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Renewable Energy: HOMEF, Stakeholders Ensures Human Face on Energy Transition

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Renewable Energy: HOMEF, Stakeholders Ensures Human Face on Energy Transition

By Katherine Abayomi, Port Harcourt

The Nigerian government has been charged with considering communities’ needs while shifting to renewable energy. Health of Mother Earth Foundation, in a one-day capacity-building workshop on Renewable Energy and Just Transition, calls for environmental and climate justice in Nigeria.

Participants at the event included stakeholders representing the State Ministry of Agriculture, civil society groups, stakeholders from various communities, and opinion leaders and staff of the State House of Assembly. It also included representatives from the State Ministry of Environment, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the need for community engagement, focus on issues of climate injustice, and the need to sensitize people to the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy was the focus.

The meeting X-rayed the aim of increasing awareness on the issues of climate injustice, emphasizing the need for people’s sensitisation, and the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy. It also enlightens government agencies on how to mainstream community concerns into government projects and educate communities on ways to prevent the challenges faced in the oil and gas civilization in the Renewable Energy era.

Project Lead Fossil Fuel at HOMEF Stephen Oduware noted that the event targets the need for the government to wear a human face in their dealings with communities. “Communities need to be consulted; they need to be part of the process. Communities also need to own the process; they are supported and need to be protected against harm. They should be open to renewable energy projects but ensure their rights are not usurped. Communities need to examine their offers and make informed decisions critically.

Oduware stated that in a recent community survey by HOMEF on community perception about Renewable Energy and climate change, Oduware said communities are aware of the change and willing to participate. “We found out that community people are very knowledgeable about some of these issues and willing to participate in the Renewable Energy discourse. It is now left for us to ensure that their concerns are mainstreamed in this discourse and to ensure that we do not use it as an avenue to dispossess them, suppress them, oppress them, grab their land, or grab their water, and make them go into hardship like the oil civilization has done. So, we are up for justice even in this Renewable Energy discourse.

Other speakers at the event noted the right approach and rules for effective engagement for government projects, will improve community involvement.

The Executive Director of Kebetkache Woman Development Resource Centre, Dr. Emem Okon, represented by Dr. Constance Otikor Samuel in her presentation: Mainstreaming Gender in Renewable Energy discourse, looked at how female gender should be given a chance to be involved in this renewable Energy transition by way of inclusion. She calls on stakeholders and community leaders present to disabuse the notion that the male gender should benefit more but understands that the narratives have changed. The female gender has something more to offer than just domestic activities.

A lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Fidelis Allen, represented by Dr. Boma Amaso, spoke on “Fossil Fuel Environmental/Climate Justice and the Needed Transition.” He noted that the damage caused by climate change has been detrimental to social, economic, and public health.

“We should embrace renewable energy to reduce the adverse effects on the environment, including flooding, hunger, loss of properties, and global poverty. It is time to use new, renewable energy and leave the old fossil fuel because it’s safer and cheaper. It is the duty of those who have made the earth hot also to find a solution to fix the problem, but this has not been the case; he calls it injustice on the climate and climate Justice”.

He calls on the House of Assembly to make laws to ensure that the people and communities are protected from the impact of climate change and make laws to ensure the transition. “The government should begin to make plans not on paper alone but in action; there must be a proper transition. Civil society organisations, community groups, and individuals should put pressure on the government, let these companies know their obligations, and fulfill all promised enacted laws and policies that protect our environment, Dr. Boma stated.

HOMEF explains that renewable energy is obtained from natural sources such as wind and sun. Stakeholders and participants were admonished to denounce what has been learned for their communities, homes, and neighborhoods and join the fight for Justice in all that is done to communities.

It was noted that renewable energy will ensure that there is no emission of CO2, which is one of the gases causing global warming so that renewable energy can be handled. The mode of Energy we should have, who should own it, what the ideal ways of government should relate to its communities should be, and how to bring all gender voices into the discussion.

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