Sunday, December 8, 2013

Working towards Alternative Energy

Advocates of alternative energy have sustained that on a global rate, increasing energy consumption is connected to the renewed hostile extraction of natural resources from Africa to reach the target increasing demand in North America, Europe and the BRICS countries namely: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

They compete that despite of the growing demand for energy, more than 1.6 billion people has no electricity and about 2.4 rely only on fuel wood.  According to the Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Ojo, the event was conceived to deepen understanding of energy issues.  It is the effort to find substitute to this irregularity that the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) working in concert with over 50 civil societies, community groups and energy experts organized the Africa Alternative Energy Transition forum recently.

Ojo said the event that attracted participants from across Africa was organised to coincide with the Global Month of Action on Energy by a coalition of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Actionaid, International Rivers,, and some other international Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) to reclaim power by resisting dirty and harmful energy and affirming the need for transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.

He said in Nigeria, about 70 percent of the population depend solely on fuel wood for energy, a development, which has put the country in the ranking of the countries with the highest deforestation rate.  He stated that the country is said to be losing 3.5 percent of her forest annually.

“The rising energy demand is also leading to violent resource conflicts at the site of extraction. The energy expansions to dirty energy frontiers and technologies such as coal, shale gas fracking, or energy from biofuels have deleterious consequences on farmers and fragile ecosystems.
“It is also important to note that the newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment report emphasises that climate change and the many environmental catastrophe will likely increase due to anthropogenic causes releasing GHGs into the atmosphere that is leading to global warming and extreme weather conditions.

The meaning of this would be that the ecological problems will probably be happening at greater frequency and intensity and with unknown overwhelming impact except there will be actions to lessen the impact.  The energy sector takes the lead in ruining the earth and accounting for 35 percent of human GHG emissions, Ojo stated.
He said while the groups would resist all false solutions to the global energy deficit, they support a move towards renewable energy sources, adding: “There cannot be any option to a quicker energy transition from fossil fuels to a low carbon economy that is 100 percent renewable sources by 2020. The trade in carbon is a false solution because it provides warped incentives for industry to continue to pollute rather than cut emissions at source.”

He stated the groups’ position: “We want to use this medium to demand that governments in Africa wean themselves of 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. For example, the Nigerian energy policy is on a wrong footing by cataloguing textbook sources of energy such as nuclear, oil and gas, heavy oil such as tar sands, while failing to prioritise renewable energy sources and setting targets for the future energy transition.

“We reiterate our argument that the World Bank and other financial institutions still play the double game of claiming to promote so-called energy solutions while investing heavily in dirty energy projects that strip the poor from access to energy and with adverse effects on energy access in Africa.”

A $12 billion loan for the Trans-Sahara gas pipeline project was condemned, the federal government’s attempt to secure from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group by Ojo.  He said the project which prioritises gas exploitation and supply mainly for export rather than meet local demand, is expected to secure loans for the construction of a gas pipeline infrastructure that would deliver natural gas sourced from Nigeria through the Sahara desert to Algeria and then Europe.

“The World Bank-funded West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) project is a perfect example of such projects that are touted as solutions to the energy deficit on the continent that have ended up robbing the people of their natural resources, lands, livelihoods and peace. Benefits that the project promoters promised like employment and social amenities have been shown to be fallacy as little or no benefits have accrued from the project,” he added.

Member at the workshop observed that present energy policies in Africa mirrored in astronomically high tariff carry on to dishearten adoption of the several available alternative energy sources open to communities, particularly rural women who can barely afford the costs.

Energy policy and poverty in Africa be addressed by the prioritisation of national and community energy needs over global economic model that promotes export of natural resources and to the detriment of local markets; African governments promote decentralised alternative energy with a focus on renewable were just fraction of the demands of the group are that.  African governments must augment support for energy models that are cooperative and friendly to the community and environment.

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