Why Nigeria Must Switch To Zero Carbon Economy – Experts
As Nigeria continues to seek solutions to the dwindling revenue from the oil sector, environmentalists and experts have called for the change to a zero carbon economy.
According to Premium Times, the call was made at the 8th Annual National Environmental Congress in Port Harcourt, Rivers State held on Monday, November 9, 2015 and tagged ‘Extractives and Energy Transition: Roadmap for Zero-Carbon Development.’
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA.FoEN), Godwin Ojo said: ”We are drawing attention to the need for energy transition for Nigeria.
“We strongly believe that a global social change is in the making. That social change is the world is changing from fossil fuel moving towards renewable energy.
“We strongly believe that a zero carbon development is essential for Nigeria. So we are looking at a post-petroleum economy and how Nigeria can transform from fossil fuel dependency to renewable oil dependency,” he said.
“This is crucial because in 30-50 years from now, the impact of climate change will be monumental, even more catastrophic and there’s need for mitigation and adaptation to climate change issues. This is why there is urgency and need for this transition.”
The congress had begun with a one-minute silence dedicated to late Ogoni environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa who was hanged by the Sani Abacha-led military junta 20 years ago.
Also honoured at the event was, the late Special Adviser on Research and Strategy to former president Goodluck Jonathan, Oronto Douglas, who happens to be a founding members of ERA/FoEN.
Speaking further, Mr. Ojo said: “The struggle of the Ogonis and the legacy of Saro-Wiwa remains for all people involved in environmental justice struggles both as a signal of hope and victory, and as an emblem of resistance ever staged against multinational corporations on a global scale in both intensity and spread.
“Since 1993, Shell remained expelled from Ogoni with over 28,000 barrels of crude oil locked in. With the avoidance of potential carbon emissions into the atmosphere by the non-extraction, the Ogonis deserve fair and adequate compensation from the UN Green Climate Fund.”
Delivering the keynote address was a lecturer at tge University of Port Harcourt, Sofiri Joab-Peterside, who said that the Federal Government must create an enabling environment to support a low carbon development pathway.
He said: “This implies that it is not in the best interest of the nation to build fossil fuel power plants that will exacerbate the corruption associated with the Petro-State.
“The international financial institutions represented by the World Bank appear to have a strangle-hold on Nigeria’s energy acquisition bid.
“The Bank seems to be more interested in creating processes that ensure continuation of fossil utilization due in partn to the huge lobby power of the extractive industry and associated profit for oil deriving from the externalization of the environmental and social cost of oil.”
Also speaking was the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment, Iniruo Wills. He said: “The level of degradation in the Niger Delta region is such that we must, sometimes, breach even niceties in order to say it as it is.
“And the truth is that what is going on, at least the extent to which it is happening would not have been if our government institutions and if our regulatory institutions were strong enough to do their work.
“The truth is that at all levels of government, at all tiers of government, we don’t have strong regulatory and monitoring institutions.
“So sometimes when something happens, there is an oil spill, there’s a gas leakage, there’s a forest fire, we may get information and pictures from them even before we respond.
“There is obviously a lot more work still left to be done. Part of that work has to do with strategy and direction and focus. Perhaps, some of our efforts, some of our energies, we need to redirect them to even the quality and approach to engagements with governments to look at how we do our work.”
Wills also said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) also bears a share of the blame for the environmental pollution as does the oil companies.
“It is important to bring NNPC into the picture,” he said.
“It was interesting to see in the news, the last day or two, that NNPC has just announced a new target of about 3 million barrels of oil per day within the next one year or so.
“And it occurred to me, in setting these new targets of increasing oil production, how about setting a target, being the majority shareholder, for the next 12 months to ensure that there is a comprehensive clean-up of the Niger-Delta?
“Until that is done, NNPC would be guilty of looking only at the money and not caring who dies, which rivers are polluted, which forests are wiped out, and how many futures are annulled in advance.”
Speaking after the event, Jagoda Munic, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: “I’m from Southern Europe and for us it’s even difficult to comprehend gas flaring there because it’s an energy source that is really important, that you buy on the market, it’s not something that you flare in the air.
”For instance, two years ago when we had solidarity actions with Friends of the Earth Nigeria and we were presenting, there was a film about poisonous fires, about gas flaring in Nigeria broadcast to the audience. People were actually shocked that something like that is existing.
“So I will say the first obstacle is communication because many people cannot comprehend that someone is just burning gas into air. Second obstacle is implementation of legal framework. In Nigeria, this is illegal here, should be stopped, but because of a lot of pressure by big international companies, it’s not stopping.”
According to Munic, the third obstacle is bringing multinational companies under the rule of law.
She said: “We are campaigning hard on that.
“Of course it’s still not enough but for instance right now we are in a big coalition with a civil society organization that is demanding the UN to make a legal binding treaty that is going to stop corporate impunity, particularly multinational companies in other countries, when they abuse human rights.
“So I think, if we succeed in that, and UN has agreed to pass such treaty, now they are developing it in terms of content. That will give us a tool to basically put more legal pressure on international companies.”