As Nigeria joins the global community in marking the 2020 World Environment Day on Friday, June 5, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has called on the federal government to learn from the positive fallouts of the COVID-19 global shutdowns and save the nations environment through concrete steps aimed at transiting from fossil fuels.
CAPPA said its position is influenced by the reduced carbon emissions and better air quality that scientists have observed in some regions of the globe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic due to slowed industrial activities and limited human mobility.
The World Environment Day is held June 5 annually. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Biodiversity”, which underscores the importance of nature in providing the essential infrastructure that supports life on earth and human development.
According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the theme provides the driving momentum about nature in the lead up to the 15th meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was earlier billed for October 2020 but has been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement issued in Lagos, the group re-echoed the UN position that when man destroys biodiversity, the system that supports life itself is destroyed.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “The theme of this year’s World Environment Day commemoration reinforces our conviction that all hands must be on deck to save the environment. For Nigeria, the message is that it must wean itself of fossil fuels addiction and transit to clean and safe community-driven forms of energy that ensures harmony of nature and the people. Unfortunately, the current model that is reliant on fossil fuels has only brought on dislocation and disharmony.”
Oluwafemi explained that the negative effects of Nigeria’s fossil fuels-driven model of development is unquantifiable and is amply reflected in the parlous environment it has created in the Niger Delta and communities across the country where mineral extraction happen.
“The Ogoni situation and that of other oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta are in plain sight. We are now witnesses to fish dying in large numbers and washing up ashore in that region. We equally see the conflicts in communities where extractions occur occasioned by the quest of for-profit only entities to evict them from their ancestral lands so that they extract without resistance. It is happening in every part of the country,” said Oluwafemi.
He pointed out that while the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy, it equally offers lessons and opportunities that Nigeria and other nations of the world should take seriously to influence environmental actions.
According to him, it is time that the Nigerian government demonstrates seriousness by first stopping investments in new oil fields. He added that this should be followed up with a comprehensive environmental audit and clean up of the mess that fossil fuels has caused.
“Additionally, Nigeria must honour its climate commitments at global climate discussions which include introduction of mass transit to reduce the number of vehicles on our roads with positive impact on vehicular emissions, adoption of environment-friendly agricultural practices, and put in place a workable framework for adoption of clean energy forms, among others.
“The focus on nature to commemorate this global event should be a wakeup call to the Nigerian government. We must no longer delay our move from dirty energy and transit to clean and safe community-driven forms of energy. Talk is cheap. Action is what we need,” he insisted.