By: Smith Nwokocha
SCHOOL OF ECOLOGY (HEALTH OF MOTHER EARTH FOUNDATION) ORGANIZED A TWO-DAY WORKSHOP (26TH -27TH SEPTEMBER, 2022) ON “BLUE ECONOMY, DIVESTMENT AND THE END OF FOSSIL AGE” AT HAVILAH TOWERS GOLDEN SUITE HOTEL, UYO.
The training was moderated by Mfoniso Anita (HOMEF Team), followed by a warm welcome address by Nnimmo Bassey (Director, HOMEF). The Director of HOMEF emphasized that, the essence of this kind of training is to; “arm Africans with knowledge, so that Africa will not be a dumping ground”.
Before the shift for a “Blue Economy”, there has been emphasis on “Green Economy”, which in practice is more about placing nature in the marketplace. The idea however, was subverted. “Blue Economy”; idea looks at the Ocean as limitless. By 2050, we may have more plastics than fishes. Particularly, for those of us in the Niger Delta. The Ocean struggle is already around and pirates are on the Sea shores.
End Fossil Fuel: End War Ending the Fossil Age! By Nnimmo Bassey.
Distribution of Climate Impact. “The major driver of Climate Change is the burning of Fossil fuel”. Africa has contributed minimally to the distribution of Global warming, yet the most affected by the impact of Climate Change.
Today, Plantations are still meant for export. “Useful Africa”; it’s a territory of exploitation. Africa and a distorted rights to pollute. Ending the Oil age globally, yet digging for more fossils in Africa. Oil companies plan to sink $230billion in the next decade on new Oil and Gas projects and #1.4trillion by 2050.
“Progress that doesn’t speak with the people, will not be able to address the people”. Nnimmo Bassey. The rights to pollute or extract, is something we have to reject. At a time, when we are supposed to stop fossil fuel, the Oil industry is pumping more money. The sooner, the end of fossil fuel, the better.
Cut Emissions at Source, Climate Debt ignored, Climate Finance-Lip Service.
“If you don’t get the imagination right, you can’t get the money right”. France as a country, made a new law; you can’t get license to operate on fossil fuel.
Nature Based-Solutions. Supposed 2 trillion dollars for Climate Debt. Nature based solutions points towards fictional net-zero (nature absorbs carbon). It is a strategy to silent Africans. According to SHELL- defines “Nature based solutions as a project that protects Land”. The UNFCCC promotes negotiations between state parties and in an unfair and neo-colonial scenario, has transferred their responsibilities to the south. Carbon Market is “False Solutions”.
Simple Solution- “Leave the Oil in the Soil”. After Oil, we will flourish.
Ken Henshaw facilitated on “Examining Policy and Key Issues in Divestment in Nigeria”:
Since 2010, Multi-national Oil Companies have been selling off their On-Shores assets and moving further Off-shore.
Between 2010 and 2014, SHELL quietly sold off 8 Oil mining leases (OML) etc.
In February 2022, Exxon Mobil announced that it has reached an agreement to sell its equity interest etc.
Why are Companies really Divesting?
Clearly distraught by the ruling, SHELL’s CEO declared that “development like we are still seeing at the moment means that we have to take another hard look at our position in On-shore Oil in Nigeria. We cannot solve community problems in the Niger Delta, that’s for the Nigerian Government perhaps to solve”.
Gas Flaring: the environmental dangerous and resource wasteful phenomenon of Gas flaring has been in the Niger Delta for over 6 decades. Despite several flare out date instituted by Nigeria’s Federal Government since 1979.
A Crude Journey: British Colonialism awarded Oil exploration rights to SHELL D’Acry in 1938. The implementation of large extractive projects requires that the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people is sought and received before-hand.
‘’The Oil companies wants to leave Nigeria, the same way they came’’.
What is Nigeria’s Divestment Policy? Unfortunately, there is no Policy on Divestment by Nigeria.
What outlook should the Divestment Policy have? a). It should be restorative and corrective of the legacy of extraction. b) It should recognize the historical injustice meted on the people of Oil producing areas and aim to correct them. c) It should recognize that the fossil Age has come to prepare for a transition. d) It should be driven by We The People and not the markets. e). It should adequately establish the link between Oil and Gas extraction and Climate Change impact. f). Strengthening Climate Change adaptation strategies for impacted communities, including in food security, and in migration and housing.
Olatunji Buhari, on “How to Make Corporations pay in the issue of Divestment”; he emphasized that, we need to set the agenda for Divestment and it is our responsibilities as CSO’s, Citizens and Communities impacted by fossil fuel to hold our Government accountable, so that they can hold the Multi-Nationals in regards to restoration bond.
Sofiri Peterside (Prof): Concerning the New NNPC Ltd, it will no longer contribute to the Federal Government on Single Treasury Account. NNPC changing from State owned, now being Commercialized. The change in name will not make any difference in operation. Corruption, ethnicity is so endemic in this Company, how can it then operate efficiently.
Tijah Bolton Akpan: He covers the topic of “Does Nigeria’s PIA Establish Frameworks for a just Transition? Examining the Threats and Faults lines.” The challenges of the PIA is the “Process” and the “Corruption in the Process”. The PIA 2021, a unique opportunity but a missed one. The PIA was unique opportunity to rethink the role of the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria. The PIA ultimately fails to account for Climate Change, the Energy transition etc. What is a just energy transition? Energy transitions are about people and power. A just transition requires tackling the challenges faced by Communities and workers as they shift towards sustainable livelihoods…etc. According to Tijah, the following Steps should be adopted; Diversifying away from Oil, Investing in Clean Energy sources, Improving governance, Redressing legacy harms and addressing equity issues.
GLOBAL CONTEXT: An inevitable transition; The Oil Industry currently stands as one of the worst performing sectors in the S & P 580 Index. There are some ethical investors that are beginning to change/stop investment in the Oil Industry.
NATIONAL CONTEXT: A Petroleum predicament, Oil is big business for the Nigerian state, Defunding of Fossil fuel projects combined with the net zero carbon targets, Nigeria sits on the largest export earnings of the Oil and Gas in Sub-Saharan Africa.
What has the PIA done right with regards to the transition? Removal of dual, incestuous powers from the NNPC and transform it to a Public Limited Company. Provide two new regulators NUPRC and NMPDPRA, each for a section of the industry. Provide for transparency of contracts, licenses or leases. Attempt to create a governing framework for Community beneficiation. The Host Community Development Trust and Fund. The PIA provides for 3% OPEX to be contributed to the Community. Recommendations: Review the PIA etc.
Stephen Oduware…‘’IOC’s Divestment Moves’’: The Trilemma faced by Communities; a) Climate Change b) Pollution c) Divestment Drive. The voices of the affected Communities is very essential. Steps to achieving it is through; Advocacy visit, Mapping alliances, community dialogue, target Multilateral spaces and protest where necessary.
Mr. Wale gave detailed insights on “Advocacy”: Advocacy helps us to challenge the way we have done things and thought about Socio-Political, Economic and Environmental issues. Advocacy is about working with people to support them in strengthening their voice. “To be an Activist is to Speak. To be an Advocate is to Listen”…Society can’t move forward without both. Focus on those things that will bring change, not the easy way. Build coalition, timing is key and identify the windows of opportunities and then leverage on it. Communicate: Advocacy is about listening to what people are not saying and what they are saying at the same time.
Oceans, Geo-Engineering and Climate Threats by Neth Dano (Action Group on Erosion, technology and Concentration): Climate Geo-Engineering is simply a set of technologies to intentionally intervene in and after Earth systems on a mega scale. Particularly to manipulate the Climate to counteract some of the effects of Climate change. Proposed Geo-Engineering techniques to intervene in Land, Ocean and Air. Climate change will still continue. Why oppose Science Experiments? Experiments may impact the real world, place, society, environment. Are rarely for “Science”- often hardware development. Geo-Engineering is under UN moratoria. In conclusion, there is no advantage to Geo-Engineering.
Counting the Ecological Costs of the Blue Economy by Nnimmo Bassey: Terms to note are as follows;
Dipti Bhatragar Friends of the Earth International: Why Do We Call T.T Climate Justice.
Climate crisis is inherited unjustly. Challenging the Oil and Gas TNCs is critical. Transnational Corporations New escape hatch-the deception of the Net Zero.
No TO Net Zero, The Big CON! Nature based solutions: Wolf in Sheep clothing. COP 27 is another opportunity to fight back against false solutions. We want the Energy transition to be just, fair and equitable. A just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for Africa. Annual Investment of U.S $130 billion per year needed for this plan. Rich countries need to pay the climate debt. Political statement signed by 50 Organizations in Africa. Food and land solutions for system change. Economic justice solutions for system change. Change in the value system. Ubuntu- I am because, we are Africa.
Q & A: How do we balance Change and Energy need? We are calling for a just transition. Our African leaders, rich countries know about this development, decades ago, yet they have not done anything. So, we need to talk about the Energy Transition urgently and the transition ought to be just, fair and equitable. We need to build solidarity among each other to fight this Climate situation. We need to do this urgently, but we need to do it right.
Prof. Patrick Bond: “Unmasking the Blue Economy Concept in South Africa”.
Corruption between mega-ports of Nigeria and South Africa. Collaboration between Activists in Nigeria and South Africa. “We are losing the fight against Climate Change” …. The Status quo.
Anti-Extraction: Protest correlation. Extractivism’s ten shortcomings- do these apply to the Blue Economy? Community genuine free, prior and informed consent denied, amidst state/capital’s divisive bulldozing or co-optation. Local Ecology loss, degradation and pollution of land, air and water. Opposing offshore Oil and Gas drilling. Violating planetary boundaries (many in Oceans). Global Climate Risk Index.
Blue Economy deployed in Climate managerialism’s ‘’False Solutions’’. Price of natural gas volatile Russia, 2022. Blue Economy can help fight poverty and inequality. Multinational Corporate Profiteers. Rich countries must pay their Climate debt and other Climate damage to affected people. Judging UNFCCC progress by Climate justice criteria: 1. Cut greenhouse gases, adopt sufficiently ambitious and binding global greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements so as to keep temperatures below 1.5c, ensure the cuts are fairly distributed, not imposed. 2. Transition gracefully; ensure job-rich just transition from carbon=addicted economies for all affected workers and communities during carbonization …. 3. Redress social injustices; empower oppressed constituencies in racial-justice …. 4. Manage green technology as a global public good; allow dissemination of climate friendly technology and localized production technology. 5. Leave fossil in the ground. 6. Finance planetary and social survival; apply carbon taxation and pricing judiciously. Book by Prof. Patrick Bond: “Politics of Climate Justice”.
Desmond D’sa: “Connecting the Blue Economy”.
People Power: Organizing people. Oil and Gas companies should go parking, we don’t want them in our shorelines, exploring. We must have the rights to say NO to mining, to Oil and Gas and that should be our law. Collectively, we need to walk and talk on “Divestment”. We need ethical investors and end abuse to people’s conscience that are destroying our communities and the planet at large. Repatriation, Restoration and Remediation from the Oil and Gas companies, because of the emission and damages by them that have affected our people and communities. Education is key, we need to train our people and arm them with knowledge. We need to educate our people that whatever that is proposed by the multinationals are not an alternative. Education to the communities to know how to deal with the Multinationals/Big corporations. We don’t need their Oil money, its dirty money, that kills innocent people, we need better alternatives. Leave no one behind; there is a lot of commonalities among us, we should drop our differences and work together. To fight big corporation; let the communities document facts against the activities of the big corporation. Ensure that the voices of the people on ground is strong. Ensure the constitution are for the people, work together to use it as a tactics to beat big corporation. Have regular meetings with the people. We need to integrate these struggles to our struggles to fight the common enemy.
The Executive Director of HOMEF (Nnimmo Bassey); appreciates all the facilitators, participants for a power packed two-days engaging sessions on “Blue Economy”. Some of the takeaway; “In fighting together, we can fight better and stronger”. False Solutions on Blue Economy. “We are in for many generations of struggle for restoration to happen”. Solidarity; its love on the street, meeting together. When you say “No” to anything, say “No” to alternatives, even if its inconvenient