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Group call for global shift from fossil fuel dependency to renewable sources

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The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has underscored the urgent need for a global shift from fossil fuel dependency to renewable sources of energy as a response to curbing climate change and its devastating impact.

This call was made by ERA/FoEN at its 7th National Environment Consultation (NEC) which had as theme Climate Change and Energy Democracy.

ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Ojo said that like previous NECs, the 7th edition highlighted the importance of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment report which achieved 95 per cent consensus that the reality of climate change can no longer be denied.

The report emphasizes that climate change impacts will likely increase due to anthropogenic causes in releasing GHGs into the atmosphere. This is seen as the reason behind rising global temperatures, extreme weather conditions such as sea level rise, hurricanes, flooding and heatwaves that have claimed tens of thousands of lives and destroyed traditional livelihood sources.

Ojo explained that in Nigeria farmers are no longer able to predict accurately planting seasons due to changes in weather pattern in terms of rainfall seasonality and variability and this has affected planting seasons and fruit trees, posing serious threat to food security and likely food deficits in a country where farmers lack any form of welfare and insurance.

He insisted that the energy sector takes the lead in ruining the earth and accounting for 35 per cent of GHG emissions from fossil fuels and that 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.

Ojo noted that there is a dichotomy in the way energy is perceived in the global north and south, adding that on the one hand, energy security for the north means continuous flow of raw materials which often means militarization of pipelines and drilling behind military shields. On the other hand, energy security means dispossession, poverty, violence, ecocide and crime against humanity at the sites of extraction.

He said ERA/FoEN advocates the need for the Africa continent to wean itself from the imposed historical ?Energy Colonialism Syndrome? where gigantic infrastructure, huge capital and personnel are emblems of development.

?For the African continent the energy challenge remains a lack of vision to achieve the right energy mix from renewable sources. We strongly resist any form of dirty energy expansion to nuclear, coal, shale gas fracking, tar sands oil, and energy from biofuels because of their deleterious consequences on farmers and fragile ecosystems. 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 Africa.?

Extractives thrive on subsidies. The World Bank and other financial institutions and national governments must eliminate incentives in loans and subsidies promoting extractive activities. Instead, focus should be on investment in renewable energy research, green technology, subsidies and zero tariffs to promote non-grid systems. An Energy Democracy is expedient. It should be  decentralized, create green jobs, and in ways that production and supply chain are managed by the communities themselves rather than monopolistic entities.

According to him, it is on the premise of the myriad issues that the conference participants made up of energy advocates, development practitioners, academia, government officials, community representatives, civil society groups from within and outside Nigeria, came together to share experiences and analyze the concept of climate change and energy democracy and its relevance for a sustainable future.

The NEC outcome is expected to be a practical roadmap towards global energy transition and will feed directly into the Earth Summit negotiations especially the Lima 2014 and Paris 2015 conference of parties.

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