climate change

'The water's not going anywhere' - Louisiana confronts climate threats

Katrina.jpg

In storm-battered New Orleans, preparation for disasters "has become the norm, not the exception"

Sitting on his porch in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Otis Tucker cuts a lone figure on a street punctuated with large empty spaces - the shadows of homes lost to Hurricane Katrina.

Tucker lives in the part of the Louisiana city most devastated by the powerful storm and its aftermath in 2005, when levees designed to protect the city from flooding failed.

Many residents of the poor neighbourhood have struggled to return after fleeing Katrina.

Lack of funds to come home and rebuild, coupled with developers swiftly moving in, and gentrification of this predominantly black, lower-income area, have left scars.

Today, broken windows and overgrown weeds pepper abandoned homes, and the angry barking of a dog interrupts the silence.

"There were families here, there were kids in the street playing football, and there were neighbours," said Tucker, who was born and bred in the neighbourhood. "And that went away overnight. It just got washed away."

Since being battered by Katrina – which killed more than 1,800 people and destroyed or damaged about 800,000 homes - New Orleans has started adapting to extreme weather, which scientists predict will worsen as the planet warms.

Arthur Johnson, chief executive officer of the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development in the Lower Ninth Ward, said disaster preparation "has become the norm, not the exception".

Evacuation centres have been built, homes have been raised higher, and solar panels installed on roofs.

The center teaches the community here to create "rain gardens" that capture rainwater for re-use. And with much of the soil still contaminated by toxic chemicals such as arsenic post-Katrina, local people are shown how to grow orchards and plant seeds in troughs above the ground.

WORKING WITH WATER

On a larger scale, New Orleans-based architects Waggonner and Ball have played a lead role in developing the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan.

Funded by the Louisiana Office of Community Development, the plan addresses flooding from heavy rainfall, as well as ground subsidence caused by pumping out storm water.

Company president David Waggonner, who travels extensively to share his experiences, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the city has much to learn from Amsterdam.

New Orleans has relied on an outdated method of pumping out excess water, and needs to rethink if it is to survive, he explained at his desk, which sports a model of the city's streets and extensive pump stations.

"The city needs to learn to live with water - creating a space for water to fall and gradually go into the soil and back into the sky," he said.

One way to do this is by creating "aesthetic blue ways and green ways", he added.

These include the Mirabeau Water Garden in Gentilly district - 25 acres (10 hectares) that will be designed to divert water from canals and capture storm runoff - as well as other green infrastructure such as new parks and redesigned streets with trees, grassy areas and ponds.

COASTAL MASTER PLAN

New Orleans is the state's largest city, with a population of just under 400,000, but Louisiana as a whole is responding rapidly to ongoing land loss and an increased risk of flooding.

According to a study released by the U.S. Geological Society, Louisiana is suffering loss of its wetlands at a rate of a football field an hour.

"After Hurricane Katrina, people started to get really serious about coastal issues," said Denise Reed, research professor at the University of New Orleans and a key technical advisor on the state-led Coastal Master Plan.

The first such master plan was mandated by the state legislature following Katrina, but earlier versions were more of a "wish list", Reed said.

The latest plan - drawn up by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and approved in 2017 - outlines priority projects requiring investment of $50 billion.

The money is needed to rebuild barrier islands and wetlands, move water and sediment from the Mississippi River to make new marshes, construct levees and flood gates, raise houses, and in some cases buy property so homeowners can move to a safer place.

"We all have to be creative with expenditure," Reed told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"In the area where I live, we've passed a sales tax, so every time you go to the store to buy something, a penny or two goes into a pot used for building a levee."

SINKING LAND, RISING SEAS

In a boat heading to the marshlands off the coast of Cocodrie, a shrimping and crabbing village in southeast Louisiana, Alex Kolker, associate professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, pointed to large industrial structures protruding from the water.

"Something in the order of 20 to 30 percent of the nation's oil infrastructure is in the Gulf of Mexico," said the oceanologist and coastal geologist. "It's a multi-billion, if not multi-trillion investment - and much of it is at, or very near, sea level."

The extractive industry is at risk from rising seas and storms, but is also a key reason why Louisiana is subsiding, he explained. When oil and gas are taken from the ground, a vacuum is created and the land sinks into it.

Research by Kolker and others shows that much of the subsidence affecting Louisiana's coast relates to these patterns of oil and gas withdrawal.

In the last century, most of the increase in the water level was due to the ground sinking, but as global sea levels rise, that is changing.

"The biggest variable for the future of Louisiana is sea level rise," said Kolker. He pointed to predictions the United States will see an average increase of about 1 cm (0.39 inches) a year by 2050.

"Those are the kind of rates that we experienced at the end of last Ice Age. That would be very, very disruptive - to New York, to London and Tokyo," he said.

Against that background, lessons being learned in Louisiana will be invaluable for the rest of the world, Kolker believes.

Back in New Orleans, Tucker's community has already experienced the full force of wild weather.

Even though he is aware that those with fewer means may struggle to be as resilient as wealthier residents, he is determined not to be cowed by the growing threat.

"I know that the water's not going anywhere," he said. "But politicians, developers, poor people, rich people, people with many resources, people with little - we're all in this together."

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation News

Call for Abstracts, 6th International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD)

unnamed(2).jpg

The Global Association of Master's in Development Practice Programs (MDP), in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), will hold the Sixth Annual International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) on 26-28 September, 2018, at Columbia University in New York City.

If you would like to present at the conference, please submit an abstract as directed below. The deadline for submission is May 1, 2018. The conference is also open to observers (i.e. non-presenters). Simply register on the conference website to join us!

The conference theme is Breaking Down Silos: Fostering Collaborative Action on the SDGs. The aim of the conference is to bring together persons involved in research, policy, practice, and business. Participants will share practical solutions for achieving the SDGs at local and national levels. Abstracts should be directly relevant to one of the following Topics:

  1. Linking Policy, Operations, and Workforce toward Meeting Global Health Goals
  2. Opportunities of Marine Natural Capital for Sustainable Blue Growth
  3. Metrics and frameworks for assessing Sustainable Urban Development
  4. Ensuring Public Engagement and Accountability for Sustainable Urban Development
  5. Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Towns and Small Cities
  6. Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Building in Agriculture
  7. Economics and Demography of Natural Disasters
  8. Clean and Affordable Energy as a Keystone for Sustainable Development
  9. Globalization, Value Chains and Decent Work
  10. Indigenous Approaches to Understanding and Practicing Sustainable Development
  11. Mainstreaming Gender in Agenda 2030: Interlinkages between Sustainable Development Goals
  12. Breaking Down Silos in Government Administration
  13. Breaking Down Silos in Universities: Imaginative Interdisciplinary Approaches to Sustainable Development Research, Education, and Practice
  14. Collaborative Arts & Culture to Help Achieve the SDGs
  15. What's Law Got to Do With It? Legal Preparedness for Delivering the SDGs

Interested presenters should submit an abstract of at least 300 words but not exceeding 500 words, in English, by 1 May, 2018, via the conference website. Each abstract may only be submitted once and under one Topic. Failure to answer questions on the submission form or the submission of the same abstract under multiple topics is likely to result in the abstract being declined.

We're here for you if you have questions! Write to info@ic-sd.org

Government Should Tap Into Renewable Energy Potential

Harvard and Oxford-trained scholar, Damilola Sunday Olawuyi, is a globally recognised professor of Energy and Environmental Law and director of the leading research think tank, the Institute for Oil, Gas, Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (OGEES Institute) at Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti. He is Vice President of the Nigerian branch of the International Law Association; member of the World Commission on International Environmental Law; and expert member of the International Law Association Committee on Sustainable Natural Resource Development where he represents Nigeria. He served as visiting professor at Columbia University, Oxford University and the China University of Political Science and Law. He has several publications in leading international law journals on the subject of renewable energy, agriculture, climate change and sustainable development. In this interview with the Yetunde Ayobami Ojo, he says government should urgently develop the country’s enormous renewable energy potential.

Nigeria, like many oil producing countries, is still reeling from the impact of the drop in the prices of oil. Will the oil and gas sector ever fully recover?
Unlike many that have written and published the obituary of the oil and gas industry, we professionals in the field know that the future of the sector remains exceedingly bright. The industry has been through, and survived, similar periodic downturns in the past, ranging from the 1973 oil crisis (first oil shock) in which the price of oil increased 400 per cent, leading to scarcity in some countries; then the 1979 oil shock when prices increased 100 per cent and the third oil crisis in 1990s, which contributed to global economic recession of the early 1990s and the most recent one.

This recent downturn has hit all of us hard due to failure to government’s properly utilise proceeds of the glorious years, when oil sold over $100 per barrel, to develop our infrastructure and to vitalise other key sectors. I have worked in the oil and gas countries in the Middle East such as, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, and they are, for example, not in recession as we speak, due to years of proper utilisation of oil proceeds. For an oil and gas giant like Nigeria to ever be in recession is a great shame.

The US shale boom is another potential game changer, which has, and will continue to alter the demand for our oil and nudge us to an uncertain future outlook. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has for example predicted that the United States would overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world’s leading oil producer by 2020 and, together with Canada, would become a net exporter of oil around 2030. These are tough predictions for Nigeria, as our main oil customer will itself become a leading supplier. This is why this is the time for Nigeria to start diversifying its economic base to shift to mining, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. This is what Qatar and a number of the Middle East giants are investing time and resources on, in order to stay ahead in the face of a changing energy outlook.

As we speak, I am currently leading a funded research project for the government of Qatar on this issue of low carbon energy transition. These are smart oil and gas producing countries that have accelerated their paths to energy and economic diversification. Wide scale economic diversification is the key for Nigeria to remain strong and competitive in the league of frontier energy jurisdictions.

What do you think is the most important step in diversifying the Nigerian economy at this challenging time?
Nigeria is very rich in energy. We only tend to focus excessively on oil and gas. Nigeria has strong comparative strengths in renewable energy, an area that the Nigerian Government has yet to fully develop.

Over the last five years, renewable energy has gained global prominence as the new oil and gas. Last year alone, worldwide investments in renewable energy amounted to more than US$214 billion with countries such as, Canada, China and the United States heavily investing in wind, hydro, solar and biofuel infrastructure projects. Apart from private sector investments, the United Nations, World Bank, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and other development agencies have established special Clean Funds through which governments at federal and state levels can access funds to develop renewable energy projects ranging from conversion of biomass or waste to energy; biofuels from agriculture; geothermal, mini-hydro, solar and wind energy projects. Renewable energy projects funded under this platform focus on ways to reduce energy poverty; generate clean jobs; and produce sustainable and renewable energy in developing countries. They can also be the key to solving Nigeria’s electricity challenges.

Nigeria’s potentials as a significant source of renewable energy have never been in doubt. From the water intensity of the Osun River in my home state, Osun; to the expanse hectares of arable land in many parts of Nigeria; and the sunshine intensity in the North, have led to several scientific conclusions that Nigeria could be one of the richest countries on earth in terms of solar, wind and hydro energy. Unlike oil and gas, these are clean, cheap, inexhaustible sources of electricity, meaning they never end. They also come with less environmental problems such as pollution or spillage.

Nigeria has infinite potentials to be the leader in renewable energy sources in Africa. Renewable energy can directly contribute to poverty alleviation programs by attracting international development funds for renewable energy projects; boosting internally generated revenue by attracting global and public private partnership investments in renewable energy projects; creating new energy jobs for youths; providing alternative energy supply for businesses; and deploying clean cooking stoves and household stand- alone solar solutions in rural communities.

Given these enormous economic advantages of renewable and alternative energy, how can government move this forward?
One key problem we have in this area is lack of sustained policy action by successive governments. On May 05, 2015, the Federal Government of Nigeria officially adopted the National Policy on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which aims to increase renewable energy investments to generate electricity and to address climate change problems. The policy also aimed to establish a federal agency on renewable energy like many other countries in the world have done. However, this program was launched in the last few weeks of former President Goodluck Jonathan administration. Since 2015, not much has been heard about the renewable energy programme. I have personally been leading scholarly agenda aimed at getting the current government to revisit this lofty energy diversification and electricity generation program.

In 2015, the Executive Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, invited me to help develop a policy programme that could help Osun State attain leadership in implementing a robust renewable energy and energy efficiency program over the next decade. However, this unfortunately coincided with the time our State had problems with protesting workers so we had to halt this plan. I do hope to revisit this ambitious plan in the future at State and Federal levels. For example, if well developed, we could generate electricity from solar, hydro and wind sources, making it possible for each state to be self sufficient in terms of generating adequate amount of electricity for domestic and industrial use.

How serious do you think Nigeria is in addressing the issue of Climate change?
Nigeria will need to move from bureaucratic rhetoric to more concrete and holistic action to address climate change. In the Paris Agreement, Nigeria pledged to reduce its GHG emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 and 45 per cent by 2030. These are ambitious targets, which on the ground, we have done little in terms of laws, institutions and policies to actualise.

As of today, we have no climate change law, no climate change federal agency and no national action plan on GHG reduction. I was personally excited when the current government appointed the immediate past Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, as Minister for Environment. However, she had to leave to become the United Nations Deputy Secretary General.

We need to revisit some of the lofty blue prints she developed on climate change mitigation and adaptation in Nigeria. The environment is too serious an issue to be left at the periphery of decision-making. Climate change should not be viewed as a threat alone, it is also a great economic opportunity for Nigeria to develop a green economy that encourages new jobs in recycling, waste management, green buildings and clean transportation. We can get there. We only need to start first.

How can you assess Nigeria’s readiness to achieve the SDGs?
As you rightly noted, on September 25, 2015, countries, including Nigeria, adopted a set of targets and goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, over the next 15 years. In other words, by the year 2030, the plan is that our world will be on the path of comparable and holistic social, economic and environmental development.

For these ambitious goals to be reached, we must ask, how can we avoid the same pitfalls and mistakes that made it impossible for us to attain the MDGs that expired in 2015. Everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people like you and I, to avoid the same false start. As of today, Nigeria has not done much to correct the same pitfalls, which centre on lack of sustained governmental action to pursue the sustainable development agenda.

By attaining the rank of full professor of law in 2015 at the age of 32, you became one of the youngest law professors in Nigeria, what are the challenges you faced in achieving that feat?
Well, I am humbled and honoured to follow the remarkable path of Nigeria’s current Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo. SAN who I understand also attained full professorship at the age of 33. I am very fortunate to have tapped into the visions of the President and Founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, OFR, LL.D, CON, who is well known to be one of the most successful lawyers in Nigeria’s history and a leading advocate for university reform. Working closely with him challenged me to be the best in my teaching and research. Babalola’s accomplishments, from very humble beginnings, is enough motivation for every one associated with ABUAD to push for the greatest heights, break existing records and set new ones. The university and college of law provided the right atmosphere and resources for me to achieve this feat. Without the support and best wishes of everyone, ranging from the president and founder of the university, to the senior management of the university, the DVC and provost of the College of Law, Professor Smaranda Olarinde, to my head of department, and my students, this attainment would have been highly impossible. I faced no barrier; all I saw was motivation, encouragements and opportunities.

You are an alumnus of the Harvard and Oxford University, how did you achieve these?
I owe these achievements to the divine grace of God. How else could a young lad from Igbajo, Osun State, end up at these famous institutions? After achieving first class honours from the university, and another first class from the Nigerian Law School, I was double charged to follow the paths of the likes of ILA President, Professor Fidelis Oditah, QC, SAN who after making first class degrees from UNILAG and the Law School, also got scholarships to study at Oxford. Luckily, I was still at the Law School when I received a full scholarship from the Government of Canada to pursue LL.M in energy law at the University of Calgary in Canada.

Given these enormous economic advantages of renewable and alternative energy, how can government move this forward?
One key problem we have in this area is lack of sustained policy action by successive governments. On May 05, 2015, the Federal Government of Nigeria officially adopted the National Policy on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which aims to increase renewable energy investments to generate electricity and to address climate change problems. The policy also aimed to establish a federal agency on renewable energy like many other countries in the world have done. However, this program was launched in the last few weeks of former President Goodluck Jonathan administration. Since 2015, not much has been heard about the renewable energy programme. I have personally been leading scholarly agenda aimed at getting the current government to revisit this lofty energy diversification and electricity generation program.

In 2015, the Executive Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, invited me to help develop a policy programme that could help Osun State attain leadership in implementing a robust renewable energy and energy efficiency program over the next decade. However, this unfortunately coincided with the time our State had problems with protesting workers so we had to halt this plan. I do hope to revisit this ambitious plan in the future at State and Federal levels. For example, if well developed, we could generate electricity from solar, hydro and wind sources, making it possible for each state to be self sufficient in terms of generating adequate amount of electricity for domestic and industrial use.

How serious do you think Nigeria is in addressing the issue of Climate change?
Nigeria will need to move from bureaucratic rhetoric to more concrete and holistic action to address climate change. In the Paris Agreement, Nigeria pledged to reduce its GHG emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 and 45 per cent by 2030. These are ambitious targets, which on the ground, we have done little in terms of laws, institutions and policies to actualise.

As of today, we have no climate change law, no climate change federal agency and no national action plan on GHG reduction. I was personally excited when the current government appointed the immediate past Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, as Minister for Environment. However, she had to leave to become the United Nations Deputy Secretary General.

We need to revisit some of the lofty blue prints she developed on climate change mitigation and adaptation in Nigeria. The environment is too serious an issue to be left at the periphery of decision-making. Climate change should not be viewed as a threat alone, it is also a great economic opportunity for Nigeria to develop a green economy that encourages new jobs in recycling, waste management, green buildings and clean transportation. We can get there. We only need to start first.

How can you assess Nigeria’s readiness to achieve the SDGs?
As you rightly noted, on September 25, 2015, countries, including Nigeria, adopted a set of targets and goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, over the next 15 years. In other words, by the year 2030, the plan is that our world will be on the path of comparable and holistic social, economic and environmental development.

For these ambitious goals to be reached, we must ask, how can we avoid the same pitfalls and mistakes that made it impossible for us to attain the MDGs that expired in 2015. Everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people like you and I, to avoid the same false start. As of today, Nigeria has not done much to correct the same pitfalls, which centre on lack of sustained governmental action to pursue the sustainable development agenda.

By attaining the rank of full professor of law in 2015 at the age of 32, you became one of the youngest law professors in Nigeria, what are the challenges you faced in achieving that feat?
Well, I am humbled and honoured to follow the remarkable path of Nigeria’s current Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo. SAN who I understand also attained full professorship at the age of 33. I am very fortunate to have tapped into the visions of the President and Founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, OFR, LL.D, CON, who is well known to be one of the most successful lawyers in Nigeria’s history and a leading advocate for university reform. Working closely with him challenged me to be the best in my teaching and research. Babalola’s accomplishments, from very humble beginnings, is enough motivation for every one associated with ABUAD to push for the greatest heights, break existing records and set new ones. The university and college of law provided the right atmosphere and resources for me to achieve this feat. Without the support and best wishes of everyone, ranging from the president and founder of the university, to the senior management of the university, the DVC and provost of the College of Law, Professor Smaranda Olarinde, to my head of department, and my students, this attainment would have been highly impossible. I faced no barrier; all I saw was motivation, encouragements and opportunities.

You are an alumnus of the Harvard and Oxford University, how did you achieve these?
I owe these achievements to the divine grace of God. How else could a young lad from Igbajo, Osun State, end up at these famous institutions? After achieving first class honours from the university, and another first class from the Nigerian Law School, I was double charged to follow the paths of the likes of ILA President, Professor Fidelis Oditah, QC, SAN who after making first class degrees from UNILAG and the Law School, also got scholarships to study at Oxford. Luckily, I was still at the Law School when I received a full scholarship from the Government of Canada to pursue LL.M in energy law at the University of Calgary in Canada.

From Calgary, I received another full scholarship to go to Harvard University for another LL.M, and while still at Harvard, I received the prestigious Clarendon Scholarship and the Queen’s Overseas Research Scholarship to study for a PhD at Oxford University. After this, I was called to the bar in Canada and then practiced energy law at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada for a while. This is a remarkable story of divine grace from God. Having received so much support and mentoring from institutions abroad, what I have done with my career so far is to utilise these knowledge to serve my nation and to motivate young and upcoming lawyers.

You have been recently shortlisted for by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) for the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria under the academic category. Do you intend to set up a law practice soon to mentor young lawyers?
I am very humbled and honoured to have been shortlisted for the SAN award. It is also a positive reinforcement for young academics and scholars that with hard work and diligence, recognition will come some day. But as you know, the SAN award is a privilege, not a right. While I have earnest hope for a successful final outcome, I would not like to think just too far yet about next steps. I like to take it one step at a time. To have been shortlisted is a great attestation to the integrity and transparency of the process, let us wait and see what follows.

What is your advice for students?
As I tell my students, a great lawyer knows a little about everything. My advice for them is that they should take the opportunities of being students to learn more about everything: politics, sports, music, current affairs, society, language, religion and of course law. Push the boundaries by reading more from books, newspapers, law reports, and every other available material on the subject in the library. Such mental curiosity and desire to know more is the secret of success in this profession, whether as a practicing lawyer, legal academic, university administrator or even politician. As Thomas Huxley once remarked, a good student “Tries to learn something about everything and everything about something.”

Source : Yetunde Ayobami via The Guardian

Breaking Free from Fossil Fuels, Nigeria's Best Friend

The argument is over. Anyone that doesn’t believe that climate change is happening doesn’t believe in science.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (Actor, Activist, U.N. Messenger of Peace)

Solemnly, global warming, a cause of climate change, is one of the most important issues facing all of humanity today. Many environmentalists and climate scientists are of the opinion that the rise and proliferation of large scale industries in First World countries blew up the issue of global warming. Today, the significant effects of this industrialization on climate systems and patterns have swayed more towards less developed countries: changing weather patterns, rising sea level, more extreme weather events, and disruption of national economies and lives! Nigeria comes into this global problem at this point - a truth that can not be disputed. Hence, there is a dire need for the Republic of Nigeria to take sustainable actions, to move to a low carbon economy amongst other things.

The Nigerian society has been in an age long, paradoxical relationship with fossil fuels: this energy resources the nation while the ecosystem is damaged. Still, they remain best friends. Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy sources occurring in three (3), major forms; coal, oil or petroleum, and natural gas. On the history of energy sources in Nigeria, Olayinka explains:

Imported coal was first used in 1896, but it was not discovered in Nigeria until 1909 and was first produced in 1916. Although oil exploration started in 1901, it was first discovered in commercial quantity in 1956 and produced in 1958. Oil thereafter took over the energy scene from coal until 1969, when hydro energy was first produced.[1]

It would not be right if I completely paint Nigeria in a bad light with regards to environmental sustainability. Interestingly, 16% of the total energy in Nigeria comes from fossil fuel, and another 1% of it is generated from hydropower. The rest comes from waste and biomass.[2]

This is a good indicator, somewhat; it shows that dependency on fossil fuels have reduced - a step in the process of finally breaking free from them. However, the use of alternative and most importantly, renewable energy sources, is still deficient. As Oliver Twist asks for more, I am asking that more be done, that the Nigerian energy sector completely break free from fossil fuels, and prioritize generating solar and hydro energy. This would be a leapfrog to a cleaner, more resilient economy. I do this with the planet and people in mind.

Some individuals suggest that since fossils fuels are easily available and sourced, the nation should continue harnessing energy from them. I do not stand with this opinion. They must be reminded of the exponential increase in population which has increased the consumption of energy: the stock of fossil fuels has become limited, fast approaching its end. Others might raise issues of low cost and simplicity of harnessing energy from these fuels. Considering the serious health hazards and risk of air pollution – in the short and long term - associated with the combustion of fossil fuels, would it be humane and justifiable to put financial objectives before securing human life?'.

The US solar industry now employs three times more workers than coal mining or oil extraction.[3] Wow! Job creation is also a proof renewable energy generation. The Federal budget should support renewable energy instead of subsidizing the oil industry. Nigeria can completely break free from fossil fuels!

Sources:

1. Ogunsola O.I. (1990, 2007). History of Energy Sources and their Utilization in Nigeria, Energy Sources, 12 (2), p. 181. 

2. "Nigeria: Overview". U.S. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved 8 April 2016

3. Climate Council

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christopher Oghenekevwe Oghenechovwen , a B.Tech student of Meteorology and Climate Science (FUTA), is a decolonized African, environmentalist and ready volunteer. He is 2013 Citizenship and Leadership Certified by CLTC, Nigerian Federal Ministry of Youth Development, a 2015 UNESCO & Athabasca University student on Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue, 2015 Senior Category Gold Winner of The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition, and youth correspondent at yourcommonwealth.org . His growing passions lie within the circle of Climate Action, Media and Information, IT, Youth Education and Leadership. Apart from volunteering with Earthplus, The Green Campus Initiative, and doing creative writing, Oghenekevwe loves to connect with people. Invite him for a healthy conversation via chrischovwen@gmail.com

Diverse Opinions: Is Nigeria Really Green?

Before finally putting the threads of this article together, I wondered for a while on how the Nigerian public might respond if they were asked ‘is Nigeria really green’? 

Since, I cannot conduct a poll to answer this question, let us look at some narratives on Nigeria's eco sustainability as it relates to air, land, and water 

First, is the issue of gas flaring. Gas, a major cause of human and environmental health issues in the Niger Delta, has been flared in Nigeria since the 1950's.

When crude oil is extracted from onshore and offshore oil wells, it brings with it raw natural gas (eg CO2) to the surface. In Nigeria, a vast amount of this is burned directly into the atmosphere, resulting in the acidification of waterways and rainfall. This in turn damages vegetation, insect and animal life. Its effects are also associated with cancer, neurological defects, deformities in children, lung damage and skin problems. 

Many oil and gas companies argue that as transportation, pipelines and infrastructure are lacking, flaring gas as a waste product is the cheapest option. I see this argument as both uncivil and inhumane! What possible justification can be given for directly or indirectly causing life-threatening hazards? Financial implications? 

The best the federal government and Minister of Petroleum Resources have been doing since 1984 is to grant written permission to these companies to slowly kill our air, and   penalize with a fine, other companies that destroy our waterways, without giving them prior notice. Financial implications again! Over the years, they have forgotten that alternative options exist, for example, using this so called waste products as materials for the synthesis and production of plastics.

To be considered also are the present plights of the people of  Oloibiri (Bayelsa State) and Ogoni Kingdom (Rivers State) - I do remember them most solemnly. These are areas that have undergone devastating environmental degradation: presence of oil blowouts, spillages, oil slicks, and general pollution. Once rich rivers have become empty; fish, if any remain, die in their waters. Same is the case on the already infertile lands; rabbits  now hide in their burrows. Yet many cry, 'there is black gold, oil enriches'. How sad! Is it the oil that cannot be used by the Ogonis to anoint their foreheads, or the oil that the people of Oloibiri cannot use to fry their stew?

Do not get me wrong at this stage, I am not out for the oil companies, or negatively inclined. I just think that the above narratives have a voice- and this matters.

Of course, Nigeria and her federal government had taken some quite remarkable steps in promoting Climate Action and environmental sustainability, over the last few years. Key examples are the Great Green Wall Project, Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Climate Change Department, and the proposed Global Climate Change Commission.

At the end, the answer to the question lies with us. 

Is Nigeria really green?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christopher Oghenekevwe Oghenechovwen , a B.Tech student of Meteorology and Climate Science (FUTA), is a decolonized African, environmentalist and ready volunteer. He is 2013 Citizenship and Leadership Certified by CLTC, Nigerian Federal Ministry of Youth Development, a 2015 UNESCO & Athabasca University student on Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue, 2015 Senior Category Gold Winner of The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition, and youth correspondent at yourcommonwealth.org . His growing passions lie within the circle of Climate Action, Media and Information, IT, Youth Education and Leadership. Apart from volunteering with Earthplus, The Green Campus Initiative, and doing creative writing, Oghenekevwe loves to connect with people. Invite him for a healthy conversation via chrischovwen@gmail.com

REPOST: The Childless Woman (Spoken Word for the World)

In one of his thought provoking post on facebook, he wrote ‘Think Global Even When You Live Local’. Olayinka Ojo is undoubtedly one of the young promising Nigerian youths who believes geographical location is not a barrier to global impact. Based in the ancient city of Ondo, he rose to global prominence when he made it to the top 8 Spoken Word Artist in the world, who by their art is inspiring the world to take action on climate change.

In lieu of signing the climate change agreement in Paris, the United Nations asked poets all around the world to submit a poem for the Spoken Word For The World Competition. Olayinka Ojo made it as the only African to rank among the top 8.  His metaphoric expressions and futuristic projections will make anyone an addict to his poems. Because of his passion and belief in poetry as a tool for social change, he started the Purpose Driven Poets Movement, 12 seasoned poets who are committed to changing the world with their art. In search for these poets, he organised a spoken word audition that took place in Ondo Kingdom which received a lot of response.

He is working hand in hand with the Green Institute which was founded by an Ondo born woman, Adenike Akinsemolu in advocating for a green Nigeria. Visit www.greenthecampus.org, Olayinka Ojo is also a seasoned photographer whose works speaks volume, he is the convener of the Ondo 10hours photography seminar and workshop.He also co-anchors a radio program with Adenike on dexterity radio(south Africa) titled ‘Let’s go Green. Though he is not an environmentalist by certificate, he is undoubtedly wired with an environmental sense. He believes in humanity before the society, hence the reason for his global mentality. More of Olayinka Ojo’s work will in no time inspire the world. Don’t watch him, join in him in the process of changing the world in your own little way.

green-spoken-word

Article Source: Ekimogun Mirror

Green 101: The Three R's

We are at a critical juncture in shaping the future of this planet in terms of how we interact with its limited resources. Future generations will look back and either laud us for what we did, or chastise us for what we failed to do. Climate change is real. More importantly, we are increasingly more responsible for it. It’s not all gloom and doom though. There are things that we can still do to curb the debilitating effects of climate change. I fully recognize that we are limited in initiating a macro-level change in how we interact with our environment (that would have to come from the top of the pyramid), but there are little things that we can do to impact our local environments and hopefully inspire others in the community to do the same.

The Three R’s are often evoked in environmentalism. By doing our minimal best to follow these three principles, we can in some capacity impact our environment for the betterment of future generations.

REDUCE:

You’ve probably heard the phrase “man is an insatiable animal” in your economics class. It’s true and often, that insatiable nature leads to waste. Most people have no clue how much food and other resources they waste every day (really, check your local landfills to fully grasp this!). The problem then is that when these resources break down, they turn into harmful gases which then contribute to climate change. By buying less food and having a strict regimen for your menu, you can make a big difference to the environment. Be resourceful. Don’t immediately throw food products away simple based on the expiration label. Most of those dates are guesstimates and most products are still viable long after that. Also, donate foods you plan not to eat, freeze your vegetables and fruits, and when you do go the supermarket, try walking or riding a bicycle if you can.

REUSE

Reusing resources makes economic sense. It also has a lot of environmental benefits. Instead of throwing away your old materials, simply pass it on. Remember “one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure”. Do your best to reuse disposable cups and dishes after parties as opposed to throwing them away. Donate your clothes to charity or hand them down to your younger siblings and relatives (granted, they are sure to hate this idea). Again, be resourceful. Try finding new ways to use old products. And lastly, engage the community. You could try to collectively host a communal yard sale. Not only would this create a market for used products, you have the added benefit of bringing the community together for a justifiable cause.

RECYCLE

Recycle, recycle, and recycle. Don’t throw everything you use in the trash. Most products can usually be remade into the same thing or a similar product. In fact, most companies would even appreciate this as it reduces the cost of production. Do your best to buy products made from recycled materials. That sends a message to manufacturers that there is a market for such goods. Try to engage the community in a recycling drive to stress the importance of recycling. Label trash cans and recycling bins to make people more aware. You’ll be surprised how big these little efforts make. Materials that can be recycled include aluminum cans, cardboard papers, electronic equipment, glass, magazines, metal, newspapers, etc. Try to find resources with a comprehensive list of recyclable materials; you’ll be surprised at how much materials are needlessly wasted.

Notice how all these three distinct principle share a common theme. They all include efforts by YOU. Choosing to be a more responsible and environmentally conscious citizen solely relies on you acting- on you changing your habits. Curbing climate change is a communal effort. Try to involve your friends and relatives. Build a community out of it and be a force for change in your community. In the meantime, please follow the Green Institute on Facebook and check back regularly to keep up to date on the ever evolving world of Greening