poor waste management.

Effect on Energy and Power

In Nigeria, the mode of power generation is hydro-power run by dams and turbines. Due to climate change, there has been a noticeable decrease in the consistency of the supply of power due to the destruction of certain hydro equipments and the inconsistency of the water level and water pressure.


In 1992, Nigeria took part in the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and has since been part of all international climate agreements. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1992, is the principal international law on climate change and Nigeria is a party to same. Nigeria is also a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty aimed at preventing human interference with the climate. It is aimed at stabilising greenhouse gas in the environment that would stop interference with the climate by humans.

The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement was an extension of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to curb the emission of CO2 and reduce global warming.

Despite these ratifications, it can be argued that Nigeria has gathered obligations without a sense of urgency or even responsibility. These conventions and treaties are beautifully drafted but without the necessary framework, effective implementation is near impossible. In light of this, we shall examine Nigerian response in light of these obligations.


Climate advocacy which is the public advocacy for environmental sustainability and preservation, is the most universal climate response. An examination of Nigeria’s climate advocacy however, leaves a lot to be desired. An organised approach is necessary for a country such as Nigeria in order to effectively reach the grassroots which contribute the most to climate change and are more prone to the effects of climate change. The objective of climate advocacy in Nigeria should be focused more on fortifying the more vulnerable communities and regions with methods peculiar to the nature of their vulnerability. Planning and effective crisis management is also an integral part of Nigeria’s Climate Advocacy.

Generally, there are two methods that can be employed in response to climate change, mitigation or adaptation. Mitigation is generally focused on reducing activities and elements that cause climate change. Adaptation, on the other hand, is a form of coping mechanism focused on managing the effects that already are. The effective response to climate change is one that is a mixture of mitigation and adaptation.

The Nigerian government has set measures in place to adapt to the effect of climate change in the nation and to prevent an aggravation of activities responsible for climate change.

In 2021, the Nigerian government enacted the Climate Change Act. The Act is the first comprehensive standalone law on climate change in West Africa. It adopted most of the provisions of previous policies. The Act provides for carbon budgeting and climate change actions. The Act established the National Council on Climate Change to be headed by the President of Nigeria.

The Act is to promote policies and programmes to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation. It is also to ensure that these policies are integrated with similar policies for development and environmental safety. It promotes the mobilization of resources for climate change programs. The Act has also provided structured support to Climate litigation clime in Nigeria, ensuring that claims are actionable against the relevant Agencies for failure to fulfil statutory and administrative obligations, down to individuals who disregard the environment and contribute to its degradation.

The  Act provides that its objectives include: ensuring that Nigeria formulates programmes for achieving its long-term goals on climate change mitigation and adaptation; facilitating the coordination of climate change action needed to achieve long-term climate objectives; mainstreaming climate change actions in line with national development priorities; facilitating the mobilisation of finance, and other resources necessary to ensure effective action on climate change; ensuring that climate change policies and actions are integrated with other related policies for promoting socio-economic development and environmental integrity; setting a target for the year 2050 – 2070 for the attainment of a net-zero GHG emission, in line with Nigeria’s international climate change obligations; (g) identifying risks and vulnerabilities, building resilience and strengthening existing adaptive capacities to the impacts of climate change[2].

The Court with competent Jurisdiction by the provisions of the Act is the High Court, the State and Federal High Courts. The Act vests on the High Court, the power to make orders for the discontinuance of harmful actions, compelling of public officers to perform their duties and even award to victims adversely affected. Bearing in mind that climate and environmental responsibilities and rights are not expressed to be justifiable by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is noteworthy that The Act, domestic legislation covers some of these lapses. The Act covers Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, imposing compliance obligations on them[3].

The National Council for Climate Change, an agency established by the Act is empowered to make policies on issues relating to climate change arising from the Act. The Council is a body Corporate with a seal and enjoys perpetual succession[4]. Its powers extend to coordination and monitoring sectors and programmes, approving and formulating policies, overseeing of the Climate Change Fund, disseminating information on climate change and even advising on climate agreements[5].

The Act also introduced the Climate Change Fund to be administered by the Council which shall be a fund inclusive of an amount appropriated by the National Assembly, donations and charges from the services rendered by the council, funding from international organisations and taxes from emission trading. It is meant to fund the council and be used for other climate change policies subject to the council’s approval.

The Nigerian government’s approach heavily leans towards adaptation with little focus on mitigation and this is quite worrisome. In furtherance of the adaptation approach in Nigeria, certain policies have been implemented, though largely internationally funded. The Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project by the World Bank and the Ministry of Environment were implemented to reduce gully erosion in coastal areas and adaptive livelihood techniques. It focused on warning systems and flood early warning systems and disaster risk prevention in over 23 states in Nigeria. The project also covers solid waste management to minimise flooding in coastal region states. 

The Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change Project was initiated in 2007. The project is focused on food security, alternate means of fuel and access to water. The Canadian International Development Agency funded the project with 49 million Euros.

Another project is the 2021 NEWMAP launched with $700 million to address community climate resilience and provide a framework for effective management and financing of climate control policies.

The government still carries out certain mitigation steps, however. This includes reforestation, reformation of agricultural practices and reduction of emission of CO2. 


Nigeria has been adversely affected by climate change with recent recordings of floods, erosion, landslides and sand storms. The vulnerability of the environment further exposes it to a greater disadvantage, as it is poorly protected. Considering that climate change and environmental degradation is majorly man made, climate control is the duty of every individual.


The effect of climate change is not limited to the physical impacts that can be seen and immediately felt.


Climate, climate change, climate control, environment, environmental policies.