ERA/FoEN advocates urgent transition to renewable energy in Africa

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…Says Nigeria not ready for post-petroleum economy

By: Bamidele Fashube

THE Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has expressed the need for African countries to urgently embrace renewable energy sources in order to catch up with the rapid global transitions from dirty to clean energy.

The group expressed worry over the slow pace of most African nations on the energy transition stressing the need to particularly invest in solar energy.

Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo made the call in his address during a 2-day conference on Climate Justice held in Port Harcourt. He emphasised the need for Nigeria to divest funds from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Ojo noted that whereas on a global level, countries are making comprehensive plans to transit from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and cleaner technologies by the year 2030 in line with the Paris Agreement of 2015, Nigeria was still neck-deep in seeking investments for oil prospecting.

According to Ojo, by 2025, some European countries have committed to end the production of petrol-diesel cars and fully embrace renewable energy. Already, there are trade-in schemes to get rid of petrol- diesel cars in place of the emerging and fast-spreading electric cars in developed countries.

“In Africa, there is the genuine fear of energy colonialism if all the disused and obsolete energy systems and petrol engines and vehicles are shipped to Africa as Greek gifts or even for sale.  This means that the third world countries would be a dumping ground which will have a serious impact on the environment, health and general well being of the people”.

“How will Africa react to this pending crisis waiting to happen and how will the rich countries respond to this during the COP-26 coming up in Glasgow later in the year? Ojo queried. “Transitional justice requires that rich countries pay ecological debts to compensate for Nigeria’s stranded assets such as oil and gas reserves, account for the historical carbon emissions released into the atmosphere and address loss and damage for fairness and equity including payment of compensation to victims of climate change.”

While reasoning that Nigeria beyond oil is very feasible with several benefits accruable to the country, Ojo noted that his organization and allies including civil society groups, community-based organizations, community representatives across Nigeria have recognized the urgent need for an energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Ojo, however, expressed displeasure over the slow migration from dependence on fossils by the federal government which is still neck-deep in seeking investments for oil prospecting especially in the Gongola/ Chad Basins and has committed billions of dollars to the expansion of Nigeria’s oil and gas reserves. Is this the right move for Nigeria? This shows that Nigeria is not ready for a post-petroleum economy, he added.

Ojo insisted that the disadvantages of fossil fuels are far greater than their advantages whereas solar energy has all-around advantages without any dangerous impact on the users and the environment.

“The divestment of public finance, loans and subsidies from fossil fuels and investing them on renewable energy development and development of cleaner technologies offer the opportunity for a post-petroleum Nigeria,” Ojo stated.

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