By Wale Bakare
The world marches towards December United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP21) Paris Climate Summit to know what effort governments are taking on how to cut emissions for the post 2020 period.
Ahead of the UN conference this year, Nigeria government has inaugurated a nine-man inter-ministerial committee that will prepare the framework for Nigeria active participation in the conference. Nigeria’s commitment should go beyond attending alone but also to extend to national implementation of the climate change policies with reference to the country’s obligation under the climate change convention and also the development of National policy on climate change.
Some countries have promised to cut their emission. EU promised to cut theirs by 40% by 2030 and Switzerland has promised 50% while U.S.A and Mexico will release theirs soonest. For now, Nigeria has not made any declaration on percentage reduction on it climate emission but awareness for the need to shift from Fossil Fuel to Renewable Energy is on to save lives and the nation economy. Nigeria cannot ignore the need to reduce harmful effects of climate change and the call for an end to human activities that contribute to it.
Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain and tides and geothemal can be replenished. Shifting from fossil fuel to renewable energy will directly contribute to poverty alleviation by providing the energy needed for businesses and employment.
Renewable energy technologies can also make indirect contributions to alleviating poverty by providing energy for cooking, space heating, lighting and contributing to education by providing electricity to schools. The renewable energy programme, which began in Nigeria in February 2012 was formally launched in Abuja recently under the supervision of Arc. Darius Ishaku, the Supervising Minister of Environment but it is yet to get the legislation to enable the programme assume the status of an agency.
In its bid to cut down on energy poverty, reduce the congestion on the national grid and improve the health of the people in line with achieving its set objectives under the renewable energy programme, the ministry also unveiled a programme tagged Rural Women Energy Security (RUWES). Arc. Ishaku said the project initiated by the Renewable Energy Programme of the Federal Ministry of Environment is targeted at under-served rural women with the aim of ensuring affordable and sustainable clean energy access to the rural poor.
For Nigeria to reduce its contribution to climate change, Nigeria must begin to institutionalise its development of energy efficiency and renewable energy with appropriate goals and objectives to increase the use of renewable energy resources in areas where grid extension is too costly and where opportunities for the use of renewables is economically needed.
Additionally, Nigeria government do not need subsidies for fossil fuels as it impedes the pace of the transition renewable energy use. Likewise, market transformation mechanisms similar to that adopted in the developed countries which will encourage more rapid development of its energy efficiency and renewable energy potential should be explored.
Active participation of Nigeria government in the global climate change deliberation in order to negotiate a better deal for Nigeria and Africa is necessary. The suggestion that oil-producing countries should be compensated for their projected income losses in the event will assist their economy diversification attempt should be vigorously argued and canvassed. Nigeria can only be sure that its interest is protected in the emergent global reduction strategy if it increases its level of participation in climate awareness.
We have demonstrated that Nigeria cannot afford to continue ignoring the potential impacts of the global climate change response measures on its economy. It was be noted clearly that though Nigeria should capitalize on the emission open space afforded it for its low historical contribution to the climate change problem, it is in its interest to begin to introduce measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, due to the negative impacts of climate change on its economic, social, security and environmental resources.
It is imperative that full attention is paid to ways through which the Nigerian economy can be diversified and steered away from fossil fuels both in terms of production and consumption.
The point above will save Nigeria from certain collapse if implemented for climate change measures. No oil spills, no climate change, no radiation danger, no nuclear waste – simply energy we can trust. We can achieve a Nigeria with 100 per cent renewable energy.
Bakare, Founder of Sensitizing Health Initiative (SHI), writes from Lagos, Nigeria