In the near recents of 2011, the members of the United Nations held a conference of all parties in order to address the issues surrounding a perceived global climate change. Although, no major decision was set in stone in that meeting, it was agreed that the members would reconvene in another 4 years to reach sustainable agreements. Being a nascent in the energy sector and just one year off an internship with the fossil-based energy industry, I was totally oblivious of how mankind was about to face one of its most challenging environmental adaptation times.
Problem Definition: Cause and Effect
The summit was conceptualized and borne out of environmental science reports that suggested that the carbon emissions to the earth’s atmosphere since the industrialization era were significantly higher and having negative impacts on the environment. These findings sparked off anxiety and debate in the energy business and in essence suggested a crucial divestment into cleaner and efficient methods of harnessing energy globally. One major challenge encountered with the suggested adaptation is that the same oil markets purportedly harming the global climate mainly drive global economies in the international finance markets. Although, there are claims that the biggest oil exploration and production company, Exxon Mobil, already caught wind on similar scientific reports in the 70s yet ignored, the rapid increases in occurences of natural disasters around the world could not be ignored in the new millenium. Ranging from earthquakes in Asia, to droughts in tropical regions, to hurricanes and floods in US, to wildfires in the oil sands regions, to rapid melting of icecaps in artic regions and down to a myriad of socio-enviro-political problems in Nigeria, the largest oil reserves nation in Africa. Indeed, these symptoms exhibited by a disturbed mother nature have now become apparent enough for global leaders to start taking and showing high levels of responsibility.
Supposedly having the largest carbon footprints, the US and China have made the biggest commitments at the scheduled reconvening in Paris, late 2015, to ‘decarbonizing the global environment’. US is also the biggest net consumer of global crude oil sale and this makes them a very consequential role player in the world’s oil market. Acknowledging this position, the US, under the leadership of President Obama, developed and reformed new energy policies that will promote the use of cleaner energy practices, including the use of green and renewable energy options, thereby limiting the growth of traditional petroleum and coal technologies. Both countries have also made commitments to helping developing nations adapt to these changes. Since there is always a resistance to change, many instances of ‘conflicts of interests’ are manifesting in several economies as these adaptation methods are being adopted. One global trend is the “free-fall” in the price of crude oil on the international benchmark, over the last 5 years. While OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) have managed to sustain prices around the $50/barrel mark in the last 12 months, it’s only a matter of time before the wedge gives way to the rapidly growing expansion of alternative energy options. As such, oil-producing economies that did not diversify with alternatives, have received negative impacts caused by this market disturbance.
The Nigerian Perspective
For a few decades now, Nigeria has been known as one of the world’s top oil producers and is in fact the largest in Africa with 2014 accounts of well over 2 million barrels per day. Nigeria has a diverse-culture population with a dominant revenue dependency on oil production. With the imminent global market shift to alternatives, revenue projection has seen a major shortfall that has led to a number of economic reports typical of a recession. A series of political blame games have ensued between leaders and their oppositions and reports of corruption allegations have created additional distraction to the ongoing economic disturbance.
Despite these challenges, the current administration has kept up with an optimistic and confident outlook on the economic situation. New infrastructural investment frameworks and policies have been developed in order to attract foreign investment. However, these policies are ‘poorly seen’ as they don’t catch the attention of competent foreign infrastructural developers. One reason could be that the rest of the world is finding emerging technologies more attractive and would rather exploit familiar markets with clear policy frameworks for modern technologies than explore a known-to-be-risky but plausibly viable venture in Nigeria. Another reason could be that one of the global leaders in technology, the US, is having their most highly anticipative presidential election outcomes coming up in a few hours and seeing as the two candidates have very contradictory perspectives about the plausibility of climate change, investors remain speculative about the markets to put their money in. Yet, another reason, which is my best bet, could just be poor knowledge regarding what exactly their needs are in other to receive the right investment.
In every sense, the Nigerian economic fate is greatly dependent on foreign support, but the emanating origin of the helping hand also matters. Every economy has its motives for helping. I have personal perspectives about this notion in the following regard:
– As the world’s most influential leader, the US (under the rule of Democrats) feels obligated to help, whenever treaties like the United Nations urges them to take responsibility of making the world a better place. While many US-Africa initiatives start off with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, the granted help often turns out to be politicized. In essence, the House of cards always wins.
– European countries are always in the business of helping but their motives vary very widely. Most of the time, they are concerned about their financial benefits in the long run, which no one can/should fault any business motive on (until it eventually turns out to look like a neo-colonial scheme all along)
– Canada always volunteers to help and are usually concerned about the socio-economic benefits of world peace and keeping it clean as much as possible. Canada is also the most educated economy (according to most global stats) and are capable of providing well-informed help
– China has an overpopulation challenge and understands that they are in fact helping themselves by helping others… A lot of times though, the quality of help they can afford to give other developing countries (like Nigeria) turns out questionable.
These are some of the main global helping hands today and given these objective points (of mine, and probably/hopefully-not, mine alone), Nigeria needs to exercise caution in selecting the hands that reach out to help them out of this recession.
A Renewable Solution
Addressing the main adaptation challenges Nigeria is facing in this era of increased global warming, it is quite clear that the economic recession is in fact an energy management crisis. Fossil fuel is the most globally known and consumed form of energy today but it is inefficient for the global ecosystem and hurting the planet in diverse ways. Energy is always energy after all (according to Newton’s first law of thermodynamics); it’s neither created, nor destroyed. While there is a labour market shakedown in oil sectors of fossil-intensive economies, there is also an uprising of new opportunities in the renewable energy field, which deals with other forms of energy. It is therefore safe to say that professionals in the fossil-tech industry can still use their experience to take advantage of these new opportunities rather than resist climate change in vain. This outlook will also serve to create new jobs and a sustainable future for upcoming generations. One interesting advantage Nigeria and other largely populous nations have is that energy is a people-commodity and given this impending shift to alternatives, the opportunities are bountiful, given the right mindset.