The debate on climate change is among the most presently discussed topics on the surface of the earth. All these years, I have, going by the commentaries from the Western world, believed that Africa’s non commitment to the call for global action on climate change was responsible for the real and imaginary challenges confronting the continent.
Making this perceived climate change challenge look real was the recent news report that to tackle the problems, the World Bank Group had committed about $70 billion, and urged governments of different nations to set up structures to engage and access the fund.
However, such a belief system recently underwent a positive transformation while listening to Professor Tosan Harriman, of Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria.
Tosan, who spoke at GbaramatuVoice Niger Delta Economic Discourse series held in Warri, Delta State, among other things said; “the truth is this, we saw the hypocrisy of these people (Western worlds) recently when, because of the Ukraine-Russian war, they are not talking anymore about clean energy, rather we see them go back again focusing on coal, getting out coal to drive the heat.
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Africa cannot give away its resources because Africa doesn’t need the English of climate change, our continent is blessed, our continent has resources, our continent is galvanizing on those resources to ensure there’s a global world order. Taking Africa’s resources from Africa is like committing Africa to another new colonial tendency that will finally incapacitate it in the global situation of things and that’s exactly what my argument has been.
So quickly therefore, let’s have our mindset reconstructed about the fact that we are not a danger to Europe and America, we are not a danger to politics of climate change. The only grammar behind climate change is economy.
If they take from you the resources that offered you comparative advantage, it opens them up to their economic value in the context of a global chain, in the context of a global productivity chain, it opens them up to their own economic value where they now begin to sell clean energy to people like us in Africa who don’t need it. It’s so important we have these facts properly straightened out before we get into this other issue’’.
The world has been talking about clean energy, what we call resistance against greenhouse gas emission. The kind of carbon deducted from the exploration of our crude oil, those are the carbons that we have and that’s what the world has been talking about. They needed clean energy that would help the Arctic Circle maintain its height and then help the entire Ecosystem to be properly balanced along the lines of certain determination that they thought had been there from the beginning and all of that.
In Europe and America, if you actually desire clean energy, you should not in the 21st century be talking about coal because coal is all about greenhouse gas emission. If you go to the home of the Queen, you will see them using coal and I keep making this argument that if Norway as a nation has the level of oil we have, nobody will be talking about greenhouse gas, nobody will be talking about climate change and I have always held the position that every nation should be allowed to grow within the context of his own resources.
He said that the best the world can do, which is an issue he raised at the Cairo 27th conference recently held, is that we should look at the conditions of African nations, what we call the dependent nations and all of that, dependent on the global world situation and all of that.
We should look at their conditions, and we can’t take from them the issues that directly propel their own sustenance; we can’t be talking of climate change when the entire nation of Africa depends on what creates a greenhouse. The best we can do is to scientifically, now begin to look at this resource and then redesign it in such a way as to mitigate the fears that are already being expressed by these other groups fighting for climate change. Those are the issues we raised, and it’s so profound that the world needs to hear us. He concluded.
Comparatively, while Professor Tosan’s ideology/argument made a whole lot of sense to me, I however, still recall how Mr Ronald Kayanja, Director, the United Nation Information Centre (UNIC), spoke on the same topic (climate change) but maintained a different view. This was at a function on Friday 20th September 2019, in Lagos, to mark the years’ International Day of Peace which had as a theme; Climate Action For Peace. Kayanja’s understanding and postulations about climate change was a direct opposite of Tosan’s argument.
Apart from Kayanjas’, definition of climate change as changes in these weather patterns over several decades or more which makes a place become warmer or receives more rain or get drier, what made the lecture ‘’crucial’’ was the awareness on the dangers of, and warning on the urgent need to address climate changes which he said have become even clearer with the release of a major report in October 2018 by the world-leading scientific body for the assessment of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), warning that in order to avoid catastrophe, we must not reach 1.5 C and 2oC..
In a similar style, Kayanja in that presentation used analytical methods and properly framed arguments to underline how; current conflict in North-East Nigeria is not unrelated to the changes in climate in that region over time. As well as provides a link as to how; climate change challenge also sets the stage for the farmer and herder violence witnessed in parts of West Africa and many countries that face violent conflicts in Africa: Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Sudan (Darfur), Mali and the Central Africa Republic.
He argued that local tensions over access to food and water resources can spill over into neighbouring countries, as people seek to find additional resources and safety – placing more strain on the resources of those countries, which could amplify tensions. In these instances, climate change does not directly cause conflict over diminishing access to resources, but it multiplies underlying natural resource stresses, increasing chances of a conflict.
As to what should be done to this appalling situation, the UN boss said that the UN Secretary-General has made climate action a major part of his global advocacy, calling on all member states to double their ambition to save our planet.
For me, as the debate rages, it is important to underline that Kayanja’s position looks alluring in principle. But then, this piece holds the opinion that African leaders and policymakers must not allow the propositions canvassed by Tosan Harriman, go with political winds.
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos.