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Climate change has another side to it, a side of opportunity —ICEED boss

By EBELE ORAKPO
IN every negative situation, there is always something positive to gain from it. Climate change, which usually refers to changes in modern climate, has become a very big issue with world governments, especially in the developed world.

Unfortunately, everyone is being affected one way or the other because some natural disasters witnessed round the globe are a result of global warming. It was, thee

Climate
Climate

refore, one of the main issues discussed at the recently concluded 2009 edition of the G8 Summit. As a matter of fact, the venue of the summit, L’Aquila, Italy, according to organisers, was chosen “to show solidarity with the people of Abruzzo after the recent terrible earthquake and with anyone suffering as a result of a natural disaster anywhere in the world.”

Scientists warn that there is no time to waste – that if governments don’t act now, we risk catastrophic threats from run-away global warming. Consequently, an organisation to be known as the Global Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Institute was launched during the summit.

The idea of the institute to be hosted in Australia “is to promote the construction of structures and technologies throughout the world capable of turning harmful emissions into resources,” and will have all the G8 member-countries as founder members.

To create awareness amongst Nigerians on what they stand to gain from this, the International Centre for Energy, Environment & Development/Nigeria Climate Action Network (ICEED/NCAN) organised a one day forum with the theme: Business Roundtable on Climate Change Sunday in Lagos. At the end of the meeting, Sunday Vanguard Business had a chat with the director, ICEED/NCAN, Ewah Eleri. Excerpts:

WHAT was this Climate Change Business Forum all about?
What we have set out to do is to be able to establish a platform for business, to engage on issues of climate change because traditionally, people have been looking at climate change in terms of challenges, of desertification, of flood, of gully erosion, of problem with sea level rise in Lagos and the Niger-Delta, but climate change has another side to it.

It has a side of opportunity. Not only those ecological challenges but economic opportunities. It gives us an opportunity to begin to address the issues of energy in our society. Nigeria has no bigger problem today to the economy than the issue of having access to energy services. Now, the situation is such that for hydro power, we are underutilising our potentials. We are using about 10 per cent of our total hydro power resources. In terms of climate change, hydro power is good because it releases low emission into the atmosphere. This creates opportunities for us to look at those regulatory issues that prevent power plants from being built.

Over the past 20 years, we have not built any hydro power plant in this country so climate change presents an opportunity where we begin to address those policy and regulatory issues on why this is not happening. We can look at the whole area of energy efficiency and look at the issue of gas flaring in Nigeria because today, we are blowing into the atmosphere enough energy to meet entire energy needs of Nigerians, including may be the rest of West Africa.

What it’s doing is that it’s not only denying us an opportunity to provide vital energy services for our economy but also it’s constituting a nuisance to the atmosphere. So, these are lost opportunities in terms of economic growth and job creation that addresses poverty and the issue of global warming. So what we are highlighting in this meeting is the opportunity that business has, to be able to invest in green house gas emissions through gas flaring, to be able to address opportunities for investing in clean energy and also the carbon market. We have barely scratched the surface of the carbon market. There are only two registered projects in a portfolio of over US$125 billion so we have this reservoir of opportunities.

We should not forget the whole issue of providing insurance cover for farmers and all those who are dependent on rain-fed agriculture but there is no micro insurance cover anywhere in Nigeria to be able to hedge the risks, so even though there is an expansion in micro finance in the country, the other side of the finance industry for people who are unbanked, who are under-insured, the risk is not being covered so we need to stimulate interest in the insurance industry so that we can build a micro insurance portfolio for farmers in Nigeria who are dependent on rainfall. So because of these and many more issues, we brought the private sector together to talk about the opportunities in climate change and also to build a platform, a permanent kind of network for governments to interface and engage with private sector which means that we can begin to have a private sector lobby to engage government on the energy sector, on clean energy, on carbon finance, micro finance and all that.

How much does Nigeria contribute to global  warming?
Nigeria contributes little to global warming but on a per capita basis, however, the sum total is quite significant because of the kind of emission that is coming from gas flaring in the Niger-Delta. It is a nuisance to our country, it is a nuisance to the world. Nigeria has that big problem. But I think the most important thing is that we can turn around this kind of emission to new opportunities for investments.
Is climate change basically from carbon  emission?

Yes, mostly from carbon emission because we have overloaded the atmosphere with damaging gases. We have put in so much from industrialisation. The gases that nature meant to protect us from the radiation of the sun have been destroyed because we have put in so much from industrialisation, gas flaring, transportation, deforestation and other areas so there is an overload of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. What it does is that it doesn’t allow heat to escape the way it used to escape.



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