At the just –ended International conference on Just Energy Transition organised by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in Abuja, communities and member groups of Friends of the Earth International have demanded more commitment from African governments on their quest for energy transition.
The groups said to ThepageNews it was urgent that Africa transits from fossil fuels to renewable as climate change impacts escalate and put communities in danger.
In his opening remarks, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, ERA/FoEN said that while Nigeria and other African countries continue in the quest to transit from oil, the developed world should not exploit this quest to recolonise Africa and perpetrate inequalities.
Ojo noted that while there has been tremendous growth across the globe from the start of the industrial revolution to the present, the consequence of unrestrained economic expansion has been the incredible increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the warming of the climate.
He revealed that scientists recently revealed that the warmest years recorded in history have occurred in the last five years and that every year gets progressively warmer than the last with many communities experiencing first-hand, the impact of the climate crisis
Cross Section of participants
He also pointed out that a recent Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Climate Change released on October 8, 2018 paints a frightening scenario of “irreversible impacts on humans and the ecosystem if we fail to act.”
The same report calls on the global community to act immediately and show more ambition so that rising temperature does not exceed the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, if the earth is to have the opportunity of containing the impacts of climate change.
To achieve this there must be comprehensive phase out of fossil fuels, faster electrification, lower energy demands, changes in consumption and dieting patterns as well as protecting and restoring degraded ecosystems.
Because of these, he said there is need for urgency and ambition for a Just Energy Transition which developed nations have leapfrogged into.
According to him, the national budget for renewable energy has reached an investment of US$286 in 2015 alone.
Despite this, he explained that more than 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity and about 2.4 billion depend solely on fuel wood.
“The rising energy demand is also leading to increasing violent resource conflicts at the sites of extraction. Nigeria is nowhere near meeting its nationally determined commitment to addressing climate change and reducing carbon emissions. About 70 percent of the 170 million population depend solely on fuel wood for energy and representing one of the world’s highest deforestation rate of 3.5 percent annually.”
He added however, that, “While over-consumption continues unabated in rich and industralised countries, others, less endowed face energy poverty on a daily basis. Energy Colonialism is killing Africa and replicating already existing inequalities in renewable energy access hence the need for Energy Democracy. “
Speaking to ThepageNews The ERA/FoEN boss noted that theoretically, Nigeria has shown some ambition to reduce its carbon emissions by 20% unconditionally and 45% conditionally by 2030 given the needed finance and technology by rich countries.
He however pointed out that one fundamental challenge facing Nigeria and other African countries is minerals and oil-dependency on raw materials and sources of revenue.
ERA/FoEN, according to him, has a manifesto on the way forward. He said the conference, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of ERA/FoEN, presented the opportunity to present the manifesto to the Nigerian government.
The event was graced by representatives of government, civil society and communities from across Africa, Latin America, Asia, United States and Europe. Speakers included Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth International, Professor Lanre Fagbohun, the Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University who delivered the keynote address, and Comrade Uche Onyeagucha – former House of Representatives member, among others.
Some of the positions the groups advocated include:
- Nigeria and other African governments stop new fossil fuel extraction and divest funding, loans and subsidies from fossil fuel development and channel same to renewable sources of energy.
- African governments prioritise national and community energy needs over global economic models that promote inequalities.
- African governments go beyond mere words by allocating substantial per cent of their annual income to funding for research and development of alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass, among others.
- African governments embrace and promote decentralized alternative energy with a focus on renewables that are affordable and environment friendly. Clean and safe community alternative energy models should be vigorously pursued to deliver on community energy needs that are off-grid and mini-grids.
- African governments put in place appropriate institutional infrastructure and frameworks to support expanding energy supply and access and their sustainability.
- Access to energy must not be driven by capitalists but seen as a right with people power, citizens and vulnerable groups involved in the shaping of local renewable energy solutions
- There is need for zero tariffs on renewable energy products to allow greater energy access to local communities. Support should come in form of grants, loans and subsidies beyond exploitative enterprise models to local communities and workers in transitioning from fossil fuels to green economy
- Civil society and groups working on alternatives to fossil fuels in the global North and South work in synergy so that the goal of a Just transition can be met at the soonest
- Media deepen the understanding of energy issues as well as the struggles against environmental and climate injustices.