ENVIRONMETAL JUSTICE CAMPAIGNERS CALL FOR PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY-LED RENEWABLE ENERGY TRANSITION

Environmental campaigners across the globe have called for the need for radical energy transition from fossils to renewable energy alternatives that are in public and community led.

They say fundamental challenge facing just energy transition is global fossil fuel dependency; and an energy shift is required by envisioning post petroleum economy and fight against corporate capture of decision makingfor people both in rich and poor countries.

This was during an International Conference on Just Energy Transition that was held in Abuja Nigeria on 2nd and 3rd November to open up 2018 Biannual General Meeting of Friends of the earth International Federation. The conference that brought together environmental campaigners, opinion leaders, and academia and community leaders across the globe was aimed at drawing attention to sustainable energy solutions.

While opening the conference, Nansen Karin, the Chairperson of Friends of the Earth International said climate, energy, food and biodiversity crisis are all as a result of unsustainable and unfair production and consumption systems as well as privatization and devastation of nature for the benefit national elites and transnational corporations whose major aim is profit maximization.

She added that the crisis is already leading to the displacement of people and the devastation of community livelihoods yet they are least responsible for causing the problem.

“The answer is nothing less than system change, system change implies a radical transformation of our energy, food and economic systems and the way we manage forest and biodiversity,” Karin noted.

She also added that, “it requires building people’s power in fighting against offensive and corporate capture in decision making.”

HERE IT IS: Nansen Karin, the Chairperson of Friends of the Earth International International speaking at the Conference on Just Energy Transition in Abuja Nigeria

Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, the Director Environmental Rights Action- which is hosting the 2018 FoEI BGM noted that just transition means moving from fossil fuel to clean, renewable, decentralized and people –controlled energy; that is built on the principal of justice for people and bridging the social disparity gap.

“Africa should start by clear adoption of a new development model to transit from fossil fuel driven economy to renewable energy alternatives. Therefore, it must start by recognizing that oil dependency needs to end and to orient the economy by envisioning a post petroleum economy. This is because, there is life after oil,” she noted.

Hon. Uche Onyeagucha, from Friends of the Earth Nigeria who was one of the lead speakers said a just transition of renewable energy should give power to people not the business corporates.
“A just transition can’t put renewable energy in the hands of big business. We must democratize the transition process. If this transition gives big business control, we have failed. It must be translated to real people’s power,” he explained.

Kureeba David, the NAPE’s project coordinator for Forestry and Biodiversity who is also the Regional Facilitator for FoEI in Africa said there is need to democratize energy solutions by ensuring citizen participation and support local communities with skills and training in renewable energy solutions.

“As NAPE and Africa we are already adopting community led approach in all dimensions. We are already sensitizing people on agro ecology and food sovereignty as real solutions and training communities especially women with clean energy skills like making charcoal briquettes and energy saving stoves,” Kureeba said.

LISTEN: Kureeba David, the NAPE’s project coordinator for Forestry and Biodiversity making a point at the International Conference on Just Energy Transition in Abuja Nigeria 

Samuel Okulony from African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) who was on the panel to discuss prospects on energy transition in Uganda said though government of Uganda introduced Rural Electricity program to enable access to grid electricity in rural communities, the uptake is very low due to high tariffs and communities have been empowered with information and skills to lobby and advocate for clean energy.

Jennifer Amejjer, the Monitoring and Evaluation officer and Precious Naturinda, representing Young Friends of the Earth Uganda are also representing NAPE in the BGM

STORY COMPILED BY PRECIOUS NATURINDA IN ABUJA NIGERIA