THE issue of climate change did not get so serious in the past, like it is now all over the world. Nigeria is a big part of the climate change mitigation campaign. The idea of clean energy is not new to Nigeria. However, we have not made any serious, ambitious decision to exploit the many great benefits that are in the use of clean, renewable energy, even though Nigeria is a signatory to the Kyoto’s protocol, as well as a founding member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Nigeria’s carbon footprint (our contribution to emission of greenhouse gases like CO2 into the atmosphere), through the exploration and exploitation of non-renewable energy sources like the fossil fuels (coal-based energy, natural gas flaring) is a major global issue and one of national interest in which the Nigerian government must give attention to.
Climate change, which is a deviation from the normal weather pattern over an extended period of time (usually thirty years and above), is mainly caused as a result of human activities, from the burning of fossil fuels, agricultural production and industrialization, etc. Today, the world is moving to mitigate against climate change, especially in the adoption of renewable energy use as against the common fossil fuels used to generate power, in transportation and industrial machines. According to the national coordinator of the Renewable Energy Programme (REP) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “Nigeria is to lead in lighting the world through renewable energy.”However, we are yet to make a headway. Nigeria and other African nations have not yet seen this vision come to fruition, as we still spend some $5 billion annually on fuel for noisy, dirty diesel generators or for more polluting charcoals, with many people still living in the dark and many jobs and businesses paralysed.
In our struggles in Nigeria to get a stable source of power or energy, we have often failed. A clear way out of this mess is the exploitation of the abundant, rich renewable energy from the sun, wind, rain etc. These options are peculiar and readily available in Nigeria; a tropical nation. According to the 2015 Statistical Bulletin of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the country’s consistent GDP rise has not translated into economic and social well-being of the Nigerian people; with high annual unemployment rate, high annual poverty rate. All this is a result of the fact that we are a consuming and not a producing nation. But how can we produce when we do not have a reliable source of energy? This, then, is the option that the clean, renewable energy will provide the nation. If we change from the fossil fuels to a massive level of renewables, only then can we have real economic growth, which will create jobs for all; a better source of income; massive investments in all sectors of the economy and improved standard of living for the Nigerian rural people. Renewables are more cost effective, than the fossil fuel-based form of energy we keep spending money on yearly, without any result for that massive investment.
Unfortunately, Nigeria’s fossil fuels industry’s contribution to climate change is massive. There is a need for urgent action in this area, as our average annual temperature till date keeps rising (Average temperature for year 2013, 2014, 2015 are 27.38OC, 27.53OC an d 27.38OC respectively). To join hands with the our counterparts in other nations in tackling climate change, we must avoid or reduce the emission of carbon, because these emissions most especially in form of coal-based power can hurt the ozone layer that protect our atmosphere, hurt aquatic life, destroy biodiversity in our environment, negatively impact our health and even indirectly cause social unrest.
Sooner than later, almost all mechanical and electrical devices will be powered by renewables globally and our dogged, unresponsive stance to clean, renewable energy, will eventually hit back at us, our people and our environment if we do not change. It is now that the Nigerian government and key stakeholders should look into this viable, efficient and clean form of energy. We cannot continue to dwell in the past, we must live in the reality of the current revolution: the (renewable) clean, energy transition in the world all over. Now is the era of significant, radical transition of economies from climate change-induced, coal-based energy options to clean, renewable energy all over the world. Clean, renewable energy is the only safe and clean way to getting our stable energy source and also enjoying a well ordered environment. Now is the time, Nigeria. Rise Nigeria!
- Olufemi is a student of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Ondo State