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by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM

impacts of climate change

A series of articles by Bund/Friends of the Earth Germany - 1st published in Frankfurter Rundschau

Climate Change in Africa

cc_africa_1.jpg Climate change is already affecting many places and communities in Africa. The continent is experiencing more droughts in already dry areas and increased rainfall and flooding in areas that are usually wetter.

The impacts of climate change in Nigeria serve as an example of what will happen in many other parts Africa. From mangroves and rainforests on the Atlantic coast in the south to the savannah in the north bordering the Sahara, Nigeria has a variety of ecosystems. While excessive flooding during the past decade has impacted negatively on farming in coastal communities, desertification is ravaging the Sahel.

Traditionally, desertification in the Sahel has been blamed on overgrazing practices of the local population. But it has been discovered that the real problem is climate change. Rainfall in the Sahel has been declining steadily since the 1960s. The result has been the loss of farmlands and the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen over ever decreasing land. This loss of land is considered the root of the conflict in Dafur in Sudan.

Many different communities, including fishermen, farmers and herdsmen are now confronted with difficulties arising from climatic changes. Peoples' livelihoods are being harmed, and already poor people are becoming even more impoverished. Climate refugees are being created, as climate change makes some land unliveable and impacts water supplies.


Oil and Gas in Nigeria

cc_africa_2.jpg While Nigeria is not a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions when compared with industrialized countries, it is a major supplier of oil and gas to countries with high greenhouse gas emissions. The exploitation of gas and oil for export from the Niger Delta both contributes to global warming and it also destroys the environment and harms communities living near these projects.

Oil fields in the Niger Delta of Nigeria contain crude oil mixed with very large amounts of gas. Major oil companies operating in Nigeria separate the oil from its associated gas at flow stations, where the gas is simply burned off, serving no useful purpose and contaminating the air and lands for local communities.

cc_africa_3.jpg For the communities, the effects of gas flaring has been dramatic: continuous noise, rise in temperature in communities close to flare sites, acid rain and retarded crop yield, corroded roofs, respiratory diseases. And the loss of darkness as with the unnatural illumination from gas flares at night. Gas flared in Nigeria, containing high amounts of methane and carbon dioxide-major greenhouse gasses, is also a major contributor to global warming, as it produces emissions that is more than the combined emissions of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

These oil and gas projects do not provide energy to the people who live in the region. They only pollute their air and lands from the gas flaring by Shell and other major transnational corporations.

False Solutions to Climate Change

Climate change should be addressed by reducing emissions and adopting better and appropriate energy technologies. But market mechanisms that are designed to reduce carbon emissions can encourage or subsidize corporate abuses. Under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) framework of the Kyoto Protocol, oil companies in Nigeria could be given carbon credits to stop gas flaring, rewarding companies for stopping an illegal process.


The Nigerian courts have declared gas flaring illegal and a gross violation of human rights, and oil companies and the government have already made commitments to end the criminal practice by 2008. Gas flaring reduction projects in Nigeria cannot and should not qualify for CDM credits as such projects fail on the additionality and sustainable development criteria.

The only reason why gas is flared in Nigeria is because the Nigerian government fails to abide by its own laws while the companies continue the practice to make excess profits. Oil companies in Nigeria can end gas flaring profitably without CDM credits. Gas flaring projects can only be suggested for CDM for the benefit of carbon market profiteers. This is a sad commentary for the CDM as a mechanism for global greenhouse gas reduction.


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