By UDEME CLEMENT
Dr. Felix Obada is Group Managing Director of Global Biofuels Limited, an indigenous company handling ethanol project in Nigeria. He speaks in this interview on global warming and how Nigeria can reduce carbon emission from its environment
WORLD leaders met recently at Copenhagen Denmark to proffer solutions to global warming, the outcome is said to be unfavorable, can you give us your own perspectives?
The outcome of Copenhagen 2009 is not as bad as people tend to portray it. We heard that developing economies stand to benefit from global financial assistance to the tune of $30billion yearly to mitigate the harmful effects of global warming from now to year 2012.
This will increase to US$100 billion between 2013 through 20025. I cannot with all sense of responsibility condemn such an outcome. What the developed economies such as the US, Japan, UK, Germany and France appear to be demanding is absolute transparency on all issues involving global warming.
They want each country to prove that what they are doing to reduce their carbon emission is sustainable and not just a one-off solution. If a country like Nigeria says she is ready to reduce her carbon footprint by XYZ amount on annual basis, it only makes sense to allow the established organs to transparently determine that this is indeed happening, safely and in a sustainable manner. I cannot fault the argument of the developed economies.
What is Nigeriaâ€™s stake in all of these, and what benefits would it bring to the economy?
From all available reports, Nigeria must have gone to Copenhagen mainly to present a charter of demands. There is nothing wrong in this approach parse but it would have been better if we were ready with facts and figures on our own carbon emissions and what we are doing as a nation to reduce it. Nothing stopped us from showing graphic details of what global warming has done to our country and its people.
Countries like Brazil, South Africa, India and China teamed up at Copenhagen and successfully frustrated what would have otherwise turned out to be a historic global agreement on Climate change.
I expected Nigeria to rally other developing nations in Africa to act as a counter- force, but it never happened. Whether we believe it or not, Nigeria is not at the same level of development as China, Brazil, India or South Africa. Our priorities are different, so also are our issues. None of those countries suffer as much as Nigeria from the harmful effects of climate change.
Beside, we are too much in a haste to catch up with the rest of the world and cannot therefore afford to toy with global financial support at this stage. Given another opportunity however, I am sure Nigeria will do better.
What must Nigeria now do to position itself to receive this global support?
There is no denying the fact that Nigeria suffers much more from the devastating effects of global warming than any other country on this planet earth. Approximately 15 million Nigerians have been displaced by desertification alone.
Nearly 25 percent of farmlands in the northernmost part of Nigeria has been destroyed by sand dunes. Whole communities in the South East of Nigeria are daily threatened by gully erosion. Rise in sea level is threatening both Ikoyi and Victoria Island. The volume of water in Lake Chad today is less than 15per cent of its original size. Some of these effects are irreversible and call for massive global support.
These are just few of the facts we can codify and present to the world body. We can even strengthen our case further by showcasing what we are doing or preparing to do as a nation to reduce our carbon footprint. I am aware that the Nigerian delegation talked about stopping gas. But gas flaring only contributes a third of our carbon emission.
Our heavy and light vehicles contribute a lot, so also are the Okadas and ubiquitous generators. What are we doing about those? If we fail to address these issues correctly, Brazil, India, China and South Africa will consume all the benefits accruable to the developing economies.
What is the government of Nigeria doing to address this situation?
I am aware that government is doing a number of things to address the situation. Take gas flaring for example; government has developed a Gas Masterplan which, if properly implemented, will drastically reduce our carbon emission. I am also aware that the Ministry of petroleum Resources and NNPC are working hard to seed the biofuels sector for transport and household consumption. The Ministry of Environment has also established a Special Climate Change Unit to work in this area as well. But these efforts need proper co-ordination.
Government alone cannot do everything. The Organised Private Sector (OPS) is helping out in their own little way. They are investing their hard earned resources to develop a green economy for Nigeria. They even appear to be moving much faster than the government. You can find the Nigerian OPS for example in the biofuels, wind, solar, biomass and hydro sectors with little or no assistance from government and the banks.
The OPS have organized themselves into a Peer Review Grouping known as the Green Energy Society of Nigeria (GESON) for short. GESON is the prime mover of all green energy initiatives in Nigeria.
Can you tell us more about the Green Energy Society of Nigeria?
GESON is the umbrella body of all green energy producers in Nigeria. You will be amazed to learn how much Nigerians have embraced green energy development despite the harsh economic reality. GESON provides assistance to new comers and helps the older ones network with other green institutions of co-ordinate status across the globe.
GESON had hitherito conducted their activities outside the purview of the public, but with world attention presently focused on green developments now more than ever before, the Association will have no other alternative than to come out into the open arena.
What are the challenges facing the development of Nigeriaâ€™s green economy?
Green energy developers in Nigeria are mostly constrained by lack of funds. You are aware that Nigerian banks no longer lend money even to the real sectors of the economy. That is one huge challenge. Secondly, there is no legislative support yet to guide the seeding of the sector. Now that global support is coming into the sector, we expect a change of attitude.