Poverty will worsen climate change in Nigeria — Expert

The Head, Impact and Sustainability, Verod Capital Management, Chigozie Ejimogu, has said that poverty is the leading cause of climate change in Nigeria and if left unattended to, will worsen its effects.

Ejimogu, who was a panelist at a private sector meeting with the Red Cross, organised by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in collaboration with the Nigerian Red Cross Society, said a hungry man could not plant a tree.

The meeting which themed, ‘Moving Beyond Green: A Dialogue on Accelerated Climate Change Action’ and was held in Lagos, on Wednesday, was set up to explore more ways the private sector could get involved in seeking innovative ways to ensure sustainability in society. 

Ejimogu citing an example said, “If a woman and her children are hungry and she does not have access to gas or electricity to cook, the next action will be to cut a tree outside and use as firewood because she cannot watch her children go hungry in the name of saving a tree.

“Or will you tell the commercial bus drivers, tricycle and motorcycle riders in the country to park their buses and bikes because of carbon emission without providing alternative means of income for them? It cannot work that way. 

“Anybody that wants to tell you the truth about climate risk mitigation and not talk about poverty is being economical with the truth. You cannot combat climate risk without addressing the question of poverty, because poverty is the root of whatever we have today.

“So, therefore, until we can solve the problem of poverty in this part of the world, it would be very hard for the ordinary Nigerians especially the poor, to accept this message of climate change.”

Ejimogu said that at international levels as well, economic considerations in developing countries had remained a topic of concern as well as a topic of debate in achieving sustainability.

He said, “In the United Nations Conference for the Environment, one of the thing that was identified as a major conflict to achieving sustainability is economic consideration. The reason is that the environment is where we live, therefore whatever economic pursuit an individual is pursuing is usually at the expense of the environment.

“Profitability itself drives greed. Whether as a nation, a business or an individual, once the opportunity comes to exploit nature to turn into products that would bring money, there is always the propensity to do all it takes to pursue that agenda, even though he or she knows it has climate implications.

“Economic considerations always come as a priority in environmental discussions and it is a valid argument. The argument today between the developed and the developing world is that the developed countries have prospered at the expense of the environment and now the developing countries want to take same part and the developed world is saying they should slow down. That is the argument around just transitions and new energy alternatives.

“People naturally want to flow towards economic prosperity and because of this the message of climate change and its effects will progress very slowly here.”

The PUNCH had earlier reported that the IFRC had advocated technology adoption in combating climate change and its effects, stating that the government needed to be more proactive instead of reactive in addressing natural disasters, in order to save lives and properties. 

Present at the programme were notable stakeholders including; Secretary General, NCRS, Abubakar Kende; Director, Partnership and Communications, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Somachi Chris-Asoluka; Head Of Delegation, IFRC, Abuja Country Cluster Delegation, Mr. Bhupinder Tomar; General Manager, Abbey Mortgage Bank, Lolita Ejiofor; President, She Farmers Initiative, Temitope Ande; Head, Impact and Sustainability, Verod Capital Management, Chigozie Ejimogu.

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