Climate change is real. There is no doubt that the earth is becoming warmer than it was. This is not a conspiracy theory. Most people you meet will tell you that, there have been noticeable changes in the climatic conditions. Experts are warning that the consequences of global warming will be catastrophic. Coastal cities and towns are at greater risk because of rising sea levels. The entire globe including Nigeria is under serious threat of the dangers, which accompanies global warming. The time for action is now. There are little things we can start doing that can help to save the planet.
As a starting point, the Nigerian government, the Niger Delta states and various stake holders in the oil industry should dialogue with the oil companies in Nigeria to stop gas flaring and adopt green technology. As the world is preparing for the December 2009, Copenhagen conference on climate change and global warming. The Nigerian delegates to the conference, should take the issue of gas flaring to the conference and table it before the international community. The idea will be for the entire world to see how the western owned oil companies are both damaging the environment in Nigeria where they drill the oil, and also how their gas flaring is contributing to global warming.
At present, experts are of the opinion that about 60% of all carbon emissions emanate from the developed countries, while 40% comes from the developing countries. My argument has always been that, most multi national companies have production plants in the developing countries. These multi national companies are owned by the western countries, therefore who takes the blame for their gas emissions? The host country or the country of ownership where the profit goes to. Coca cola for example has plants in almost all the countries of the world. The greenhouse gases which coca cola plants emit from their plants in the developing countries should be the share of America’s greenhouse gas emission. This is because coca cola is owned by America. Going by my calculation, I believe that the percentage share of the greenhouse gases from developing nations will be lower than 40% as estimated by experts.
At present, the campaign to save the planet is gathering momentum in the western world. Just recently (October 11th 2009), about 40 Greenpeace environmental campaigners climbed on the roof of British Houses of Parliament in protest to call for action on climate change. Most companies in the west are seriously considering green technology. There have been serious campaigns, and sensitization of the people through various adverts on the need to go green. ExxonMobil (a major oil company) has an advert, part of which read thus, “ExxonMobil is working to help meet the world’s energy challenges, investing more the US$100 billion in additional supplies over the next four years, developing efficiency technology options like lithium-ion battery film to speed the adoption of hybrid vehicles, and testing new carbon capture technologies that could reduce emissions significantly”.
Germany’s Volkswagen is converting part of a car engine plant to produce green electrical generators. The government of Maldives held it’s first under water cabinet meeting, underneath the Indian Ocean to highlight the dangers of global warming. In Nottinghamshire United Kingdom, over a thousand activists protested against a coal energy plant, because coal is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emission.
I want to believe that this ExxonMobil pledge above will be applicable to their operations in the developing countries. At present, I think different rules apply to their operations in the developing countries and the developed nations. Foreign companies tend to be more accountable and responsible in their home countries. I am sure that gas flaring which the oil companies are still doing in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria will be highly resisted or not allowed in the European Union for example.
Prominent global personalities have given their support to saving the earth. Al gore (former American Vice President) has won a Noble Peace Prize for his efforts towards saving the planet. I did advise Atiku Abubakar (former Nigerian Vice President) in one of my articles titled;(Atiku Abubakar and His Nigerian Leadership Project) to follow the footsteps of Al gore. I was glad when I saw former President Shehu Shagari on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) news of Monday October 5th 2009 preaching about tree planting to caution desert encroachment. Ojo Maduekwe (current external affairs minister) had in the past asked Nigerians to ride bicycles. Both advices from ex president Shagari and Ojo Maduekwe are in line with saving the planet. However I will need to point out here, that Nigerian urban roads are not bicycle friendly and also not bicycle compliant.
Nigeria suffers from deforestation. People cut trees for different reasons. According to Marcio Santilli, (a Brazilian environmental rights activist) “tropical deforestation accounts for about a fifth of annual greenhouse gas emissions and it’s the largest source of emission in the developing countries”. Greenhouse gases are emitted when forests are burnt or logged. Mostly we cut trees and burn the forest for traditional farming purposes. We also use the trees for furniture making and for cooking. This method might be too difficult to stop. What I will add is that, we should start planting trees. For every one tree we cut down, let’s plant at lease three trees for replacement.
Most trees we are cutting today were planted by our great grand fathers, grand fathers and our fathers. It will be cruelty on our part if we fail to plant trees for our children, having used the ones planted by our grand fathers and great grand fathers. If for any reasons (for example people too busy at their offices or Nigerians in Diaspora) we cannot plant a tree, let’s sponsor someone to plant on our behalf. We owe ourselves this responsibility. We do not need the government or the international community to do this for us. Tree planting should be so easy for us to do. Tree planting/saving the planet contradicts what the late musician (Oliver de Coque) sang in one of his songs that, tenants should not plant flower when they are renting a house. I suggest a daily tree planting routine. Besides we owe our lives to nature and our environment. Ironically, the colour of our national flag is green white and green, which should encourage us to be a greener nation.
As a recommendation for going green, please let companies, banks, the government and other establishments in Nigeria send less paper work and do more emailing or telephoning/sms. This has a small way of saving the planet. Nigerians should start using energy saving bulbs. Also we should form the habit of switching off all electrical appliances and bulbs when not in use, for example leaving the electric bulbs/lights on during day time should be stopped. It’s a very common practice for you to see electric bulbs switched on during the day time. During my last visit to Nigeria (January 2009), my folks were laughing at me when I was busy switching off all lights during the day. The Federal Road Safety Commission owe Nigerians a duty to come up with vehicle carbon emission level permissible on Nigerian roads. May God bless Nigeria.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK