Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged youths in the Niger Delta region to resist energy colonialism by embracing renewable energy technologies.
It said youths can, conscious efforts and actions, provide solutions and partner with government, institutions and nongovernmental organizations to produce energy saving cook-stoves to reduce deforestation and fuel wood consumption.
ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Uyi Ojo, who spoke at the weekend in Port Harcourt, during the 2019 youth environmental camp meeting organised by the organization, challenged youths to see environmental protection as their responsibility.
The maiden edition of the environmental camp meeting was attended by about 120 youths drawn from all the states in the Niger Delta region.
Ojo said: “Young people should have a problem solving mentality to poverty and climate change as opportunities to generate ideas, conduct advocacy, creation of jobs, renewable energy solutions in mini-grids and off-grid systems for rural electrification, solid waste management that emphasises reuse, reduce and recycle waste in all our productive and consumptive activities.”
The Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, noted that some of the activities designed to empower the youths included; training in the fabrication of clean energy saving cook-stoves, training for solar gadgets installation and repairs and solar drier tent project for processing tomatoes, pepper, fish and vegetables as alternative income generation in Bodo City, Rivers State.
He explained the importance of the training programme which was the maiden edition saying that youths usually mostly impacted and carry the burden in the communities that are in the frontline of extractive activities and climate change impacts.
Ojo said: “The youths suffer loss of livelihoods, disorientation, fear of a bleak future and the desolation wrought by extractive activities. The youths are also the target of the capitalist globalization concept of the impossibility of a world without dirty energy.
“This is the narrative of the Federal Government’s return to Ogoniland to extract oil is built upon. That Nigeria cannot survive without oil. This is equally the narrative that Nigeria’s footdragging to leapfrog to just energy built on energy democracy and community ownership through the production and supply as end user.”
In his lecture, a lecturer in the University of Port Harcourt, Associate Professor Fidelis Allen, stated that the switch to renewable energy cannot be automatic but by an incremental approach.
Allen, who lecture was titled: “Climate Change and the Need for Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy”, said the rural area can be the cornerstone of the energy revolution in this country.
He called for equity and ambition within and around the renewable energy discussion adding that these could come by way of finance, support sustained interest and drive.
The University lecturer, who lauded ERA/FoEN for organizing the camp meeting, however expressed regrets that the government has not done enough to encourage encourage and interest and investment in local manufacturing of renewable energy gadgets.