vendredi, 22 septembre 2017
 

Nigeria : Together We Can Stop Climate Change

Climate change is due to the activities of major companies, mainly those based in the industrialised countries. So in 2012, it was estimated that around two thirds of carbon dioxide emissions come from companies based in China, US, Europe, Japan and Russia.

Only 90 major companies are estimated to be responsible for nearly two thirds of climate change gas emissions. However, it is the poor across the world who are suffering the effects of climate change. The United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris, from 30 November 2015. The weekend before demonstrations are being held in many capital cities to demand their governments act to reduce climate change. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is organising a series of meetings on climate change with a demonstration at the end of November. This is important as Nigeria has been assessed as the 51st most vulnerable country and the 19th least ready country for climate change. We have shown above in the previous article that many Nigerians are already suffering from climate change – here we consider what is needed to reduce the impact on climate change of companies based in Nigeria.

Gas flaring

According to the World Bank, around one sixth of global gas flaring takes place in Nigeria – more than any other country except for Russia. So far around three quarters of the natural gas emitted in Nigeria has been flared causing great harm to local people, their environments and increasing the impact of climate change. This has reduced in recent years, but hundreds of gas flares continue to burn.

According to a website supported by the Federal Ministry of Environment - http://gasflaretracker.ng/ - the power generation potential of the flared gas is approximately equal to the current level of electricity generation. Over 75% of current power generation depending on natural gas. So, if the government was prepared to force the oil companies to do so, the amount of electricity generated could be doubled.

Three quarters of back-up generator use in sub-Saharan Africa is currently in Nigeria – creating more green-house gases. This could be significantly reduced if the oil companies stopped gas flaring and increased electricity generation. Gas flaring is supposed to be subject to fines, but December 2014 the Department for Petroleum Resources decided to drop all fines for gas flaring – giving up an income of around N200billion – about the annual budget for Kano State. Remember this when the government claims the need for austerity !

Cooking

About 60 per cent of Nigerians live literally in the dark without electricity and over 72 per cent depend on the traditional ‘three-stone fire’. According to the World Health Organization, smoke from these fires causes 95,000 deaths annually, ranking as the nation’s largest killer after malaria and HIV/AIDS. It also results in the cutting down of trees which is directly harmful to the environment and also contributes to global warming. More efficient stoves could save 80% of the trees, but these are expensive and not popular. The easiest option for many people is kerosene – where this is available. So fuel subsidy should be continued to improve peoples’ health and reduce climate change.

In the Niger Delta, small-scale gas-to-power generation could be used to provide power or cooking fuel to local communities. Giving local people a stake in continued oil production would reduce the harm they currently suffer from gas flaring and increase oil production. Interrupting this production (through damage to pipelines for illegal refining) would immediately impact on the power available to these communities.

Transport

In Britain about a third of carbon dioxide emissions are from transport. In Nigeria it is probably higher as so many of the vehicles are older ones from Europe. These emissions could be significantly reduced if the government provided an efficient and subsidised public transport system. As well as reducing the impact on climate change this would be greatly beneficial to many workers, reducing their travel time and saving considerable costs. The reduction is unnecessary travel by air and in large convoys by the corrupt politicians would also reduce the emissions which cause climate change.

Together we can stop climate change

These are just some of the ways in which the emission of climate change gases could be reduced – if the government was prepared to take action. Other examples include making use of methane from rubbish dumps and insulating new buildings to reduce the need for air conditioners. Ultimately, it is estimated that to reduce the impact of climate change, 80 per cent of fossil fuel reserves will have to stay in the ground. If oil production was reduced, especially in conjunction with other OPEC countries, the price would go up and oil producing countries could gain the same income from a reduce level of oil production. This is why Environmental Rights Action, for example, has been supporting local communities in their call for ’leaving oil in the soil’, and they are demanding that no new oil fields should be developed.

We need to be campaigning in our trade unions now to ensure that the UN Paris conference does not become another lost opportunity. It is great that the NLC is taking this issue seriously, it is the collective power of the working and popular classes that can force the oil and other companies to take action over climate change and immediately improve the lives of common people.

Drew Povey

 
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