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Energy solutions to end climate crisis, fuel for instability, Buhari declares

Muhammadu Buhari

.Pegs Nigeria’s net zero target at 2060

. As Chamber condemns 13K tonne CO2 pollution in Glasgow

Clara Nwachukwu

To show that Nigeria is not fully prepared to achieve net zero target by 2050, as set by the United Nations (UN), President Muhammadu Buhari has shifted the country’s compliance date to 2060, a decade after global leaders agreed to end carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through energy transition to renewables.  

In Buhari’s thinking, the alarm raised about global warming and climate change dates back in time. “Dire warnings of the end of the world are as old as civilization itself.”

These and more were his opinion in a presentation, titled: The Climate Crisis Will Not be Fixed by Causing an Energy Crisis in Africa, delivered at the ongoing UN Conference of Parties (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland.

He warned that if the world makes good the plan for energy transition by 2050, it would be a shift to calamity for Africa and resource-rich countries like Nigeria.

But he also agreed that “There is a deal to be done at COP26, but none without the agreement of the nations of Africa.”

He said: “Mankind has a duty to act on these dangers. But because of their seriousness we must not do so rashly. It is an inconvenient truth, but energy solutions proposed by those most eager to address the climate crisis are fuel for the instability of which they warn. No more clearly can this be seen than in Africa.”

“The climate warnings, we hear them. We live them. But no one has the right to deny the advancement of our continent. Yet unless the developed world wakes up, we run the risk of trying to fix the climate crisis with an energy crisis,” he asserted.

Renewable energies

According to Buhari, the alternatives being proposed by the West are not only unreliable but also expensive. “Yet in our rush to address climate concerns, and for western aid agencies and investors to burnish their green credentials, we rush to install the most alternative of energy sources which are often the most unreliable,” he accused.

“Wind and solar, the most fashionable of modern energy technologies, are flawed by their reliance on back-up diesel generators or batteries for when there is no wind for the turbines or sun for the panels,” he insisted.

As far as President Buhari could see, “There is no single ‘green bullet’ that can be deployed either in Africa or the world that solves concerns of environmentalists.”

This is because, “It also seems unnoticed that in our global rush for electric cars we risk replacing the last century’s scramble for fossil fuels with a new global race in lithium for batteries,” he said.

“Where significant deposits are to be found, such as in Africa, this could endanger geopolitical stability,” he argued, and urged global leaders to “think carefully whether our dash to terminate the use of fossil fuels so swiftly is as wise as it sounds.”  

The climate warnings, we hear them. We live them. But no one has the right to deny the advancement of our continent. Yet unless the developed world wakes up, we run the risk of trying to fix the climate crisis with an energy crisis.

Immediate solutions

Agreeing on the need for energy revolution, Buhari believes this can be done by “starting with transitioning to cleaner, but consistent, energy production.”

He suggested that: “Fossil fuel power generation that can provide electricity 24 hours a day in all conditions can be re-tooled greener through carbon capture and the conversion of coal and heavy fuel oil power stations to biomass.

“We can bring forward new technologies such as mini-hydro power plants which can operate and produce power day and night along shallow waterways without damaging the aquatic life on which local communities are sustained.

“We can also invest in nuclear (energy). Though not renewable, it is carbon neutral and capable of producing base load, constant electricity production on which sustained economic progress can be built. Nigeria is among a handful of African countries exploring nuclear power, with a research reactor already operational.”

Against this backdrop, Buhari reiterated his call for justice and fair play for Africa, and called on Europe and America, whom he claimed “do not always practice what they preach,” to “lift the moratorium they have placed on fossil fuel investments in Africa.”

As for Nigeria, the President reiterated the country’s plan “to eliminate illegal gas flaring by 2030—a by-product of our oil industry—and harness it for electricity production.”

He continued: “Our intention to end Nigeria’s single greatest contribution to greenhouse emissions may stall without it. Yet there are no such limitations on investment in natural gas power in the West where it is considered a transitional energy source.”

There is no single ‘green bullet’ that can be deployed either in Africa or the world that solves concerns of environmentalists.

Pollution in Glasgow

Buhari’s declaration comes even as the Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber, NJ Ayuk, complained about the “hypocrisy” of the global leaders in limiting carbon emissions.

He applauded the decision of China and Russia for standing their ground by not “attending #COP26.”

“Ironically not attending is better for the planet than the hypocrites arriving by private jets and burning a few million litres of rocket fuel through the atmosphere every 5 minutes to show off to your friends and lecturing Africans to go green immediately with failed promises around energy poverty,” Ayuk said.

By the Cameroonian lawyer’s estimation, “400 private jets used by world ‘leaders’ to get to #COP26 pumped out 13,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.” It was so chaotic that parking the jets became a challenge.

“… yet they want you to stop eating meat, to stop going on holiday, to buy a new electric car, and to spend thousands of dollars on new boilers,” he accused.         

Sharing his experience at COP26, Ayuk said: “… I sat on various panels getting jeered for defending oil and gas and talking about energy poverty by the same rich people who try to lecture me about ESG (environmental, social and governance). Their newfound compassion for the poor was mesmerizing. They delivered a diatribe that delineated the injustices experienced by privileged rich people in their beautiful societies with a wing at those poor people that held them in contempt.”

400 private jets used by world ‘leaders’ to get to #COP26 pumped out 13,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

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