Global Rights organized a town hall meeting, which brought together stakeholders in Nigeria’s energy sector, including government, coal mining companies & their host communities, the media and civil society. The meeting was for a debate on coal in Nigeria’s energy mix considering the challenges the country suffers from energy deficit that is negatively affecting its socio-economic development and practically every other part of its national life. Because energy sources in Nigeria can no longer meet demand, the Federal Government, therefore proposed alongside with other sources to meet 30% of Nigeria’s energy local need demand from coal energy without considering the implication of utilizing coal as a source of energy in Nigeria.
Key Highlights from the Meeting:
Looking at an overview of global trend on coal energy, coal was accountable for emitting 14.2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (C02). That is 44% of all energy associated carbon dioxide emissions and more than one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, no other energy source other than coal contributes as much greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, digging up coal to generate electricity stirs out emissions that escalate greenhouse effect and because coal is pure carbon, it is one of the enormous sources of climate change. However, coal is burned to manufacture heat and electricity that emits a lot of CO2 along with some quantities of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20). (Friends of the Earth International, COAl ATLAS 2015).
Usually, producing electricity from coal is harmful to the climate, most gas powered plants releases only half as much as carbon dioxide as modern coal-fired power stations. This is why most coal mining companies in advanced countries are shutting down because of the enormous effect it has on the environment and health of the people which in turn will adversely affect sustainable development.
(Okobo Community Traditional Rulers explaining the ordeal they are facing)
Nigeria really need to consider the concept of trade-off, looking at the cost of ownership which covers short term benefit and long term cost. As a coal mining company in Okobo community in Kogi State is already affecting the people and their sources of livelihood.
Nigeria’s proposed utilization of 30% of coal is definitely going to jeopardize our commitment to the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement. Focusing on coal as energy source will only give us short term benefit and long term cost, as a country we should look at other sources of energy which will benefit us more in the long run.
In addition, the Federal government of Nigeria could consider cleaner alternatives to coal such as windmill energy: which is dependent on available wind, has no impact on landscape and no emission of carbon dioxide, Biomass energy: from wood, crops, landfill gas, alcohol fuels and garbage. By using biomass in power production instead of fossil fuel, C02 emissions are significantly reduced. Hydro power plants have a long economic life with no fuel cost and lastly solar energy which is the fastest growing renewable energy source. All these are cleaner and achievable sources of energy which we could take as a country to meet our energy demand.
SAY NO TO COAL…
Climate change is a global issue that does not respect national border. Looking at the science behind climate change, we are not referring to weather; weather and climate change are not the same thing. Weather can change from season to season, even hour to hour and sometimes when you least expect it. In other words, weather reflects short-term conditions in the atmosphere while climate change on the other hand, refers to the average temperature and precipitation rates over a long period of time.
It was a wonderful time as several civil societies met at the Heinrich Boll Hall, Abuja to look at the way forward, since climate change has become an essential part of reality. Global warming is already having severe impact on our socio-economic development, human health, food, wildlife and ecosystems more than we can imagine. Furthermore, The Paris Agreement that was adopted last year during COP21 to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change comprises a landslide agreement in global efforts to mitigate climate change and also prepare countries through adaptive actions to reduce global warming below 20c.
WHAT NIGERIA IS DOING TO ADDRESS THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
The acting Director, Department of Climate Change of Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr. Peter Tarfa, gave a brief overview of what the Nigerian Government is doing to reduce the impact of climate change. He stated that government priority is on the issue of how to adapt to climate change impact, reduce deforestation and also create policy and strategies to help in reducing effect of climate change. National adaptation plan has been mapped out and the issues of capacity building, finance have been captured in the plan. However, Nigeria will observe annual knowledge fare on climate change by bringing expertise together with a theme that affect Nigeria; whereby everyone will bring out what they are doing in respect of climate change thereafter all will be put together to see how it can be used to address the issue.
In addition, government will also address the issues of assessing the global climate finance fund from international partners. In this regards, the Ministry of Environment climate finance desk have been given two years mandate to triple assess to global climate funds. However, Nigeria’s national climate policy requires policy intervention, it is due for review because it does not have current capacity to carry out the emerged climate change issues.
WHAT TO DO WITH PARIS AGREEMENT
After the ratification of the Paris Agreement it became a commitment. The five major areas that are Nigeria’s priority are power, oil & gas, transportation, agriculture, and industry. Nigeria’s priority in COP22 are assessing the global climate finance, let the framework be available, to get international funding to loss and damages e.g. flooding and elements for Paris Agreement to be dished out. As we all know, the Minister of Environment mandate is to empower people, tackle climate change and protect the environment.
The civil society mapping forum held on October 21, 2016 at Bolton White Hotel, Abuja, organized by DFID (PERL), basically brought civil society groups from various part of the country together to deliberate and share experiences of what they do and how they can work with other society groups that have the same thematic work area. To this effect, various civil society organizations were in attendance including Connected Development (CODE).
PERL is about service delivery and is divided into three aspects which are as follows: ARC work with government, ECP engage citizen with government and LEAP looks at the lessons from ECP to enable government use the lesson to achieve a goal.
Furthermore, there was a group interactive session that enables civil society groups to share what they do in details and the breakout sessions covering thematic areas such as good governance, corruption, budget, education, health, environment, agriculture using various approach like advocacy capacity building, publicity, research and to mention by a few, enable groups to identify and network with groups that have same objectives. In addition, effective ways for citizens to engage with government was suggested using the Freedom of Information Act to enable citizens hold government accountable and to promote transparency.