The Chairman, Board of Trustees, Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDeVNet), a Civil Society Network Dr Ibrahim Choji has said that Nigeria must take immediate action on air pollution to save lives.
Choji made the call in a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja to commemorate the 2019 World Environment Day, which was marked on June 5.
“The day is celebrated yearly as a day for encouraging international awareness and action to protect the environment.
“It presents a veritable opportunity to call upon the Nigerian government, industries, communities and individuals to take action to explore renewable energy and green technologies, improve air quality in cities and villages across Nigeria.
“This year’s theme: ‘Beating Air Pollution’ is apt as air pollution is a deadly, man-made problem and responsible for the early deaths of about seven million people every year, and about 600,000 are children.’’
He said that CSDevNet considered uncontaminated air, clean water, adequate sanitation and a non-toxic environment as core components of the right to healthy living, which the Nigerian constitution upholds.
“The right to a healthy environment is fundamental to human well-being and it must be nationally reaffirmed to ensure the enjoyment of this right by every Nigerian everywhere.
“The air quality in Nigeria is more likely to cause harm than the air in any other country in Africa as the country currently has the highest burden of fatalities from air pollution in the continent, and the fourth highest in the world.’’
According to him, the annual State of the Global Air Report published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) reckons that air quality in Nigeria is among the deadliest anywhere on earth.
“It is higher than ambient air pollution death rates as a result of the environmental hazards combined with extreme pollution sources such as soot, gas flaring, generator fumes, vehicle emissions and crop burning among others.’’
Choji said that Nigeria was currently at a crossroad when it came to renewable energy and clean mobility.
“On the one hand, the country has one of the lowest on-grid energy consumption levels in the world, while on the other, the country is facing one of the fastest vehicle growth rates.
“It is grappling with mobility challenges in terms of congestion costs, air pollution and its impact on health, inadequate infrastructure and costs to the economy.
“The above leaves the country with no option than to take decisive actions capable of engendering a cleaner, more sustainable, low carbon emission pathway.
“If the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) of the government and the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement are to be realised.’’
To address these challenges and map out a cleaner pathway for Nigeria, CSDevNet therefore urged the Federal Government to take action on implement and enforce strictly.
“Government should also take action on the existing National Ambient Air Quality Standards, tax every form of pollution including vehicular, gas flaring, and bush burning.
“End fossil fuel subsidies and oil prospecting activities in northern Nigeria, and halt the seeming embrace of coal and nuclear sources for energy.’’
The civil society network which is an affiliate of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) also suggested the creation of the required minimum enabling environment capable of supporting the shift to cleaner mobility and energy choices
“Advance the renewable energy agenda with emphasis on liberalising energy generation and transmission thereby boosting local manufacturing options.
“Stringently regulate the importation of used vehicles as a means for the country to quickly shift to cleaner mobility.
“Promote sustainable transport infrastructure by integrating cleaner mobility in national and state development strategies.’’
According to Choji, these measures will go a very long way in changing the dynamics of environmental degradation in Nigeria for the better.