BusinessDay

Nigerians urged to embrace alternative fuel to cushion global energy crisis

As the nations of the world initiate transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy to mitigate the current global energy crises, Nigerians have been advised to embrace alternative sources of energy that are sustainable.

Akin Abayomi, Lagos State commissioner for health, who gave the advice, also challenged religious bodies in Nigeria to use their pulpit to drive advocacy on the need for a sustainable lifestyle.

He threw the challenge during an interview on the sideline of a recent one-day conference in Lagos on “journeying and listening together: energy crisis and sustainable lifestyle for church and state” which was organised by the Ecology Work Group of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.

Abayomi said churches needed to become more actively involved in the gospel of a sustainable lifestyle that can bring peace to the environment and guarantee an abundance of food and healthy energy.

“Please get involved with practical initiatives in environmental preservation,” Abayomi told the participants which include the leadership and members of the Catholic Church in Lagos led by the Lagos Archbishop, Alfred Adewole Martin.

The commissioner stated that the church has enormous influence on the people and that it was high time the church led the advocacy for alternative sources of energy geared towards replacing fossil fuels. Such alternative energy, according to him included solar power, wind energy, hydro energy, biomass energy, tidal energy, and geothermal energy.

In his paper titled “global energy and environmental crisis,” Abayomi, who was the guest speaker, said the energy crisis around the world has led to a concern that the world’s demands on the limited natural resources that are used to power industrial society are diminishing as the demand rises.

The environmental and economic effects of the situation, he highlighted are the increase in the energy and electricity costs with gas prices rising by about 47 percent, an increase in the cost of doing business, unemployment, global warming, etc.

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Abayomi listed as mitigating equity and global stability, factors such as overpopulation, war and attacks, wastage, aging energy infrastructure, inequitable overconsumption, and unexplored renewable energy.

While calling for joint action in Africa, he disclosed that Africa contributes four percent of the global carbon dioxide yet is most affected by climate change as half of every ten countries affected by extreme weather in 2019 are from Africa.

He said the rising cost of energy was driving the use of alternative energy and that Africa is in a terrible situation as 90 percent of West African forest cover has been lost in the last 100 years and Nigeria alone loses 350,000 hectares to destruction yearly.

Also speaking, the archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewole Martins lamented that many activities have given rise to climate change, the consequences of which are now staring the society in the face.

He stated that the climate change has manifested itself in varied and unprecedented ways such as heat waves that have led to the uncontrolled forest fires devastating huge swathes of land, progressing desertification, rising sea levels leading to the destructive floods and landslides, chemical and technological pollution leading to depletion of biodiversity, and destruction of the ecosystem.

“We are faced with the results of our collective and individual lifestyles and habits that lead to depletion of species of animals and plants and the pollution of the earth, turning it into what the Pope calls a pile of filth,” the clergy noted.

According to clergyman, the conference was the church’s response to the call by Pope Francis some seven years ago when he released his encyclical LAUDATO SI translated to Care for our home.

“The document centered on the care for the earth, our common home, environmental pollution challenges, and the persistent poverty facing the world,” he added.

Regrettably, Martins said as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ease, the world is faced with other crises which have local and global dimensions, that is, the energy crisis and the looming food crisis, the impact of which would be huge and unimaginable, if necessary steps are not taken and quickly too.

“Should we as a church not be concerned? Should we as a people not worry? We should all be and that is why I hope this conference will provide the platform for strategizing together on what must be done in order to heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor,” he stressed.

Buttressing the need for urgent lifestyle changes in the environment is a concern, Abayomi said Lagos was one of the six world cities heavily polluted through air pollution, water pollution, and exposure to lead. He mentioned other cities like Los Angeles, New Delhi, Beijing, London, and Santiago.

To address the environmental challenges, he said Lagos was committed to improving air quality and that should Lagos achieve the target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it could prevent 2,800 deaths and 155,000 hospitalisations, reduce 2,300 asthma incidences and save up to $2.3billion annually.

Prescribing solutions to the environmental challenges, he urged the church to be actively involved and use the pulpit to drive advocacy on the need for a sustainable lifestyle. The church, he advised, should go practical and preach a sustainable lifestyle; going green, reforestation, and preservation of life.

Contributing to the discussion, dean, Lagos Island Deanery, Julius Olaitan, pointed out that there was the need for a dialogue with nature and dialogue with man to resolve the crisis in the environment.

He also said there was a need to bring the entire human family together for enlightenment and to see a sustainable lifestyle. Drawing from his experience as parish priest, Olaitan enumerated steps they had taken as a church to reconcile with the environment.

Such steps he listed as “conserving the energy, use of energy-saving equipment, good maintenance culture, control of scavengers who litter the environment, reuse and recycle because concern for the environment is also a concern for life.”

Marie Fatayi-Williams, the coordinator of the Ecology Work Group, gave the rationale behind the conference as part of the efforts of the group to encourage and promote an environmental-friendly lifestyle.

She said the conference would also help aggregate steps to and mode of execution of activities that would promote healthy living with the environment which apart from human needs was also an instruction from God who is the creator of the earth and the man that lives on the earth.

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