In the days before the Climate Change Conference COPP 22, lovers of our home the earth went to town soliciting support for a 50% plan for mother earth. According to one of them Ian Keith of the Avaaz group, and from whom I have gotten inspiration for the title of this discussion, recent trends are pointing to the fact that our mismanagement of our lifestyles is taking a ‘chainsaw to the tree’ of our life. What I deduct from that quaint metaphor is that our life is a tree planted by the rivers of waters, which bringeth fruit irrespective of the times and seasons. But certain things we do or not do are killing this tree, and we must try to reflect on the metaphors that Keith and co are sending out. But in plain language, by the year 2020, two-thirds of all wild life would probably go extinct just the same way Dinosaurs did many years ago. Scientists insist that we are amid the next great extinction but that if we have the will, we will be able to put in place a plan B, to protect 50% of earth and heal the destruction that’s taken place over the years.
And as a matter of fact, that message, that Ian Keith and kin are trying to send us is closer home than we think. First it comes in the form of the forceful and illegal acquisition of land belonging to the people ala for development. A typical example took place in Okhurho clan in Oghara Delta State. The Navy, in what appears to be a legitimate quest for land forcefully annexed land for the erection of a barrack and shopping malls. But of course, this was against the fact that this is already occupied land teeming with flora and fauna, sustaining a vast network of living organisms, and providing employment to many indigenes. Taking down that network would mean inflicting incalculable damage to that ecosystem. But does anyone really care if it is ‘development’?
Recently when the World Economic Summit reported that four key Nigerian cities – Aba, Umuahia, Kaduna and Onitsha – are the most air polluted cities anywhere in the world, what was the response of our leaders at the executive and legislative levels? None that I recall, excerpt perhaps that our Environment Minister would be joining forces with the rest of the world in making a collective statement in the Netherlands soon. Our dear native land has continued with the noble drive to put corrupt persons in jail, and perhaps again this is at the expense of the health implications of that report for the rest of Nigerians. That report point to the importation of very low quality fuels being brought in to West Africa from Switzerland by certain Swiss Commodity traders, Trafigura, Mercuria and Co. It also suggests that what could be responsible for the air being polluted is in the high sulphur content of these dirty and dangerous fuels. Upon realizing this, Ghana has immediately insisted on low-sulphur content fuels, and with the assistance from NGOs in Switzerland the people of Ghana have sent a symbolic message back to Switzerland that it would no longer tolerate the importation of dirty fuels into Ghana.
Therefore, if our presence at the COPP 22 on November 2016 is not going to be perfunctory, Nigeria must take the lead in the pursuit of clean energy sources. Part of the decisions taken at the Marrakech COPP 22 included a plan on the Reduction of black carbon emissions through cleaner diesel fuels and vehicles and the development of black carbon inventories and projections. What is known about the Dirty Fuels being imported to West Africa from Switzerland is that apart from hurting our lungs and central nervous systems, these fuels hurt our cars and reduce their performance at optimum capacity.
A second action point taken by countries like Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, Guinea, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Rwanda, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay present at the Climate Change Summit included the decision to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations. As far as I can remember, Nigeria has flared gas as a by-product from oil and gas production. The penalty has always been a joke as well, compared to the damage which this flaring of gas brings with it. Year in year out, we come out with news penalties for oil prospecting countries which flout our gas flaring laws. Year in year out we set a benchmark to end the shameful flaring of gas, and year in year out we have merely slapped defaulting multinationals a fine on their wrists. If we succeed on insisting on a low-sulphur importation of fuel from Switzerland or anywhere in Europe for that matter, I do not see Nigeria getting out of the gas flaring conundrum recently. If we have always complained that we do not have requisite infrastructure to end gas flaring since the 50s, what guarantee do we have that we won’t just continue to mess up the plan to heal 50% of our home here on earth already suffering from acts of omission and commission by both Europe and Africa?
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku, communications manager, ANEEJ.