ERA backs energy transition, compensation for Ogonis

EnergyIn this speech presented at the 8th National Environment Congress, recently, the Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, canvassed for adequate compensation from the UN Green Climate Fund.

TWENTY years after Ken Saro Wiwa, Niger Delta communities continue to face ecocide as a result of reckless extraction of fossil fuel. Farmlands are destroyed, the waters, soil and air are polluted. Not only Ogoni, but the entire Nigerian environment is battered, bruised, and wrecked largely as a result of oil and gas extraction.

The overarching question before us is whether or not a zero carbon development model is possible at both national and global levels. With frequent oil spills and gas flaring Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy seems to suggest the contrary. Across Europe, America, China, renewed investment in clean energy systems are currently on-going.

Indeed, Science alerts us to the catastrophic impacts of climate change due to carbon emissions into the atmosphere leading to rising global temperature and extreme weather patterns. The energy sector takes the lead in ruining the earth and accounting for 35per cent of GHG emissions from fossil fuels. On a global scale, rising energy consumption is leading to renewed aggressive extraction of natural resources especially from Africa to meet increasing demand in North America, Europe and the BRICS countries namely: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The African continent needs to wean itself from the imposed historical “Energy Colonialism Syndrome” where gigantic infrastructure, huge capital and personnel are emblems of development. For the Africa continent the energy challenge remains a lack of vision to achieve the right energy mix from renewable sources. This Congress aligns with the global coalition against dirty energy to strongly resist any form of dirty energy expansion to nuclear, coal, shale gas and fracking, tar sands oil, and energy from biofuels because of their deleterious consequences on mother earth. While we resist all false solutions such as biofuels to the global energy deficit we support a move towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy. Biofuels or the production of energy from food sources means that energy sources are competing for farmlands and food thus aggravating food deficits, hunger and impoverishment in developing countries.

Notwithstanding the federal government recent gesture indicating a strong political will, and the promise of US$10m to kick-start the clean up process, so far, with the non-implementation of the UNEP report recommendations the Ogonis have been shortchanged and justice denied.

The struggle of the Ogonis and the legacy of Saro Wiwa remains for all people involved in environmental justice struggles both as a signal for hope and victory, and as an emblem of resistance ever staged against multinational corporations on a global scale in both intensity and spread. With the avoidance of potential carbon emissions into the atmosphere by the non-extraction, the Ogonis deserves fair and adequate compensation from the UN Green Climate Fund. To reiterate, we say no to dirty energy. Rather, we support renewable energy transition as a response to climate change.

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