Transitioning to Greener Lifestyle Through Policies, Choices

Published on: 13 June 2022
by KnowESG

Every year, World Environment Day (WED) is observed on June 5. This day is celebrated to encourage awareness and environmental protection. According to the United Nations, “The celebration of this day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises, and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment.”

In 1972, the United Nations General Assembly announced the celebration of World Environment Day on the first day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Two years later, in 1974, the first WED was held with the theme “Only One Earth”.

About 48 years after, the same theme was chosen, dedicated to the value of the Earth. There is “Only one Earth.” It will focus on the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature, and our possibilities for shifting to a greener lifestyle through both policies and individual choices.

“This planet is our only home,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for World Environment Day, warning that the Earth’s natural systems “cannot keep up with our demands.”

“It is vital we safeguard the health of its atmosphere, the richness and diversity of life on Earth, its ecosystems and its finite resources. But we are failing to do so,” said the UN chief.

“We are asking too much of our planet to maintain ways of life that are unsustainable,” he cautioned, noting that this not only hurts the Earth but also its inhabitants.

Since 1974, the day has been used to raise awareness and generate political momentum around growing environmental concerns, such as toxic chemical pollution, desertification and global warming. It has since grown into a global action platform, helping to drive change in consumption habits, as well as in national and international environmental policy.

By providing food, clean water, medicines, climate regulation and protection from extreme weather events, Mr Guterres reminded us that a healthy environment is essential for people and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is essential that we wisely manage nature and ensure equitable access to its services, especially for the most vulnerable people and communities,” Mr Guterres underscored.

More than three billion people are affected by degraded ecosystems. Pollution causes some nine million premature deaths each year, and more than one million plant and animal species risk extinction – many within decades, according to the UN chief.

“Close to half of humanity is already in the climate danger zone – 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts such as extreme heat, floods and drought,” he said, adding that there is a 50:50 chance that global temperatures will breach the Paris Agreement limit of 1.5℃ in the next five years.

The energy transition is imminent. Countries are slowly making the switch to renewable energy that has no carbon footprint and is healthy for the environment.

Increased utilisation of Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) reduces the use of firewood. More trees are chopped down, opening us to the dangers of desertification. Gas is clean energy and supports the aspiration to protect mother earth.

Clean energy is essential for today’s society, driving economic growth and improving the quality of life for people around the world. But today, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, there are still close to 770 million Africans without access to electricity, four billion, who cook using solid fuels such as charcoal, and hundreds of millions for whom access to electricity is either unreliable due to lack of generating capacity and infrastructure, or an unaffordable luxury.

Today’s primary focus is on the future of clean energy transition and how it impacts industrial development and required deep dive into the role of LPG gas as an affordable transition energy driver for industrial growth.

According to the 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy conducted by BP, about 60 per cent of global energy is still produced from coal or fuel oils, with high CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, along with other pollutants harmful to the environment and human health, such as sulphur oxides and soot.

Utilising renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, will alleviate these issues, but it will take time to deploy these technologies at the scale required to replace fossil fuels, while some countries and regions may not have the necessary renewable resources to move to a 100 per cent renewable scenario in the medium term.

Switching to lower-carbon fossil fuels such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and LPG will play a significant role during the energy transition in providing low carbon, secure energy, especially in developing nations and regions with little existing energy infrastructure.

The compelling economic, social and environmental arguments behind increasing LPG’s uptake as part of the global energy transition are transport, heating homes and other sources.

While natural gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuels, its availability depends on being close to the supporting infrastructure, such as pipelines and LNG terminals. In many regions, there is no existing natural gas infrastructure, and distance or volume demand makes it uneconomic to expand an existing facility to serve every potential customer.

Traditionally these ‘off-gas grid’ customers have been served by small, decentralised base load power plants operating on fuel oils, such as diesel or Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), as these fuels can be readily transported by truck or train. However, fuel oils are ‘high carbon fuels, releasing significant CO2 when combusted, as well as large amounts of the other pollutants mentioned earlier.

A study conducted by the World LPG Association in 2019 on the role of LPG in support of Energy Transition reveals that LPG is a much cleaner burning fuel that can reduce CO2 emissions by 20 per cent compared to Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), as well as reducing other pollutants by 90 per cent or more. The ability to use LPG in high-efficiency power plants not only reduces the CO2 footprint of power generation but also makes electricity more affordable.

The volumes of LPG consumed for power generation, even for a small power plant as used by say a mining company or cement factory, can also improve the affordability of LPG for other uses, such as cooking, and help a local domestic fuel market to develop, reducing air pollution and deforestation.

According to the 2020 Carbon Brief report, Nigeria has the largest economy and population of any country in Africa. It is expected to overtake China to become the world’s second-most populous country after India by the end of the century. It was the world’s 17th biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2015, the second-highest in Africa after South Africa.

Nigeria has one of the highest rates of energy poverty in the world and suffers from chronic power cuts. In its recent COVID-19 economic recovery plan, the government pledged to fix its worsening energy crisis through the rapid expansion of solar power.

Nigeria is part of three negotiating blocs at international climate talks. These include the G77 and China, the African group and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

The yearly greenhouse gas emissions were 481 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2e) in 2016, according to the CAIT Climate Watch.

Nigeria is signed up to the Paris Agreement, the international deal aimed at tackling climate change. It ratified the agreement in 2017. Through this, it has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2030, when compared to “business-as-usual” levels. In other words, if Nigeria were to follow a “business as usual” pathway, it would expect its emissions to reach around 442.5m tonnes of CO2e a year by 2030.

In its climate pledge – also known as Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – submitted in 2017, the Federal Government said it would reduce its emissions by ramping up the rollout of solar energy production, improving energy efficiency and ending gas flaring.

The government has not yet made much progress in developing solar power. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel production and use have increased by 16 per cent since 2015, according to data from IEA.

More than one in three people in Nigeria lack access to electricity. Instead, many rely on the burning of wood, biogas – a gas produced from animal and plant waste and other types of waste to generate energy in some homes.

In Nigeria, about 15 per cent of people have access to clean cooking and the rest – mostly women – rely on polluting and inefficient cookstoves. Reliance on wood for fuel is a major driver of deforestation in Nigeria – and improving access to clean cooking has been flagged as a key option for reducing emissions in the country.

In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari committed to mobilising Nigerian youths toward planting 25 million trees to enhance Nigeria’s carbon sink at a UN climate summit in New York.

The Federal Government has also committed to restoring four million hectares of forest under the Bonn Challenge, a global tropical forest restoration project spearheaded by the government of Germany and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In its climate pledge, Nigeria says it will reduce its overall emissions through climate-smart agriculture – which it says would simultaneously slash emissions while meeting the challenges posed to farming by climate change. Proposed climate-smart policies include encouraging the planting of more native vegetation and putting a stop to slash and burn agriculture.

Nigeria describes itself as a country that is considerably impacted by climate change. Temperatures in Nigeria have risen by around 1.6C since the start of the industrial era – higher than the global average. Depending on the rate of future climate change, temperatures could rise by a further 1.5-5C by the end of the century.

Advances in extreme heat particularly threaten the many millions without access to electricity or air conditioning in Nigeria. In urban areas, just 92 in every 1,000 people have access to air-con. In rural areas, it is just 14 in every 1,000 according to the 2020 Carbon Brief Report.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is used as fuel for Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV) like forklifts, cars and buses. It is especially attractive to organisations that operate large fleets of vehicles, enabling them to enjoy considerable economies of scale. The Dangote trucks are examples of vehicles being retrofitted to use CNG as fuel. This will also significantly reduce the carbon footprint since gas is much cleaner than Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or Automotive Gas Oil (AGO).

Currently, Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) is helping to build a better Nigeria by catalysing the transition of domestic cooking fuel from the usual biomass and wood to LPG. Nigeria LNG remains a major influencer in the sector. A senior official of the company said: “We have dedicated 350,000 metric tonnes of LPG to the market helping to raise the total consumption from the initial 70,000 tonnes in 2007 before NLNG got involved.

“We are fully committed to delivering cleaner energy and to protecting our citizens and the environment from the hazards of smoke inhalation while cooking with firewood and other sources of fuel, which on the record accounts for over 100,000 deaths in Nigeria, mainly women and children just trying to put food on the table. We are set to reverse this trend and change the narrative with LPG, in addition to helping Nigeria preserve Forex from Kerosene importation and reducing deforestation.

“Also, our domestic LNG (DLNG) initiative is a deliberate effort to enhance access to a healthy, safe, and cleaner energy source, which is a dire need in Nigeria today. Consistent with NLNG’s vision of helping to build a better Nigeria, the initiative will support the economic development of the country and industrialization. NLNG is well-positioned to support domestic gas demand and market growth through Volume Optimisation.

“The strategy is to deepen NLNG’s footprint and enhancement of NLNG’s relevance in the domestic market, as well as to ensure local gas utilisation in line with our country’s national gas aspirations. The potential for domestic LNG exists with credible off-takers and we are already exploring the possibility of LNG to power with gas-based users across the country.”

Source: The Guardian

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