In the wake of dwindling oil revenues and sustained environmental hazards, activists are asking for Nigeria’s transition to a zero carbon economy. This call was made at the 8th Annual National Environmental Congress in Port Harcourt; environmentalists say a shift to a non-fossil fuel dependent economy has become inevitable.
”We are drawing attention to the need for energy transition for Nigeria,” said Godwin Ojo, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), at a congress which was tagged ‘Extractives and Energy Transition: Roadmap for Zero-Carbon Development.’
While disclosing that the conference was called to draw attention to the fact that Nigeria should not be caught napping in the energy revolution that is underway; Ojo said “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. This is crucial because in 30-50 years, the impact of climate change will be monumental, even more catastrophic so there is every need for mitigation and adaptation to climate change issues.
The congress began with a one-minute silence to Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni environmental activist who was hanged by the military government 20 years ago, it also paid tribute to Oronto Douglas, the late Special Adviser on Research and Strategy to former president Goodluck Jonathan and a founding members of ERA/FoEN.
“The struggle of the Ogoni people and the legacy of Saro-Wiwa remains for all people involved in environmental justice struggles both a signal of hope and victory, and an emblem of resistance against multinational corporations on a global scale in both intensity and spread” He continued: “Since 1993, Shell remained expelled from Ogoni with over 28,000 barrels of crude oil locked in. The Ogoni people deserve fair and adequate compensation from the UN Green Climate Fund.”
Sofiri Joab-Peterside, a lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, who delivered the keynote speech, said amid the increasing impacts of climate change, government should create an enabling environment to support a low carbon development pathway. “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,” He accused the World Bank of creating processes that ensure continuation of fossil utilization due in part to the huge lobby power of the extractive industry.
Iniruo Wills, Commissioner for Environment, Bayelsa State, 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”,