Nigeria’s ranking on air pollution, green energy stirs controversy

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Nigeria’s ranking on air pollution, green energy stirs controversy

The impact of Nigerians and their activities on the environment became a subject of controversy yesterday as a global study ranked the country high. A new study from MoneySuperMarket on how people impact their environment, from different countries around the world highlights individual contribution to the world’s climate as well as areas for improvement for each country.

The study identified the biggest contributors to negative environmental impact, but the surprising results placed five African countries in the top 10 for lowest environmental impact. Nigeria ranked highly (35th position) as one of the countries with the least environmental impact. Over 20 per cent of Nigeria’s energy comes from green sources, according to the report. In the same vein, Nigeria’s Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions equate to only 0.5 tonnes per person, compared to Mozambique’s levels of just 0.1 tonnes per person. Its air pollution rates are at levels of 8.5 µg/m3.

The researchers provided a breakdown of the different measurements that make up the average individual human impact in each country, including energy consumption, air pollution and reliance on non-renewable energy.

Mozambique was number one in the global rankings, with the lowest human impact on the environment per person, as nearly all (97 per cent) of the energy they use is produced from green energy. The country, according to the report, only produces 0.14 kg of waste per person per day, just as the United States produces 2.58 kg per person).

Africa as a continent topped the charts and featured strongly in their use of green energy, their low CO2 emissions and their low levels of air pollution and waste production. Ethiopia, Zambia, Kenya and Ghana also ranked first, third, fifth and seventh  respectively.

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But Nnimo Bassey, an environmentalist who runs the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), says Nigeria should avoid being complacent in the face of the seemingly favourable report. “There are other factors,” he argues, “ and we have to consider the fact that Nigeria’s environment is extremely polluted (in some areas) with dead environment that will never recover. Many of the rivers in the Niger Delta — even the ones in Kano — are polluted,” Mr. Bassey told The Guardian on his way to the Yar Adua Centre, Abuja venue of today’s conference on Food Security in Niger Delta.

Obinna Chidoka, who chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Environment, also takes the report with a pinch of salt. Like the HOMEF director, the lawmaker believes that the report “clearly” underscores “our slow pace or lack of industrialisation and, in real terms, does not portray Nigeria in good light.” “This is not to our advantage,” he says in response to a query on whether or not the new ranking is a plus for Nigeria’s compliance level with the Paris Climate Change Agreement. “In Nigeria, we have gas plants without gas to power them, yet we flare gas. Solar energy contributes less than 0.1 percent renewable energy.” Nigeria arguably ranks highest in gas flaring.

Chidoka, who represents the Idemmili Federal Constituency, said Nigeria’s Internally Determined Contribution (IDC) in keeping with the Paris Agreement has remained very low because “we do not speak the same language on roadmap in our drive.” The intended nationally determined contribution to the Paris agreement is specifically based on reduction of carbon emission and gas flaring.

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According to Chidoka, the report “might sound good on the face value but we do know that there is a lot of work to be done.”He said Nigeria Paris had already banned use of plastic materials, including cups and spoons, beginning from next year (2018). “Vehicles of 10 tears and above are also banned in Paris. But here in Nigeria, we have vehicles of 25 years and above. We just need to give the Paris Agreement a bite here in Nigeria.”

Asked what the legislature and his House Committee on Environment were doing to change, the lawmaker remarked that he had “moved for the Waste Management Bill for waste management professionals.” According to Chidoka, the “laws and agencies of the Federal Ministry of Environment are obsolete” and the bill — which has passed the second reading in the House and now awaiting public hearing — will, upon its passage as law, create the Environmental Practitioners Council (EPC) to certify professionals. “One of the intendments of the bill is to regulate their activities and certify them as environmentalists …so that everyone will be protected,” Chidoka told The Guardian on telephone.

Ethiopia scored particularly low in its energy consumption, with each person only using an average of 1.75 BTUs per year. By contrast, Trinidadians top the list, using a grand total of 757.54 BTUs per year. Zambia had the lowest CO2 emissions, with only 0.07 tonnes per person, whereas in Trinidad and Tobago, the worst country for environmental impact, the CO2 emissions are an average of 37.1 tonnes per person.

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Kenyans ranked well with the third lowest air pollution rates (4.3 µg/m3). In comparison, China has the worst air pollution (47.2 µg/m3). Ghana ranked seventh and have the lowest municipal waste level per person (0.09 kg per day), compared to Irish citizens who amass 3.58 kg per day.

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