“The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”
— Pope John Paul II
The European Union has demonstrated a strong commitment to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals both in its internal policies and engagements with its partners across the world. These goals centre on making the world a better place with improved quality of living by 2030. Among these goals is climate action, affordable and clean energy. These are issues which can be combated with renewable energy. To this end, the EU has been in the forefront of efforts to drive the adoption renewable as the major source of energy. It is this idea that informed its renewable energy initiatives in Nigeria.
The world Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI 2015) lists Nigeria as one of the top 10 most vulnerable countries. Nigeria is gravely affected by the effects of climate change arising from harmful environmental practices, most of which are as a result of ignorance and a lack of rigid environmental policies. The country also lacks access to sustainable and renewable energy.
In 2015, Nigeria ratified the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and signed the Paris Agreements on Climate Change in 2017. The country has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gases emission from between 20% to 45%, by 2030.
Recognising the threat posed by the energy sector to our environment, and its larger contribution to climate change, Nigeria is committed to providing affordable and reliable energy for all by 2030; increase the share of renewables in its national energy mix to 30% and also to increase the generation capacity to 30 GW in a bid to improve energy efficiency in consumption.
With affordable energy, economic activities will pick up in villages and rural communities, as small businesses will thrive, providing better income for the owners. Healthcare facilities will run better and be able to provide better services.
To help achieve these goals, the European Union has embarked on a number of events which aim to raise awareness on the importance of renewable energy; highlight its numerous initiatives to promote environmental sustainability; and strengthen its relations with Nigeria;.
In one of these initiatives, the European Union partnered with UNICEF to provide solar-driven Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in Riyom Local Government of Plateau state. These facilities, which are already commissioned, give about 4,500 inhabitants of the town access to clean drinking water and better sanitation and hygiene.
It is a known fact the one of the challenges that that affect the smooth running businesses in the country is an energy sector that is unreliable at best. However, with improved access to affordable renewable energy, businesses will can cut costs and operate increase their profitability.
In Nigeria, this year’s Europe Day celebration themed ‘Building a Sustainable Future Together’ aimed at celebrating the EU’s efforts towards mitigating the effects of climate change through the use of alternative power sources. The event also aimed at educating stakeholders and the general public on the negative effects of certain practices on our climate, highlighting projects that enhance environmental sustainability and the renewable energy sector. In attendance were dignitaries and stakeholders.
The European Union also took its campaign to Lagos, where it hosted a Green Event themed ‘Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Future’. In attendance were stakeholders from different sectors, including students, businesses and the diplomatic community.
The Head of the EU Delegation in Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, stressed the benefits of renewable energy, underlining it as a reliable solution to Nigeria’s electricity problem. According to him, renewable energy would not only provide clean and affordable energy but also boost the industrial sector and provide jobs. He noted that solving the challenge posed by climate change is a collective effort, and should not to be left to the government alone. Nigeria’s energy sector is also being funded by the EU to the tune of €165 million, in order to expand access to over 90 million Nigerians and business owners without access to energy.
Children are our future and it is imperative to ensure that they are provided with enabling and conducive studying environments. With solar energy, this will be achieved.
The European Union will continue to fight the good fight to combat climate change, promote environmental sustainability and support improved access to clean and affordable energy for all. Hopefully, by 2030, a new, healthier and more developed world will be possible with cleaner and sustainable environments, and we can be grateful that what was once our desired future, has become our current reality.