Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on environment in Nigeria and other countries have called for an end to the use of fossil fuels to combat the adverse impacts of climate change.
Rev. Nnimmo Bassey, the Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), joined other CSOs to make the call in a statement made available to newsmen in Yenagoa on Friday.
Bassey said that CSOs from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria and Kenya HOMEF in a two-day virtual dialogue/school of Ecology on Climate and Power Alternatives on June 22 and 23.
The event, which also had students, community representatives and the academia participating interrogated the impacts of climate change as it relates to energy and power alternatives in Africa and across the world.
According to the statement, speakers at the event included Nnimmo Bassey (Nigeria), Ken Henshaw (Nigeria), Fatima Diallo (Senegal), Marcelo Calazans (Brazil), Ikal Angelei (Kenya), Philip Jakpor (Nigeria).
Others are Chibezie Ezekiel (Ghana), Babawale Obayanju (Nigeria), Hamza Hamouchene (Algeria), Enteng Bautista (Philippines) Emem Okon (Nigeria) and Kwami Kpondzo (Togo).
The dialogue highlighted alternatives to fossil fuels, while challenging peoples and communities to see themselves as climate actors to demand an end to dirty energy dependency and the accompanying environmental degradation.
The participants agreed that oil dependency has spelt a big challenge for African governments which has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
They observed that series of climate change impacts such as extreme floods, cyclones, droughts and locust invasions on reliance on fossil fuels to drive economies as wrought were discussed.
It was noted that Africa certainly needed better energy access as over 640 million Africans, according to the African Development Bank have no access to energy.
They disclosed that the shortage was corresponding to an electricity access rate for African countries standing at just over 40 per cent and as the lowest in the world.
It was however stated that Africa needed to ensure better energy access based on a climate justice mindset which drives the political will to draw an immediate and long-term plan to power Africa.
The power should be from Africa’s abundant renewable resources, while ensuring that these do not come with green land grabs and diverse dispossessions of poor communities and peoples.
“We need a new mindset to build alternative power structures that will birth continent-wide distributed renewable energy micro-grids managed by communities and associations and not by shylock private companies.
“The failure to deliver power to the majority of Africans increases and lacks in energy inequalities.
“For a sustainable energy transition, there must be full understanding of what energy and power is needed for, autonomous determination of what constitutes development, progress and wellbeing
“It is fundamentally necessary to develop the right analysis of Africa’s political economy in order to draw up medium and long-term plans for energy transition. Communities are largely sidelined, ignored or left out in decision making in the energy sector.
“It is regrettable that government and policy makers are more interested in markets rather than energy democracy which embraces people at the grassroots. The fossil fuels industry promotes the false narrative that fossil fuels are infinite.
“Women are at the receiving end when it comes to the impacts of fossil fuels extraction and are not given a seat on the table when decisions relating to the sector are being formulated by government/policy makers.
“Communities and environmental defenders across the world are being suppressed and denied opportunities to assert their rights to choose energy forms that are useful to them.
“The alliance between African governments and extractive companies has led to the thinking that the continent can only produce power and develop by use of fossil fuels.
“The struggles of communities in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia for energy democracy and to free their territories of polluting fossil fuel activities provide key learning opportunities,” the statement said.
The CSOs noted that earnings from other regions important for the development of holistic responses to energy challenges taking into account, the colonisation of natural and mental territories and environments by the fossil fuel industry.
The participants recommended that the people should be given the opportunity and space to decide on the kind of energy system they need and how they get it.
The environmentalists said peoples’ rights to live in harmony with nature and have their knowledge respected should be taken into account in national, regional and international negotiations on climate change and energy issues.
“There is urgent need to review our energy needs along the lines of renewable technology that are cheap, available, community-led and not imposed.
“Access to energy must be a fundamental right and not driven by markets or market- based solutions that present the same social and ecological problems that dirty energy sources generate.
“Governments must incentivise the use of renewables through eliminating taxes and tariffs on quality solar products and other renewable products.
“In planning energy projects, the free and prior informed consent of communities must be obtained while they retain their right to say no to such projects.
“Energy transition planning must be gender and socially inclusive at local, national, regional and international levels.
“Plans by the Nigerian government to build nuclear power plants in Akwa Ibom and Kogi States should be halted in line with the stand of the people.
The CSOs called on peoples all over the world to reject energy colonialism, predatory ‘extractivism’ and to build/connect movements from below for a truly just energy transition,” HOMEF stated.