The Cross River state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade on Tuesday described calls by some developed countries for an end to fossil fuel extraction as a mitigative action against climate change as harmful to the Nigerian economy.
Ayade spoke at the sidelines of the ongoing 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) holding in Paris France. The governor who is also the President of African Governors Forum on Climate Change said use of renewable energy must follow the pace of development by developing nations whose economy depends on oil.
Ayade’s position comes in great contrast to that of many developed countries that have canvassed for an end to fossil fuel extraction. Also, many civil society organizations have identified ‘big oil’ as a primary cause of climate change.
But Ayade, who is also a Professor of Environmental Science said without alternatives, Nigeria would continue to develop her fossil fuel economy but with controlled measure. This he said would ensure that those who depend on the oil would continue to be protected without the huge exposure of the atmosphere to hydro carbon.
“Renewable energy is not the way for Africans at this point in time, renewable energy means put an end to the sale of your hydro carbon, it means Nigeria should stop exporting crude oil, but they are busy doing research, inventing technology using solar energy and wind power. When all of that happens, when the oil price goes down, when you stop producing oil, what are you going to use as an alternative? The misbalancing of the livelihood, what is the alternative to that? Renewable energy must follow with development, it must follow with technology, Africa cannot be in a haste to adopt renewable technology,” Ayade said.
The governor decried the attitude by African countries where everything adopted in the West is copied without adequate reflection whether it works for the African environment. “We must go in pace with our own technology at our pace and that is the problem we have also taken into politics. We practice presidential system of government that is being practiced by advanced western world who have 200 years of democracy,” he said.
Explaining further, the governor explained that taking the hydro carbon out of the soil is necessary to avoid natural disasters. “When you talk about renewable energy, it is complaining against the economy of developing countries. Don’t forget, as we refuse to take off the hydro carbon, geothermal pressure occurs in the sub soil and in the span of years, volcanic eruptions will naturally occur. So you need to actually take them out
“You must have controlled utilization and the focus will be if you are taking off hydrocarbon can you plant more trees particularly carnivorous species like pines and oak trees that have the capacity to take off the carbon dioxide. I would rather have you use fossil fuel with mitigate measures than to cap it and focus on renewable energy. While that technology works for them, it is harmful for our economy,” he said.
The governor decried the beggarly attitude of African countries saying Africa has a key resource in her forests which must be developed to conserve carbon.
Ayade said: “As Africans, we must shut our doors and reinvent ourselves; adaptation is not the way to go because it is adjusting yourself to live with the situation, mitigation is the way to go and when you are dealing with mitigation, the focus would have been planting more trees, seeing how you can go for greener technology.
“But I ask you as we come here for COP21 what is Africa’s position, what have we brought to the negotiation table, we cannot continue to play the role of a victim, Africans own the largest tropical rainforest, and we stand at the middle between the West and the East. It is that place that sinks all the carbon dioxide that comes even from the US, Canada, Asia, they all come into Africa.
“So Africa is the sink, Africa must have a stronger say and have their own pre-COP conference before they come to COP. Africa’s negotiation must be single, firm, clear. Africa cannot come cap in hand always looking for alms. That is what I want to say that Africa must stop coming to the international community to seek funds, we must seek technology, seek equality and relevance, because indeed, it is one of the most blessed continent.”
Meanwhile, this year’s Calabar festival will have Climate Change as its theme. The governor explained that it is to call attention to the issue of a changing world. “We are using the carnival to create practical solution. I am looking at green police, a massive number of young men and women whose business is to grow new trees and safeguard existing ones,” Ayade said.