By Ruth During
The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22), the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12), and the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) were held in Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016.The Conference successfully demonstrated to the world that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is underway and the constructive spirit of multilateral cooperation on climate change continues.
The Marrakech call was loud and clear saying nothing can stop global climate action. The momentum for the adoption of the Paris Agreement was enabled by Party and non-Party stakeholders taking action to address climate change and undertaking to progressively enhance the ambition of this action.
The General Assembly of the United Nations, in its 2005 Progress Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), stressed the threat of climate change to the achievement of the MDGs and highlighted the importance of managing climate variability and change in a proactive way to facilitate the achievement of the MDGs, also the 2007 Human Development Report notes that information is critical in planning for adaptation to climate change. The lack of appropriate and reliable systematic climate-related information hampers efforts aimed at addressing the challenges of climate change in Africa.
At the same time, there is universal recognition that if we are to realize the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must all go further and faster in delivering climate action before 2020, enabled by adequate flows of finance, technology and capacity building.
In Nigeria, the importance of energy for development is increasingly well appreciated now. The good news is that generating electricity from renewables like solar and wind is now as cheap as using fossils fuels in many places so there is a great opportunity for Nigeria to embrace the clean energy revolution. Being Africaâ€™s largest economy, yet we donâ€™t match such growth with infrastructure development. Energy efficiency leads to important social benefits such as reducing the energy bills for poor households which is a welcome development. Also, Nigeria can benefit from the targeted interventions that would reduce the local air pollution and help the country to tackle greenhouse gas emission if they embrace clean energy.
Renewable energy has an important role to play in meeting the future energy needs in both rural and urban areas in Nigeria. The development and utilization of renewable energy should be given a high priority, especially in the light of increased awareness of the adverse environmental impacts of fossil-based generation. The need for sustainable energy is rapidly increasing in the world. and a widespread use of renewable energy is important for achieving sustainability in the energy sectors in Nigeria. As a nation, we are blessed with a large amount of renewable natural resources, which when fully developed and utilized, will lead to poverty reduction and sustainable development.
Nigeria should embrace the Clean Energy Revolution through the use of renewable energy technologies for the following reasons:
Firstly, they generally cause less environmental impact than other energy sources. The implementation of renewable energy technologies will help to address the environmental concerns that emerged due to greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), oxides of sulfur (SOx), and particulate matters as a result of power generation from oil, natural gas, and coal. They cannot be depleted and if used carefully in appropriate applications, renewable energy resources will provide a reliable and sustainable supply of energy almost indefinitely. In contrast, to fossil fuel resources which diminished by extraction and consumption. They favor system decentralization and local solutions that are somewhat independent of the national network, thus enhancing the flexibility of the system and providing economic benefits to small isolated populations.
Because renewable energies are constantly being replenished from natural resources, they have security of supply, unlike fossil fuels, which are negotiated on the international market and subject to international competition, sometimes even resulting in wars and shortages.
Also some of the important advantages of renewable energies are:
Their rate of use does not affect their availability in the future; thus, they are inexhaustible.
The resources are generally well distributed all over the world, even though wide spatial and temporal variations occur. Thus, all regions of the world have reasonable access to one or more forms of renewable energy supply. Most importantly, they are clean and pollution-free and are therefore a sustainable natural form of energy. They can be cheaply and continuously harvested and are therefore a sustainable source of energy. And finally, unlike the nuclear and fossil fuels plants which belong to big companies, governments, or state-owned enterprises, renewable energy can be set up in small units and is therefore suitable for community management and ownership. In this way, the returns from renewable energy projects can be kept in the community.
In Nigeria, this has particular relevance since the electricity grid does not extend to remote areas, and it is prohibitively expensive to do so. This presents a unique opportunity to construct power plants closer to where they are actually needed. In this way, much needed income, skill transfer, and manufacturing opportunities for small businesses would be injected into rural communities.
The fossil fuel industry has so much endangered the lives of millions of people including myself. According to the WHO, outdoor air pollution kills about 3.3 million people every year, more than HIV, malaria and influenza combined, Nigeria flares about 17.2 billion metric tons of natural gas annually into the atmosphere. This flaring equals one quarter of the power consumption of the entire African continent. The government is not interested in the health, environment and social problems surrounding such reckless activities. They are more focused on making more money at the detriment of the environment and poor inhabitants. Gas flaring has a direct impact on the immediate environment; it releases pollutants into the air thus making it dangerous for breathing. These particles or gases can significantly alter the weather and climate pattern of the area over a period of time. The affected areas will witness acidic rainfall which is not suitable for drinking. The acid rain contains Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, it corrodes roofs and kills plants thus creating economic hardship for inhabitants who will need to spend more to buy portable water and food produce which should normally yield from their farms. Fossil fuel does not just pollute our environment; it is a major cause of ill health around the world. We do not need coal-powered plants. This is one of the major reasons Nigeria must break free from fossil fuels and embrace clean energy.
To seize the opportunities presented by renewable energy resources in sustainable development, Nigeria needs to establish renewable energy markets and gradually develop experience with renewable energy technologies. The barriers and constraints to the diffusion of renewable energy should be overcome and a legal, administrative, and financing infrastructure should be established to facilitate planning and application of renewable energy projects. Government must play a useful role in promoting renewable energy technologies by initiating surveys and studies to establish their potential in both urban and rural areas.
Unlike the nuclear and fossil fuels plants which belong to big companies, governments, or state-owned enterprises, renewable energy can be set up in small units and is therefore suitable for community management and ownership. In this way, the returns from renewable energy projects can be kept in the community.
It is established that renewable energy and energy efficiency are two components that should go together to achieve sustainable development in Nigeria. The need to conserve the present energy generated in the country using energy-efficient products and the appropriate practices will be essential for sustainable development. Therefore, it is recommended that the country should establish an agency to promote the use of energy-efficient products and ensure the appropriate practices. Develop and imbibe energy efficiency technologies and finally create awareness on renewable energy and energy efficiency, with the use of biofuels in efficient cooking stoves and lamps in homes.