The Environment

Stop funding coal, oil, gas operations, By Adeze Ojukwu

“Stop financing new oil, gas exploration and coal mining.”

 

The United Nations (UN), gave this warning again, few days ago, due to the monstrous climatic calamity, distressing humans and the habitat.

It also called on nations and financial institutions to stop lending money for coal mining, as well as oil and gas enterprises.

 

Sadly, this is coming, after the exit of a administration, who squandered huge funds on searching for viable oil and gas fields in the North. What a shame. But did it heed earlier warnings.

Details of this huge expenditure, require serious scrutiny, given the negative consequences of these unjustifiable venture on climate change. He defied earlier alarms and red flags, raised by UN experts and scientists, over the past years.

 

For a man that hardly, crossed the secondary school certification level and possessed little or no exposure to environmental science, of the former president, Muhammadu Buhari, should have surrounded himself with professionals, in this highly technical area. Instead he employed sycophants, who were perhaps ignorant or failed to tell him the truth. Perhaps he may have also rejected the intelligent advice from climatologists.

 

He and his lame-duck aides, flagrantly, ignored all the warnings on dangerous triggers, such as oil and gas operations and coal mining.

Thankfully, he has achieved his long-life ambition, with the successful launching of crude oil expedition, in the northern axis. How this gargantuan project, which was mouthed, as a major achievement, will change the faltering trajectory of Nigeria or even the north, remains to be seen.

He deployed scarce national resources, on such a wasteful scheme, with monumental adverse implications. Was the motivation, merely to satisfy a bloated ego and passion to discover oil in Northern Nigeria? With his proclivity for divisiveness, ethnicity and nepotism, many respondents, who spoke under anonymity, criticized the exercise, as a spurious and political gamble, with little or no economic value.

Perhaps successive authorities, will invest in renewable energy and green economy, in order to support the war against global warning.

Indeed, this menace requires serious international co-operation, to tackle efficiently.

Hence, the warning from UN Director- General, Dr. António Guterres is quite significant.

“Financial institutions everywhere must end lending, underwriting, and investments in coal anywhere, including new coal infrastructure, power plants, and mines. They must commit to end financing and investment in exploration for new oil, gas fields and expansion of oil and gas reserves and investing instead in the just transition in the developing world. Countries must phase out coal and other fossil fuels to avert climate “catastrophe,” he stressed.

He gave the warning, during a meeting with Climate Action Civil Society leaders in New York and tweeted. “In every country, without exception, civil society must be at the table helping to shape policy, and on the ground helping to deliver change.”

 

Addressing journalists, journalists, following the meeting with civil society climate leaders from across the world, at UN Headquarters, the UN Chief said “we are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open. It’s time to wake up and step up.” He noted further, in a separate release statement, that “limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible but will require a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. However, current policies will lead to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century, which “spells catastrophe.”

 

He called for immediate global action toward net-zero emissions, which “must start with the polluted heart of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry.” He also called on governments and explorers to “leave coal in the ground. Countries must progressively phase out fossil fuels, moving to leave oil, coal and gas in the ground, where they belong. Focus on strategies to massively boost investment in renewable energy,” he stressed.

 

Recall that the UN chief had, previously, proposed establishing a Climate Solidarity Pact, under which rich nations would support emerging economies with cutting emissions. Interestingly, there is a new proposal, or what is, described as “an Acceleration Agenda call on governments to phase out coal by 2040, end public and private international coal funding, and shift subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables, among other measures.”

“But the fossil fuel industry and its enablers have a special responsibility,” he said, noting the record “$4 trillion windfall” in income last year.

 

“Yet for every dollar it spends on oil and gas drilling and exploration, only four cents went to clean energy and carbon capture combined. Trading the future for 30 pieces of silver is immoral,” Dr Gutteres lamented.

 

The text reads:

“The fossil fuel industry should apply its massive resources to drive, not obstruct the global transition to renewable energy. The industry, currently is not even reaching the very low operational emissions reductions targets it has set for itself. Fossil fuel companies to present credible, comprehensive and detailed new transition plans that include reducing emissions up and down the value chain, from production through to refining, distribution and use.

 

“Plans must also establish clear, near-term targets towards the transition to ‘green’ energy. Fossil fuel companies must also cease and desist influence peddling and legal threats designed to kneecap progress. I am thinking particularly of recent attempts to subvert net zero alliances, invoking anti-trust legislation.

 

“Governments are pivotal in setting the record straight. They must help by providing clear reassurance. Collective climate action does not violate anti-trust – it upholds the public trust.

 

There are calls for detailed plans from financial institutions. Plans should include an explicit strategy to progressively strip out fossil fuel assets from their portfolios to ensure alignment with the net-zero goal. All lobbying and policy engagement also should be disclosed.”

 

These new measures along with commitment by world leaders, will boost the new momentum on environmental protection and the global energy transformation.

 

•Ojukwu, a journalist, author and Fellow of Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship, a US sponsored Fulbright programme, is an advocate for justice, equity and good governance. Kindly send feedback to adeze.ojukwu@gmail.com

 

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