Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the Federal Government to look away from oil based economy and focus more on other natural resources for a long time sustainable economy.
Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, made this call during the 12th National Environmental Congress, which was held at Landmark Hotel, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, over the weekend.
The congress which was meant to dissect and proffer remedies on the future of Nigeria beyond oil, had the theme ‘Beyond Oil: Tacking Institutional Gaps in Natural Resources Governance in Nigeria.’
He called for the establishment of the Climate Change Commission to coordinate activities and drive the process of adaptation and mitigation efforts in order to attract finance and technology that is required for change.
Dr Ojo reminded the Nigerian government that global energy landscape is witnessing fundamental changes, hence it has to act fast to diversify the economy.
“How is Nigeria responding to a post petroleum economy and in the management of its land, forests, water, and minerals resources in the face of climate change? How will the decades of environmental and social degradation of the Niger Delta region be accounted for? In particular, how will Nigeria transit from oil dependency to renewable sources of energy? Indications show that there is hardly any institutional change to address these challenges in Nigeria.
“Let me announce to you that the oil age is over! It was a former Saudi Arabian oil Minister who once said, ‘The stone age did not end because of the lack of stones. Although there are still hundreds of millions of barrels of crude oil and tens of trillion standard cubic feet of gas deposits around the world yet the world has seen the proverbial hand writing on the wall and is moving on to avoid climatic catastrophe as the earth moves towards its tipping point,” he said.
According to Ojo, Nigeria should make the commitment to reduce its dependence on oil, end gas flaring, and reduce carbon emissions from the modes of production and consumption.
“It must make the commitment to divest from fossil fuel development and invest more in renewable energy sources, and halt the importation of petrol and diesel engine combustion cars by 2030. Nigeria must not become a dumping ground for obsolete machinery from industrailised countries that could further compound the high cocktail of toxic pollution in Nigeria,” he said.
He stated further that the increasing growth in renewable energy production is driven mainly by the need to address the climate emergency, provide greater energy access and reduction of the rate of poverty through the promotion of SMEs.
“In 2018 alone a staggering 168 gigawatts of renewable energy electricity was produced globally. It was the sixth year in a row in which additional power generation from renewable energy outpaced power production from conventional sources such as coal, oil and gas.
“Globally, renewable energy is now driving an energy transformation process that is creating new economic and social opportunities across the world. And countries that take the lead in this transition will reap the biggest financial, social and economic gains.
“Nigeria is yet to embrace renewable energy through a holistic approach requiring institutional transformation. We make the compelling case that Nigeria would require to urgently overhaul its various MDAs and other institutions to deliver on transition to a low carbon economy. There is a compelling environmental and economic case for transiting to renewable energy. Nigeria must not be left behind or become a dumping group for obsolete petrol-diesel engine cars from industrialized countries.
“Although Nigeria has committed to some form of transition to reduce carbon emissions through the nationally determined contributions, yet there are virtually no institutional overhaul that is required to reposition the country for the required changes in the mode of production and supply to meet our basic needs such as food, water, air quality, and the management of natural resources.
“There are several lessons to draw from countries taking advantage of renewable energy transition. An example is Costa Rica, a small nation in Central America with a population of just over 5 million people is well on its way to energy sovereignty and becoming the first developing country to depend on 100% renewable energy. This was achieved by a combination of small hydro, solar, geothermal energy which supplies about 98% of the electricity produced in the country. Reports show that in 2019, for 94 consecutive days Costa Rica depended on only renewable energy for its energy needs and is planning to go a whole year without resort to fossil fuel energy and then to permanently put fossil fuels out of commission in the country by 2025 or as soon as possible,” he said.
He noted that the petroleum sector plays a key role in driving Nigerias economy, including agriculture, manufacturing and the management of natural resources. Yet, energy demand outstrips supply hence there is need for an overhaul of modes of production and consumption.
In July 2019, according to a United States of America publication which provides commercial guide to locate export opportunities in Nigeria shows that aggregate energy demand in the country was put at 25,770MW.
However, supply oscillates between a peak of 4,500MW and lower. For a country with a population of about 200 million and with the biggest economy in Africa this is untenable. The cost of electricity generation and distribution is a key constraint in the electricity supply chain in Nigeria.
Although Nigeria presently has an installed capacity of 12,522MW of electricity but a decrepit transmission facility would only permit the transmission of a fraction of the energy that could be made available, he noted.
“It is the apparent fundamental disconnection in policy circles that is lacking how best to address these gaps in the energy sector and across other sectors in natural resource governance. We need a systemic approach across the sectors to redirect the initiatives to set new targets and milestones to move towards transformative change in our mode of production and consumption.
“There is need to empower communities for a decentralized energy transition.”
ERA Executive Director said though there are some indications that Nigeria made some efforts toward reducing its carbon footprints by putting in place the Renewable Energy Master plan of 2006 that require implementation; the Green Bonds, first in Africa, however, there are concerns that this may not be feasible given the deplorable state of the national grids.
“Although Nigeria has made some strides in the energy transition, such effort will generate greater results if local communities are targeted for community empowerment for mini-grid or non-grid energy systems that will provide electricity and drive the SMEs to generate green jobs and reduce the rate of poverty. The alternative to mobilize, support and coordinate local communities and small businesses to participate in producing and consuming clean renewable energy across the country is urgently required.”
In proffer”Nigeria must seek to correct the institutional gaps to make meaningful progress;
“Make the commitment to shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources by divesting from oil and gas and coal to renewable energy sources.
“Rehabilitation Fund for the clean up and remediation of the hydro-carbon soaked Niger Delta. Until the region is cleaned up and remediation carried out, the region will remain poor and restive.
“Conduct independent monitoring of the ongoing Ogoni clean up to ensure proper clean up and remediation. The Key performance indicators researched by ERA and its allies are now before CSOs and the relevant government agencies including NOSDRA and HYPREP to transform to action.
“Protecting community land rights and tenure to ensure proper land management that promotes equity and fairness.”