Ugo Aliogo examines the economic and environmental effects of the global energy crisis on Nigeria, which experts have identified as rising diesel prices, illegal bunkering, illegal refining, deforestation, among others
The global energy crisis of 2021-2022 is the latest in a series of cyclical energy shortages experienced over the past 50 years. The energy crisis has had repercussions on the economy and the environment. Some of the impacts include increased greenhouse gas emissions, environmental degradation for timber, global warming, air pollution and other biodiversity loss. Gas prices in Europe are at record highs, driving up electricity prices by 200%. In Spain, electricity prices have tripled and the government has announced measures to cap energy prices. France and Italy have promised payments to help the poorest households.
Energy crisis in Africa
According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), Africa is one of the regions most affected by climate change, even though it contributed only 4% of global carbon dioxide emissions. carbon (CO2) in 2019.
The 2021 Global Climate Risk Index suggested that half of the 10 countries most affected by extreme weather in 2019 are located in Africa.
The report also notes that Africa is endowed with significant fossil fuel resources, including oil and gas which it exports globally, therefore any disruption in global energy markets will undoubtedly have an impact on Africa. Income does not translate.
Reports have revealed that in Nigeria, the rise in international natural gas prices has caused the price of cooking gas to increase by more than 100% in 2021, making it too expensive for some households, therefore, many households are falling back on firewood and charcoal, which they consider as cheaper alternatives.
The report states that the use of chemicals and fuels in factories leads to increased air and water pollution and increased use of fossil fuels, adding that the process of harvesting fuels from the ground, such as mining and refining, also leads to environmental pollution.
The research found that 90% of West Africa’s forest cover has been lost over the past 100 years. He also added that Nigeria loses around 350,000 hectares of land every year to desertification. 63.83% (15 States) of the total territory are affected by desertification. He also noted that the annual rate of deforestation in Nigeria is 3.5%, or about 350,000 to 400,000 hectares per year.
The role of NGOs
The energy crisis and environmental sustainability have become serious concerns not only for countries, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), but also for faith-based organizations. The argument is that all hands must be on deck in finding answers to these problems facing the earth. Environmentalists have also argued that humanity has not been fair in its treatment of nature and the environment.
It has also been observed that the current patterns of production and consumption are unsustainable and responsible for the complex problems facing the environment. There is also an appreciable loss of biodiversity and climate change which is already clearly showing disastrous effects on our lives.
As part of its contribution to solving the problem, the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos recently organized a conference on the theme: “Listening and Journeying Together: Energy Crisis and Sustainable Living for Church and State.”
The conference was another Church response to Pope Francis’ appeal that he made seven years ago when he issued his encyclical Laudato SI’ on the care of our common home.
Speaking at the conference, the Archbishop of Lagos, Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins said that climate change has manifested itself in varied and unprecedented ways; heat waves that led to wildfires devastating huge tracts of land; desertification; rising sea levels leading to destructive flooding and landslides; chemical and technological pollution leading to loss of biodiversity and destruction of the ecosystem.
He said the world is faced with the results of our collective and individual lifestyles and habits which lead to the depletion of animal and plant species and the pollution of the earth, turning it into what the pope calls a heap of ‘refuse.
“All of these and many more impact us not only as individuals, but also as interconnected people of the world, so that we can only hear and feel the cry of the extremely poor people who are forced to migrate but their land cannot support them or because of conflicts that arise from the effects of climate change on their environment,” he said.
The Archbishop further explained that environmental pollution leading to lack of clean water, loss of income and resulting susceptibility to disease has made the cry of the poor louder and more widespread with the poor health that resulting.
He argued that the global COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the world to a standstill, has revealed that the whole world is interdependent more than is probably thought, therefore noted that there is a need for effective cooperation and collaboration to address sustainability issues. of the earth, “and to combat extreme poverty in our world, including the provision of health care facilities”.
He noted that as the COVID 19 crisis began to abate, the world was facing other crises that also had local and global dimensions such as the energy crisis and the impending food crisis, which he noted. stated that the impact of these crises would be enormous and unimaginable. if we don’t take the necessary action now.
As part of the Lagos State Government’s efforts to do its part in addressing the energy crisis and promoting environmental sustainability, the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, speaking at the conference, the Ministry of Health said all new models for clinics, hospitals and medical facilities according to the state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, were to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings.
He also said state buildings are expected to have a low carbon footprint by using at least 50% less energy, adding that new hospitals are all designed to be cool, naturally ventilated, naturally lit and caring. infection control and prevention.
According to him, “we have just started to deploy the design plans, we have started to build the general hospitals; New Massey Street General Hospital is the low carbon facility. The design of our primary healthcare clinics has been completed and we are about to start building new clinics which will all be naturally ventilated, very cool and use lots of natural light and less dependent on generator and fuels. We are going to install solar panels on the roof. Thus, we are reducing the carbon footprint of our medical facilities and this is already happening in other government agencies.
Abayomi further explained that the state government is committed to reducing the carbon footprint, stating that as part of efforts to promote environmental protection and tree planting, parks and gardens of Lagos State (Laspark) through the Ministry of Environment, the state government has implemented a one health paradigm in Lagos which means they do not look at health human beings in isolation, but also in the context of a healthy environment and the healthy food we eat.
Continuing, Abayomi said, “Pillar 2 is health and environment, and it is a relationship between the Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Land Use Planning and the Ministry of Justice to ensure as we look at the health of Lagos State, which includes us as human beings. beings. When you talk about the health of Lagos State, you are not just talking about human health, you are talking about the environment, agriculture and the health of the physical layout of Lagos State so that our residents are not stressed by long lines of traffic, pollution and other things.
Mitigation and adaptation
Abayomi hinted that in line with mitigation and adaptation, the state is making efforts to ensure that they use public transport to reduce their contribution to greenhouse gases.
He said: “Adaptation is when climate change is upon us, are we going to wait for the Atlantic Ocean to destroy our homes? Are we going to wait for the floods to destroy buildings and for the floods to cause a cholera epidemic? so by adapting we are now moving into an environment where climate change is having a significant impact on our lives and as a government we must preserve lives and people. We also make sure to carry out disease surveillance when it rains and there is flooding. We are more prone to outbreaks of cholera and dysentery. We ensure that our hospital can accommodate sick people.
“We need facilities where we can absorb a lot of patients at the same time. These are adaptation measures put in place by the government and what is most important is that we will address this mitigation by not contributing greenhouse gases which will further aggravate the global situation around climate change” , said Abayomi.
Improve air quality
On behalf of Lagos State, the state government is committed to improving air quality (40ug/m3 VS 10). The state government recently signed the C40 Air Quality Declaration recognizing clean air as a human right.
The goal for the state is that if it meets the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality target, it could avert 2,800 deaths, 155,000 hospitalizations and save up to at $2.3 billion a year. The state could also prevent 2,300 cases of asthma in a year by adhering to WHO air quality guidelines. It could also save around $200 million a year.
Also speaking at the conference, the Chief Executive of the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF), Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano revealed that the devastation of the land, the level of deforestation and the challenge of climate change are issues which must be discussed by all, with the intention of providing solutions and acting in the direction of stopping and reversing the level of damage.
He said everyone should recognize that they have contributed to the global environmental challenges facing the world today, adding that “where we are today is the result of what we have done, done or have not done for the environment”.