After India, it’s Nigeria that has the most people at risk of relentless heat

By Laureen Fagan - 26 May 2023 at 10:45 pm
After India, it’s Nigeria that has the most people at risk of relentless heat

New research on climate change demonstrates that a large swath of the African continent would become dangerously hot with a projected 2.7°C global temperature rise, including more than 300 million people in Nigeria—the most vulnerable nation, after India, if efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C fail.

Sudan, Niger and Burkina Faso fall into the list of Top 10 nations with exposed populations if temperatures range beyond what the international research team, led by Dr. Timothy Lenton at the University of Exeter, identify as the “human climate niche” in which people and communities can thrive. Their work was published this week in the journal Nature Sustainability.

The future populations of Mali, Ghana, Benin and Chad aren’t far behind. In terms of the percentage of affected land mass—the geography rather than population—it’s Burkina Faso and Mali who have the greatest exposure in the world. Benin, Gambia, Niger, Senegal, Mauritania and Djibouti also fall within the Top 15 affected nations.

Lenton says that for every 0.1°C of warming above present levels, about 140 million more people will be exposed to dangerous heat, many of them in the least developed countries.

“What is the human cost of climate change and who bears it? Existing estimates tend to be expressed in monetary terms, tend to recognize impacts on the rich more than those on the poor (because the rich have more money to lose) and tend to value those living now over those living in the future (because future damages are subject to economic discounting),” the authors said.

“From an equity standpoint, this is unethical—when life or health are at stake, all people should be considered equal, whether rich or poor, alive or yet to be born.”

Laureen Fagan

Laureen Fagan

Laureen is the editor of Africa Times

Laureen is a freelance journalist creating high-quality, informed content on international affairs, politics and technology. She has worked both in and out of newsrooms since 2000. She is a former paramedic with significant experience in community resilience and nonprofit community development initiatives, and maintains "a passion for action" on sustainability and climate change. She also is trained in conflict resolution and diversity, and has special interests in science and medical reporting, and culture and religion issues. Laureen received her MSJ from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in the United States, and completed additional graduate study in theology at University of Notre Dame. Follow Laureen on Mastodon at

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