Friday 5 June 2020

Time For Nature: An Insight into Biodiversity
World Environment Day

Earth exists in a spectrum of interconnected dots and lines that makes every natural thing dependent on one another. Most basic things such as air, land, water, and plants are relatively connected to a large extent that humans cannot do without them. Biodiversity which comprises of the different species and types of plants, animals, micro-organisms, is the core of human existence. Basic human activities and needs such as food production, shelter, and drugs are totally dependent on the existence of an optimally functioning ecosystem - the interaction of a community of organisms with their physical environment.

The climatic changes on our planet have led to threatening conditions of the ecosystem, varying and harsh weather patterns have led to the gradual extinction of the ecosystem. Man-made activities have continued to contribute to the diminishing ecosystem and also continues to threaten the existence of these species. A definitive approach to this challenge is the continuous reduction of carbon footprints by embracing environment-friendly options such as renewable sources of power over coal. More importantly, it is ensuring the government of individual nations continue to champion policies that continue to fight climate change.

All forms of pollution pose an enormous amount of threat to life on the planet. Air pollution through the release of dangerous chemicals and toxins into the atmosphere from industrial sources such as gas flaring is also a contributing factor to biodiversity loss. It has been estimated that we might have more plastics in the ocean than fishes by 2050 if we continue to pollute the ocean with everyday disposal of single-use plastics. Air pollution can be reduced by embracing electric cars, car-pooling instead of traveling individuals in different cars, more usage of public transportation. The need to discourage single-use plastics is also very important as the drive for recycling and upcycling takes the fore.

Biodiversity loss can also be through overexploitation which happens when natural resources are harvested at a rate that is faster than they can reproduce or sustain themselves. A typical example is overfishing in our oceans and overhunting. The continuous need for policies to reform these sectors by the government cannot be overemphasized. Also, regularly educating the public on the ills of overexploitation to the ecosystem is as important as formulating policies.

An essential ecosystem crucial to the existence of humans is wildlife and forests. About 18million acres of forests are lost yearly as a result of deforestation. Owing to the fact that forests regulate the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere, also controlling rainfall and soil erosion, the need to have our forests operating at optimum capacity is gargantuan. The answer to the impacts of deforestation can be hinged on government policies that provide protection for forests and wildlife. Also, more preference for digital storage solutions over hardcopy, which requires the use of papers should be encouraged.

Other factors contributing to biodiversity loss include the intromission of non-native species into an ecosystem that may likely alter already existing processes. Natural occurrences such as the 2019/2020 Australian wildfires are also some unforeseen, unplanned, and uncontrollable circumstances that are mostly going to lead to biodiversity loss.

As the world celebrates World Environment Day 2020, let us join our efforts together to ensure that we preserve nature and our biodiversity. We do not just owe it to ourselves but the generation coming after us.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Citizens Raise Concerns Over Polluted Air As Soot Clouds to Port Harcourt

Residents of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria have started raising concerns over the soot pollution that has enveloped the city. Many would remember that the air pollution in the form of soot, has been an issue over the course of the last three to four years.

In 2017 and 2018, concerned stakeholders and citizens in the city embarked on awareness campaigns to sensitize residents within the state on the best ways to remain safe, stay healthy and guard against the effects of soot. Also, these campaigns were geared towards calling on the state and federal government to act fast to prevent grave consequences arising for inhaling contaminated and polluted air.

While the state government put in some measures such as shutting down some production and manufacturing companies who were found to be major contributors to the pollution, the operations of artisanal refineries have continued to contribute immensely to the pollution process.

Read Also: Amidst 2019 General Elections, Soot Envelopes Port Harcourt Residents

It would be recalled in the last two years that some of these illegal refineries were shut down by efforts of the state joint task force. However, it can be said that their operations have not been totally stopped.

As the dry season reaches its peak and the ambient air becomes harsher, it is evident that the effects of polluted air were only covered by the rainfall over the past months. These effects are well pronounced as the harmattan season kicks in.

According to a recent report by BBC, as observed by Prof. Precious Ede, the chairman for the committee set up by the state government to tackle the soot issue, there has been 4% increase in the rate of lung infections within the state and if nothing is done within the next five years, there would be pronounced and recorded cases of respiratory tract infection and cancer cases.

Wednesday 3 July 2019

Commonwealth small states recognised for commitment to SDG implementation

Malta has won the inaugural Commonwealth Award for Excellence in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Implementation, with Namibia and the Bahamas also scooping prizes. 

During a ceremony in Malta on 26-27 June, hosted by the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence (CSSCOE), the country was recognised for its whole-of-government approach with particular praise for efforts to integrate SDGs into development planning. 

Malta’s operations director-general in the environment, sustainable development and climate change division, Dennis Buttigieg, accepted the award on behalf of the department’s permanent secretary, Joseph Caruana. 

He said: “Malta has been recognised as an effective model of good SDG implementation.
“We look forward to continuing sharing experiences and lessons learned for the benefit of SDGs across the Commonwealth.”

Countries were assessed by a panel of judges representing Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Pacific regions. Namibia received an award for aligning SDGs at a local level while The Bahamas was recognised for introducing institutional mechanisms focussing on education, energy reform and improving infrastructure.

Malta’s Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Dr José Herrera, said: “The Commonwealth is an extremely important international entity. It is generous and comprises almost one third of the world's population. Sustainability is an extremely important topic and is pivotal for future generations”.

By recognising, promoting and incentivising SDG implementation amongst Commonwealth small states, the meeting facilitated discussion on experiences, lessons learnt and sharing of best practice. 
Bangladesh cabinet secretary, Mohammed Shafiul Alamstated, said: “There are so many examples of best practice all over the world, especially in Commonwealth countries. Bangladesh can share their experiences and replicate in our country.”

Countries were nominated based on submissions of their 2018 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), showing commitment to SDG implementation.

Speaking by video link, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We hope the recognition offered by the Commonwealth Awards for Excellence in SDG Implementation will be an encouragement, and will motivate the governments of small states to ever higher levels of implementation towards achievement.

“Our focus is on the quality of systems in place to facilitate progress, rather than final achievement of the SDGs.”

Another key focus of the two-day event was to guide the CSSCOE to provide focused research, capacity building and assistance to promote and assist with countries’ successful implementation of the SDGs. 

During the awards, the Commonwealth shared its unique SDG implementation toolkit which provides practical guidance on how member countries can effectively plan, track and coordinate SDG implementation within their government more effectively and strategically. 

Commonwealth director for Economic, Youth and Sustainable Development, Prajapati Trivedi, said: “We are pleased delegates were very receptive to the Commonwealth SDG implementation toolkit. 
“There was positive feedback from delegates and they were excited to see how this toolkit could be put into use.”

 Source: The Commonwealth

Friday 7 June 2019

Port Harcourt Global Shapers Community Commemorates 2019 World Environment Day

Green Earth

The Port Harcourt hub of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community commemorated the 2019 World Environment Day with a Walk for Clean Air and a tree planting exercise.

As the usual practice every year, the United Nations has set aside the 5th of June of every year to mark the world’s environment day. In 2018, the theme was centered on the need to Beat Plastic Pollution. For 2019 however, the celebration focused on Air Pollution, with the theme – Beat Air Pollution.

The Port Harcourt Global Shapers Community in partnership with Clean Cyclers and supported by other environment stakeholders such as Green Earth NG, SustyVibes, Safe Habitat NGO, Stop The Soot and many others, came together for the event to mark the 2019 World Environment Day.

World Environment Day - Green Earth NG

The Walk for Clean Air kicked off from Sasun Roundabout, Odili Road with a talk by ThankGod Okorisha, the curator of the Port Harcourt Global Shapers Community and Tunde Bello, the convener of Stop The Soot Initiative. The event also had the likes of Eugene Abel - a front runner activist who champions the need for a safe and habitable environment. Youths from different parts of the city joined in the walk at different locations all the way to Elelewon where the tree planting exercise took place. 

The need to take climate action in combating climate change cannot be overemphasize as air pollution is one menace that affects every single human all over the world. The event was indeed a success and we enjoin citizens to embrace the fight against climate change through restoration of our environment.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Nigeria’s 10m used tyres annually pose danger to environment – ACCI

Car Tire Pollution

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has said that 10 million used tyres in Nigeria every year pose a danger to the environment.

Speaking during a roundtable discussion on ‘waste to wealth’ held in Abuja recently, the President of the Chamber, Prince Adetokumbo Kayode, said despite the wealth creation potential of turning waste into meaningful economic products, about 2.5 million tons of tyre wastes are produced annually in Nigeria.

The industrialist said recycling is the solution to the waste challenge in Nigeria to protect the environment and create wealth as well.

Prince Kayode said Nigeria can create one-waste-one-industry across the country to engage young Nigerians who are unemployed.

He said such industries do not require much money to set up and are within the range of investment that most Nigerians can afford.

“It will create value, open opportunities and create wealth for the younger generation,” Prince Kayode told the gathering.

He said “no waste is waste” no matter the state and extent of use, whether it is plastic, used tires, broken glass, wood shavings, and used papers.”

The European Union (EU) Trade Envoy to Nigeria, Mr Filipo Amato, told participants at the round-table that the union places priority on environmental protection.

He said recycling of used products help to reduce waste in the society, leaving the environment clean.

He pledged to work with the chamber next year to create more awareness on the potentials of waste in wealth creation.

Source: Daily Trust

Saturday 23 February 2019

Amidst 2019 General Elections, Soot Envelopes Port Harcourt Residents
As Nigerians marched to the various polling units across the federation to exercise their civic duties, the environment and most importantly, the country as a whole was better off for it. Categorically, it can be concluded that there was a very large reduction of carbon emission in the past few hours.

Carbon emission from heavy duty trucks and commercial vehicles have been big contributors of carbon in terms of sources of carbon pollution in the analysis of climate change. The citizens of Rivers state, despite having the same experience in terms of vehicular traffic on major roads are having to contend with a scourge they have been unable to end for years. 

It was around this time over two years ago when the Citizens of Port Harcourt embarked on a coordinated campaign awareness to let out the need for safe and clean air in the city. The campaign attracted some international communities at the time and had Port Harcourt on the global map, albeit for a reason the residents of the city were not proud off.

Attention has yet to be drawn to the current level of air pollution within the state capital due to the intense pressure that often envelopes the general elections. However, the fact remains that the environmental menace in form Soot has become more visible.

The resident are beginning to experience similar occurrences of the past; black feet after walking barefooted, particles of soot in their noses, black dusty air in the atmosphere. The negative impacts of the soot pollution such as coronary heart diseases, asthma, bronchitis and many other respiratory illnesses cannot be overemphasized. 

While the elections are the talk of town, at least for the next one month, we can always beam our light toward the environmental hazard in the form of soot pollution.

Monday 10 September 2018

Nigeria Ranks 4th Deadliest Country in Air Pollution

There is a silent rage of air pollution in Nigeria. These days, the air quality is so bad it kills. Almost every breath taken is like the breath of death.   Literally, air pollution is choking the life out of Nigerians. Indoors and outdoors, air pollution is killing more urban residents today than ever before. 

The air people breathe in Nigeria is more likely to cause harm than the air in any other country in Africa because Nigeria currently has the highest burden of fatalities from air pollution in Africa and 4th  highest in the world with 150 deaths per 100,000 people attributable to pollution. According to the just released annual State of the Global Air Report published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), air quality in Nigeria and at least 10 other countries is among the deadliest anywhere on earth with higher than ambient air pollution death rates as a result of the environmental hazards combined with extreme pollution sources like generator fumes, vehicle emissions and crop burning among others.

The HEI chart notes that there were 150 deaths per age-standardized deaths per 100,000 people attributable to air pollution in Nigeria in 2016 (the latest year of available data), compared to high industrialised countries like China, 117 deaths per 100,000 people; Russia, 62 deaths per 100,000 people; Germany, 22 deaths per 100,000 people; United Kingdom, 21 deaths per 100,000 people; the United States, 21 deaths per 100,000 people; Japan 13 deaths per 100,000 people and Canada, 12 deaths per 100,000 people. Only Afghanistan with 406; Pakistan, 207, and   India, 195 deaths per 100,000 people per country, exceed the Nigerian figure. 

The chart showcases a striking gap between the most and least polluted air around the world. While developed countries have experienced success in reducing emissions and air pollution levels, poorer nations have fallen behind, although it should be noted that tougher pollution controls are being introduced in some of the countries. In 1990, 3.5 billion people were exposed to it and that has now fallen to 2.4 billion despite an increase in the global population.

The report notes that 95 percent of the world’s population is breathing unhealthy air. It said long-term exposure to air pollution contributed to just over 6 million deaths in 2016 with strokes, lung disease, lung cancer and heart attacks linked to many of them. After smoking, high blood pressure and poor diet, air pollution is the fourth-highest cause of death worldwide with most deaths occurring in developing countries. Air sustains life, but air could also snuff out life. 

With air you live, and with air you could die. In a number of the big Nigerian cities, when people present at the hospital with health problems including chest pain, dry throat, nausea, aggravated respiratory disease such as emphysema, bronchitis, lung damage, and asthma among other respiratory problems, it often turns out that they’ve been exposed to the effects of poor air quality. Symptoms such as irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia are also suspect. Air pollution increases the risk of cancer.  There are two types of air pollutants – gas pollutants (e.g. carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, etc.) and particles in the air. Air particles can accumulate in the lungs.

Air pollution is hardly listed among causes of death on death certificates in Nigeria, yet the health conditions linked to air pollution exposure,  such as lung cancer and emphysema, are often fatal. According to a 2016 World Health Organisation report, Onitsha, Kaduna, Aba and Umuahia were among four of the 20 African cities with the worst air quality in the world. The WHO measured air quality by examining the annual mean concentration of particulate matter in nearly 3,000 cities across the world with populations of at least 100,000. Onitsha’s average annual PM10 was 594 – nearly 30 times greater than the WHO-recommended annual level of 20. Kaduna, Aba, and Umuahia cities were ranked among the top 20 worst cities measured by PM10, ranking 8th, 9th, and 19th, respectively. 

Air pollution is  now the fourth-highest cause of death worldwide, trailing smoking, high blood pressure and diet, with the majority of deaths recorded in poorer nations with India and China leading the world in the total number of deaths attributable to air pollution in 2016 with 1.61 million and 1.58 million respectively. Data from the report show that ambient levels of unsafe air continue to exceed the Air Quality Guideline established by the World Health Organisation, WHO.

In a typical scenario thick clouds of blackened smoke usually envelope large areas within Nigerian city suburbs as many smoky and noisy generators run throughout the day and all night.  It’s a routine residents are familiar with – clouds of particulate-tinged smoke spreading, setting the pace for generator-induced illnesses and even death. Generator fumes comprise a lethal cocktail of poisonous and environmentally unfriendly gases, including carbon monoxide and other noxious products. Carbon monoxide could be a serious health hazard. Indoors or in close proximity, the gas quickly infiltrates living spaces and incapacitates occupants. All over town, worn out generators and vehicles with poorly-tuned engines are belching out smoke of noxious emissions, making the air as toxic on the streets as it is unhealthy in the kitchen at home where a kerosene stove burns sooty flames almost around the clock. 

A combination of incomplete combustion and lack of ventilation leads to high concentrations of particulate matter and other pollutants  in the home and the resulting burden of household air pollution on human health. Rather than dispose refuse and some other wastes or unwanted materials some Nigerians burn them within their neighborhood.

The problem is also manifesting in the rural areas due to burning of firewood and coal for cooking. Globally the estimated population relying on solid fuels has reduced but Nigeria remains among countries with populations exposed to household air pollution from dependence on solid fuel. Worse still, over 70 percent of the fuel in the country is generated from fossil fuel. Most Nigerians are thus exposed to household air pollution with fine particulate matter levels exceeding air quality guidelines by as much as 20 times. Air pollution from indoor sources is recognised as the single largest contributor to the negative health effects of air pollution in Nigeria. 

While developed nations have been taking action to clean their air, Nigeria is still among the countries that have fallen behind as revealed in the death rate. Nigeria produces more than 3 million tons of waste annually, and uncontrolled waste burning is one of the practices that contribute to deteriorating air quality. Almost every Nigerian is exposed to air pollution levels exceeding WHO guidelines and inflicting significant air pollution damage costs.

In Lagos for instance, an estimated seven million people died from diseases related to indoor and outdoor air pollution in 2012 according to the WHO. Part of the problem is that environmental regulations and enforcement are lax; people are more exposed to air pollution but less able to protect themselves from exposure either in the open, in the workplace or at home.  

No doubt, Nigeria requires tougher pollution controls if it hopes to effectively combat indoor air pollution by producing safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives. How clean the air is matters to your health. Increasing public awareness of air pollution and the burden of diseases that it imposes on individuals, families, and society is an essential step toward making the changes that will improve public health.

Additional Data: Statista
Source: Vanguard
Image Credit: SlideShare

Sunday 9 September 2018

Deforestation: NCF Partners IITA on Tree Planting
Tree Planting

The Nigerian Conservation  Foundation (NCF) is partnering with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, on tree planting in order to tackle the problem of forest degradation in the country.

The NCF President, Izoma Asiodu, at a tree-planting event in Ibadan on Friday, decried what he called the negative attitude of Nigerians toward tree-felling without replacement.

He said that the effects of this were currently responsible for climate change in Nigeria.

Asiodu said that NCF had adopted an immediate priority to help the Nigerian  government on green recovery initiative by planting more indigenous trees.

He said that indigenous trees were more protective of the Nigerian soil, adding that they enrich the soil, unlike most imported trees which come with certain diseases.

Asiodu said that planting of trees would help address forest degradation and the effects of climate change in a few years.

The Deputy Director of  IITA, Mrs Hilde Koper-Limbourg, said she was delighted that NCF had interest in the protection and preservation of the environment and wildlife in Nigeria.

She described IITA as a non-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty and natural resource degradation.
Koper-Limbourg said though forest conservation work was not IITA ’s main mandate,  it was aware of its importance to the environment.

According to her,  IITA  recognises the importance of forests and appreciates the support offered by NCF and other partners.

“We promise to keep working on responsible agriculture and conservation,’’ she said.

Prof. Busoye Agbeja, the Chairman of  Commonwealth Forestry Association, called on federal and state governments to address the challenges of forest reserves so as to prevent degradation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that also present at the event were the Director-General of  NCF, Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano and  Chief Ede Dafinone, the Chairman of  Green Recovery Nigeria Initiatives.

Source: Independent NG
Image Credit: One Oil Palm

Tuesday 7 August 2018

The World is Losing the War Against Climate Change
Climate Change
Source: NASA

EARTH is smouldering. From Seattle to Siberia this summer, flames have consumed swathes of the northern hemisphere. One of 18 wildfires sweeping through California, among the worst in the state’s history, is generating such heat that it created its own weather. Fires that raged through a coastal area near Athens last week killed 91 (see article). Elsewhere people are suffocating in the heat. Roughly 125 have died in Japan as the result of a heatwave that pushed temperatures in Tokyo above 40°C for the first time.
Such calamities, once considered freakish, are now commonplace. Scientists have long cautioned that, as the planet warms—it is roughly 1°C hotter today than before the industrial age’s first furnaces were lit—weather patterns will go berserk. An early analysis has found that this sweltering European summer would have been less than half as likely were it not for human-induced global warming.

Yet as the impact of climate change becomes more evident, so too does the scale of the challenge ahead. Three years after countries vowed in Paris to keep warming “well below” 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels, greenhouse-gas emissions are up again. So are investments in oil and gas. In 2017, for the first time in four years, demand for coal rose. Subsidies for renewables, such as wind and solar power, are dwindling in many places and investment has stalled; climate-friendly nuclear power is expensive and unpopular. It is tempting to think these are temporary setbacks and that mankind, with its instinct for self-preservation, will muddle through to a victory over global warming. In fact, it is losing the war.

Living in a fuel’s paradise

Insufficient progress is not to say no progress at all. As solar panels, wind turbines and other low-carbon technologies become cheaper and more efficient, their use has surged. Last year the number of electric cars sold around the world passed 1m. In some sunny and blustery places renewable power now costs less than coal.
Public concern is picking up. A poll last year of 38 countries found that 61% of people see climate change as a big threat; only the terrorists of Islamic State inspired more fear. In the West campaigning investors talk of divesting from companies that make their living from coal and oil. Despite President Donald Trump’s decision to yank America out of the Paris deal, many American cities and states have reaffirmed their commitment to it. Even some of the sceptic-in-chief’s fellow Republicans appear less averse to tackling the problem (see article). In smog-shrouded China and India, citizens choking on fumes are prompting governments to rethink plans to rely heavily on coal to electrify their countries.

Optimists say that decarbonisation is within reach. Yet, even allowing for the familiar complexities of agreeing on and enforcing global targets, it is proving extraordinarily difficult.

One reason is soaring energy demand, especially in developing Asia. In 2006-16, as Asia’s emerging economies forged ahead, their energy consumption rose by 40%. The use of coal, easily the dirtiest fossil fuel, grew at an annual rate of 3.1%. Use of cleaner natural gas grew by 5.2% and of oil by 2.9%. Fossil fuels are easier to hook up to today’s grids than renewables that depend on the sun shining and the wind blowing. Even as green fund managers threaten to pull back from oil companies, state-owned behemoths in the Middle East and Russia see Asian demand as a compelling reason to invest.

The second reason is economic and political inertia. The more fossil fuels a country consumes, the harder it is to wean itself off them. Powerful lobbies, and the voters who back them, entrench coal in the energy mix. Reshaping existing ways of doing things can take years. In 2017 Britain enjoyed its first coal-free day since igniting the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. Coal generates not merely 80% of India’s electricity, but also underpins the economies of some of its poorest states (see Briefing). Panjandrums in Delhi are not keen to countenance the end of coal, lest that cripple the banking system, which lent it too much money, and the railways, which depend on it.

Last is the technical challenge of stripping carbon out of industries beyond power generation. Steel, cement, farming, transport and other forms of economic activity account for over half of global carbon emissions. They are technically harder to clean up than power generation and are protected by vested industrial interests. Successes can turn out to be illusory. Because China’s 1m-plus electric cars draw their oomph from an electricity grid that draws two-thirds of its power from coal, they produce more carbon dioxide than some fuel-efficient petrol-driven models. Meanwhile, scrubbing CO{-2} from the atmosphere, which climate models imply is needed on a vast scale to meet the Paris target, attracts even less attention.
The world is not short of ideas to realise the Paris goal. Around 70 countries or regions, responsible for one-fifth of all emissions, now price carbon. Technologists beaver away on sturdier grids, zero-carbon steel, even carbon-negative cement, whose production absorbs more CO{-2} than it releases. All these efforts and more—including research into “solar geoengineering” to reflect sunlight back into space—should be redoubled.

Blood, sweat and geoengineers

Yet none of these fixes will come to much unless climate listlessness is tackled head on. Western countries grew wealthy on a carbon-heavy diet of industrial development. They must honour their commitment in the Paris agreement to help poorer places both adapt to a warmer Earth and also abate future emissions without sacrificing the growth needed to leave poverty behind.
Averting climate change will come at a short-term financial cost—although the shift from carbon may eventually enrich the economy, as the move to carbon-burning cars, lorries and electricity did in the 20th century. Politicians have an essential role to play in making the case for reform and in ensuring that the most vulnerable do not bear the brunt of the change. Perhaps global warming will help them fire up the collective will. Sadly, the world looks poised to get a lot hotter first.

Source: Economist

Thursday 2 August 2018

Combating Climate Change and Its Impact in Nigeria
Goal 13
The monthly SDG Dialogue held at United Nation Information Centre, Lagos on the 31st of July, 2018 with the theme – “Combating Climate Change and Its Impact in Nigeria” in a bid to focus on SDG 13 – Climate Action. Dr Ahove Michael of the Centre for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development of Lagos State University and Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, renowned environmentalist and chairman of Lufasi Park were the Speakers.

Both speakers primarily focused on how innovation and a little tweak in the way we live and we might just be on our way to having everyone on the warship sailing towards the fight against climate change. Until we begin to see climate change as a threat to global security, we will only be going in circles in the fight and continue to experience even bigger negative impacts of climate change.

Dr. Ahove Michael spoke on embracing innovative development, the use of energy efficient bulbs, fans and freezers and most importantly reducing energy consumption generally.
Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi centered about first changing our minds and thought systems before even thinking of overcoming climate change as this stands as a battles not just for us but for the coming generation. It goes beyond being an environmentalist but instead becoming an environmental activist by championing the drive to decarbonize, protect the forests and plant trees.

Climate Change in Nigeria

He mentioned the lazy man’s guide to changing the world by combating climate change through the following steps;

From your couch:

1. Save electricity by removing chargers and connection boxes from power sockets when not in use.
2. Stop paper payments
3. Share information on climate change, whether posted by you or someone else. Be involved in awareness and orientation.
4. Speak up-Ask your local and national authorities to engage in, and be involved in initiatives that combat climate change.
5. Turn off lights when not in use.
6. Stay informed.

At home:

1. Air dry-Let your clothes and hair dry naturally, instead of using machines.
2. Load washing machines to the maximum when you want to wash.  Reduce washing in bits.
3. Take short showers.
4. Eat less poultry/fish.
5. Freeze leftovers - don't allow wastage.
6. Recycle.
7. Install solar panels.
8. Buy minimally packaged goods.
9. Avoid preheating oven before using to reduce power consumption.

Outside your house
1. Shop local (support neighborhood businesses)
2. Shop smart (no impulse buying)
3. Bike, walk, and use public transport (sometimes) instead of using your car.
4. Use refillable water bottles.
5. Bring your own bags when you shop (reduce the circulation of polythene bags).
6. Vaccinate yourself and your family.

At work
1. If you can't finish your food/beverages/fruits, etc., give your colleagues. Don't throw food away.
2. Mentor/educate young people about climate change.
3. Ensure equal pay for equal work, regardless of the gender.
4. Make sure your company uses energy saving appliances and bulbs.

The fight against climate change cannot be won by a few or only environmental activists. We all need to come together at a common front and deliver a desirable environment into the hands of our children.

Monday 23 July 2018

UDOL/IEMA Seminar Highlights on Skills for a Sustainable Economy

The University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) in partnership with Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), organized a seminar on “Developing Skills for a Sustainable Economy” last month in Port Harcourt. and we were in attendance. The seminar revolved around human and business interactions with the environment, the global mega-trends & how we respond to them, and the necessary skills for a sustainable economy. The highlights of the seminar are as follows;

  • The typical Nigerian business has its impacts directly and indirectly on the environment through its processes or operations and through the supply chain channels. Businesses in Nigeria should therefore always have business sustainability as their watchword. While some businesses such as a bank typically believes its operations are environment friendly and as such can be considered sustainable enough. However, one of the factors to consider before giving out a loan should be whether or not the loan receiver is opting for an investment that is environment friendly or not. It is therefore pertinent to come to terms with the fact that sustainability itself, most times, is not about the primary physical operations but also about the impact the resources within us make.

  • Our current population is growing at an alarming rate such that Nigeria would be the 5th most populous country in the world by 2050, ahead of Indonesia and behind the USA. The current global mega-trend is such that the effect of population growth would be exacerbated if the economic development does not augur with the predicted growth. With Nigeria winning the award of World’s Poverty capital according to the World Bank, we should get ready for what is to come. The indices of Population, Education and Economic Prosperity cannot be overemphasized as they remain juxtaposed in the development of a nation.

  • Climate change is a global mega-trend whose negative impacts we are currently facing. Effects such as flooding, water stress, pollution, soil degradation & desertification, and droughts are environmental issues we have come to terms with almost on a daily basis. It has been projected that by 2050, 50% of yields from Agriculture will be lost in some African countries and about 60% of the global population will face water issues by the same year if nothing is done. While 52% of agricultural land is already affected by moderate to severe degradation, there will be 60% increase in food demand to feed 9.7billion humans by 2050.

  • The sustainability challenge must be our core idealism as we hope to develop on all facets, and this development must happen within our means. In 2017, Kate Raworth developed a module known as The Doughnut of Planetary Boundaries, which aims to create a safe space within which we as humans must operate to keep us from shooting above the ecological ceiling and face the consequences. We must therefore ensure our social foundation and economic policies are hinged on sustainable factors such as water, food, energy, education, social equity, political voice, housing, networks, gender equality etc. These factors, if maintained are going to keep us within the cycle of regenerative and distributive economy, otherwise known as the safe and just space for humanity. Once we overshoot, we begin to face the negative impacts such as climate change, ozone layer depletion, biodiversity loss, air pollution, freshwater withdrawals, etc.
The Doughnut of Planetary Boundaries - Kate Raworth (2017)

  • Our responses must be intentional. The purpose of a business must be redefined around creating shared value, according to Michael Porter and Daniel Kramer. Sustainability must become the key driver of innovation such that only companies that make sustainability a goal will achieve competitive advantage. For corporate sustainability to have meaning, there must be a rethinking of business models, products, technologies and processes. And as United Nations Global Impact puts it, corporate sustainability is a company’s delivery of long-term value in financial, environmental, social and ethical terms. The SDGs and Africa Goals must come to fore in terms of business practices.
Our economy in in dire need of sustainable agents who are passionate about restoring the planet to what is used to be. Innovation needs to be the drive even as opportunities are spotted, organizations must ensure their structures and processes need to be tailored around sustainability. Skills for shaping sustainable business practice must be enshrined in the operational management of organizations. Perhaps, individuals, government and organizations can finally foster a healthy competition in terms of environmental sustainability and a sustainable economy as a whole.

Friday 20 July 2018

New Satellite Data Reveals Progress: Global Gas Flaring Declined in 2017
Gas Flaring

New satellite data released today shows a significant decline in gas flaring at oil production sites around the world in 2017, despite a half-percent increase in global oil production. The nearly 5 percent flaring decline begins to reverse years of increases in global gas flaring that started in 2010.
The data reveals about 141 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas was flared in 2017, down from nearly 148 bcm in 2016. While Russia remains the world’s largest gas flaring country, it also saw the largest decline in flaring last year. Venezuela and Mexico also reduced their flaring significantly in 2017. In Iran and Libya there were notable increases in gas flaring.
The data was released by the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR), a World Bank-managed organization comprised of governments, oil companies, and international institutions working to reduce gas flaring. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and GGFR have developed the flaring estimates in cooperation with the University of Colorado, based on observations from advanced sensors in a satellite launched in 2012.
Gas flaring – the burning of natural gas associated with oil extraction – takes place because of technical, regulatory, and/or economic constraints. It causes more than 350 million tons of CO2 emissions every year, with serious harmful impacts from un-combusted methane and black carbon emissions. Gas flaring is also a substantial waste of energy resources the world can ill afford.
“The latest global gas flaring data is encouraging, but we will have to wait a few more years to know whether it represents a much-needed turning point,” said Riccardo Puliti, the World Bank’s Senior Director and head of its Energy & Extractives Global Practice. “Ending routine gas flaring is a key component of our climate change mitigation agenda, and the global flaring reduction Initiative we launched just three years ago now has 77 endorsers, covering about 60 percent of the total gas flared around the world.”
In 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and 25 initial endorsers launched the “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” Initiative that commits endorsers to not routinely flare gas in new oil field developments and to seek solutions to end routine flaring at existing oil production sites as soon as possible and no later than 2030. It has now been endorsed by 27 governments, 35 oil companies, and 15 development institutions.
“The Initiative is an essential tool for ending routine flaring,” said Bjorn Hamso, GGFR’s Program Manager. “Going forward, it is paramount that oil field operators continue to address ongoing “legacy” flaring, and that new business models are developed that will enable more investors to participate in flaring reduction projects.”

Source: World Bank

Monday 16 July 2018

How Nigeria plays big in $370bn global plastics market

With Indorama-Eleme Petrochemicals churning out the required raw materials in the plastics industry, Nigeria is set to play big in the $370bn global plastics market now in existence, though Nigeria also faces huge risks in the emerging risks in beat pollution especially cancer and other poisons caused by plastics.

This is as a professor of environmental studies and senior research adviser in Shell, Arthur Essaghah, has raised alarm, saying six particular chemicals used in the production of plastics cause canncer and kill over one million sea birds and over 700 organisms per year.

Also, over 150m tonnes of plastics are now sitting in the oceans of the world as wastes, and could overtake the population of fish stock in the oceans by 2050. Packaging is said to cause up to 44 per cent of plastics produced in both the developed and developing worlds.

There were fallouts that seemed to shock students from best science schools in Nigeria that converged at Shell Residential Area in Port Harcourt last week Monday to showcase their inventions at a STEM exhibition (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Nigeria had whittled down to about 15 plastics companies by 2006 when the then Eleme Petrochemicals Limited (EPLC) had become moribund. The entry of Indorama who acquired majority shares and revamped the place caused a boom leading to the emergence of over 350 plastics making companies that easily source their raw materials (polymer, polyproplene, etc) from IEPCL which now has a fertlizer plant. Nigeria also exports polymers these days.

These have boosted the use of plastics in Nigeria, adding to the global market and global beat plastics pollution with Nigeria is leader in Africa and also with highest exposure risk to cancer and other dangers, accoring to experts from various segments of the science field.

Shell and Science

The moderator, one Mr Michael, livened the young audience with his spices on Shell’s love for inventions and sciences with the drive to contribute knowledge to the world.

The event was Shell’s ‘The NXPlorer’ which seeks to identify future scientists and inventors now. The moderator observed that Nigeria must make a point in the world and that Shell is therefore in search of those who could be the next explorers. The company thus decided to look for them in schools in some parts of Nigeria. Some students in those selected schools were being supported to conduct research and present their works at an annual exhibition.

The schools that came for exhibition at the Shell RA on July 9, 2018, which so far worked on a selected innovative scheme include: Arch-Deacon Brown Educational Centre (ABEC) now managed by Ibim Semenitari which showcased a sewage conversion/purification machine; Bloombreed High School run by wife of a former Shell MD which presented a hydro-electric wheel; Brookstone International Secondary School which unveiled an electro-irrigation machine; Bishop Crowther Memorial Secondary School with a mini hydro-electric generator that supplies light too; Jephthah Comprehensive Secondary School which came with a Bio-Gas production system; and Oginigba Comprehensive School which showcased a hydro-electric water filtration machine that also used water to generate electricity.

Some important organisations that graced the STEM exhibition include Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) and British Council. The slogan on the lips of most persons at the sexhibition is solving tomorrow’s problem, now.

Alarm over beat plastics pollution

The professor, Arthur Essaghah, made earthshattering revelations in his paper that often makes waves at scientific exhibitions and global environment seminars especially where the new threat, plastics, is being reviewed.

He described the Earth as home to humanity where humans were mere guests. He however said humans seem to be bad guests that love to go against every single rule. “It is said that the fight against poverty and drive to create prosperity cannot succeed without a healthy environment”.

Rapid growth, rapid threat

The professor went into history and revealed that plastics were first produced in 1907 but commercial plastics were produced in 1950. Most plastics are not bio-degradable and so take up to 1000 years to decompost. Now, production has grown from 2 million metric tonnes in 1950 to 355 million metric tones in 2016.

This is estimated to grow up to 2000 million metric tonnes by 2050. In fact, plastics in the oceans of the world would grow more than fish stock in the oceans, he said. This is where platics have been implicated in death of fish at sea.

The audience winced when he revealed that 500Bn platics bags are used per year as one million plastic bottles are bought per minute. The packaging industry is $370bn big as packaging alone contributes between 35 and 44 per cent use of plastics; 150m tonnes of platics are right now in the oceans with about 30,000 tonnes per km in the oceans.

Production of plastics has increased from seven per cent to 18, and out of 8.3Bn plastics produced, 6.3Bm or 79 per cent turns into waste and 40 per cet ends up in the oceans. This has been implicated in the poisoning of water and other aquatic resources.

Now, The students were infomed that the following additives during production of plastics were found by scientists to be harmful: Monomers of Polyurethanes (PUR),  (PAN) & PVC are most hazardous. Monomers of PE, PP and polyvinyl acetate (PVA) are least hazardous; Solvents (e.g. methanol, cyclohexane); Initiators (potassium persulfate); Catalysts like ZnO & CuCl2 are toxic; Bisphenol-A (BPA) in water & baby bottles – BPA is an endocrine disruptor; Dioxins in PVC; Phthalates & other plasticizers (in PVC and other plastics) are endocrine disruptors; Styrene in taka-way containers – linked to respiratory/cancer problems; Antimony leachates cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach ulcers.

Beyond poison

Beyond poison, the expert said beat plastics pollution leads to waste management challenges, thus: 22 per cent  of plastic wastes get to landfills in developing countries; 10 per cent in Africa; up to 60-170m tonnes are left in streets/drains/streams; Lack of plastic waste policy & management systems; Lack of incentives/financial instruments/EPR; Plastics are not separated from other wastes; Weak management institutions & management systems; Sub-standard plastic bags (less than 20mm thick) is the bane of plastic waste problem; Poor collection, collation / sorting; Low plastic recycling; Challenges of recycling.

Handling of plastics is said to be lousy but this ranges from country to country. Less than 10 per cent of plastics waste ends up in dumpsites.

As a way out, the expert recommended many measures from global to community levels. Some of the suggestions include: Develop & enforce policies; Set plastic waste limits, DRSs, EPR; Set targets/incentives for recycling; Subsidies &tax credits for recycling; Ban on plastic bag; Use of bio-based plastics; and building new habits such as buying more of biodegradable plastics, reducing use of plastics, etc.

Source: Business Day 

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Nigeria Launches Green Bond Program

Green Bond
Source: Sundiata

Mrs. Patience Oniha, Director-General, Debt Management Office, DMO, reports that the Federal Government is planning to issue N10.6 billion green bonds to finance Renewable Energy projects to protect the environment. She said that the issuance of these bonds will help Nigeria meet its Paris Agreement commitments.

On March 20, Nigeria received the 2018 Green Bonds Award under the category of “New Countries Taking Green Bonds Global” at the Annual Green Bonds Conference in London, UK. The award was received by Ambassador Kabiru Bala, Deputy High Commissioner/Head of Mission, Nigeria High Commission, London.

Green Bonds are like regular bonds, but with a slight difference – they can only be used to fund projects that have been identified to have environmental benefits, with their contribution to emissions reduction clearly articulated.

“The issuance of a green bond by Nigeria delivers on Programme 47 of its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), in addition to meeting the expectations of Article 2 of the Paris Agreement,” said the Ambassador.

The Environment Minister of State, Usman Jibril, submitted and stated – “This further reinforces Nigeria’s re-emergence as a major player in the international climate regime and President Muhammadu Buhari’s strides in moving Nigeria to a low carbon economy.

“Nigeria takes pride in being the first African country to issue a Sovereign Green Bond and the forth in the world. Today’s event marks a unique and historic day in the efforts of Nigeria in tackling climate change.”

Nigeria’s recent issuance of the Sovereign Green Bond (or Climate Bond) apparently influenced its three-star rating in the monthly assessment of 20 countries (including the EU) with high emission levels.