Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (left) with President, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), Mr. David Cadman (2nd right) and Consul General, Germany Embassy in Nigeria, Mr. Michael Derus (right) during the opening ceremony of the 6th Climate Change summit 2014 with the theme “Exploring business opportunities in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: Lagos State in Focus” at Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos o Tuesday, March 18, 2014.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Tuesday, 18th March, 2014, flagged off the state’s 6th Climate Change Summit saying the only way to save the Planet Earth from the adverse consequences of Climate Change was to reverse the choices made by humanity which have resulted in the change.
Fashola, who spoke at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, venue of the three-day Summit, warned that the reversal of the choices was no longer a matter of the future but must commence immediately if the Planet must be saved from further devastation and exploitation.
He told the gathering of local and international participants including diplomats, local and international experts and resource persons as well as other stakeholders in the Environment that the choices lay firstly in the way humanity had multiplied in number over the years adding that there must be a slow-down.
“We are experiencing Climate Change only as a result of the choices we have made and it resides in us to unmake those choices and those choices lie first in the way that we have multiplied our numbers and, whether we like it or not, we must slow down because our numbers have grown more rapidly in the last 50 years than it has grown in all of the past civilizations”, the Governor said.
Noting that the Planet Earth has a population of seven billion people, the Governor declared, “We have suddenly become seven billion people on the Planet and increasingly heading towards being 10.5 billion people. If we are finding it so hard to look after seven billion people, it seems to me a simple logic to say let us slow down so that we can look after the ones we have.
“You and I have to make those choices now by looking at our resources and asking ourselves how much can our resources support. Even when your resources can support what you have you can stop and ask yourself should I leave some so that my neighbour can share if he too can make the choices”.
He expressed delight that young people are being imbued with the knowledge of Climate Change in order not to make such wrong choices that generations before them made adding that, “The sooner they begin to realize that they should not make the choices that we made and we begin to unmake some of the choices that we made, then the quicker that it will take to reverse the present situation.
“You are not going to have government making laws and saying do not have more babies, you have to make those choices yourselves”.
Governor Fashola added that the smaller the family size the better the chances of raising the children in a more healthy and secure environment.
Advancing reasons why nations find it difficult to enforce agreement on strategies to mitigate Climate Change, the Governor said it was because heads of national governments are far removed from the devastating impact and consequences of adverse nature change adding that the best they could do at such times was to visit the place or send relief.
“It is the head of sub-national government, the city mayor, the local government chairman that are left behind to deal with the realities and consequences of the adverse changes of nature”, he said adding that the campaign against Climate Change must be driven at the sub-national level.
On what the State is doing as its contribution to the on-going campaign, Governor Fashola, who expressed gratitude to the various experts and professionals who have participated in previous Summits, for putting their “very prolific skills and their knowledge at our disposal”, declared, “the commitment with which we have addressed the issues of Climate Change as a threat to our environment has helped us, as it were, to stay abreast and safe against the hazards of nature.
“From the very first Summit when we accepted the inconvenient truth and dimensioned the enormity of the problem at the time when others thought we were lavishing, to subsequent Summits where we resolved to mitigate and adapt, we have run with our solutions and they have worked”.
Such solutions, Governor Fashola said, include “the Eko Atlantic Project and the Great Wall of Lagos spanning seven kilometres which constitute a mitigation and adaptation strategy that has helped to protect Victoria Island, return businesses to its water front and create jobs for thousands of our people”.
Others, according to him, are “the Lagos Independent Power Project, the Akute Independent Power Project and the Alausa Independent Power Project which have helped to provide steady clean gas fired energy’ adding that they are mitigation strategies that have resulted in the decommissioning of hundreds of diesel fired generators and reduced carbon emissions.
“In Alausa alone where our offices are located, we have identified 141 generators of various capacities for decommissioning and when we switched on that plant we identified 21 inefficiently fired generators increasing carbon emissions levels that we are decommissioning and taking out in order to create a cleaner environment.
“Our shoreline protection of 12 points out of which six are almost completed are helping to slowdown erosion and protect homes in Goshen Beach Estate and ultimately restore and protect the land lost to the sea at the Alpha Beach,” he said.
Noting that the Energy Conservation Initiative of the Government has already reached the state’s schools, the Governor said the initiative is now helping to increase awareness and to develop a new generation of energy conscious and conservation exposed citizenry.
Other projects aimed at promoting cleaner environment in the State, the Governor said, include the tyre recycling initiative at Olusosun, the methane gas extraction project also at the same site and the energy bulb retrofitting project at Alausa which, according to him, “is saving taxpayers’ money on energy consumption for business of government.
“The list of the initiatives is long. They also include the massive de-silting of drains and construction of drains to help mitigate the impact of flooding as a result of heavy, unusual and unpredictable rainfall and high water levels. Year on year, we are getting better with our initiatives”.
Making reference to the theme of this year’s Summit which is “Exploring Business Opportunities in Climate Change Mitigation And Adaptation: Lagos State In Focus”, Governor Fashola said all the initiatives earlier enumerated are geared towards adaptation and mitigation pointing out that several thousands of jobs have already been created from the projects.
“The Eko Atlantic City project employs 2,000 people, the Alausa, Akute and Lagos Power Projects employ 259 people collectively; our tree planting and landscaping initiatives have employed 56, 019. Sources of alternative energy such as solar panels being manufactured and installed are creating new knowledge, new skill and new jobs”, he said.
The Governor disclosed that Government was also looking at better designs for energy conservation in the new houses in the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme through piping LPG gas as a preferred cooking fuel into the homes adding that government was also looking at how to get professionals to assist in identifying owners of ocean-going vessels that are being abandoned on the State’s shorelines for the purpose of pursuing claims against such owners for ecological damage.
Thanking the participants and resource persons for the commitment to the ideals of Climate Change mitigation and adaptation, Governor Fashola declared, “We are determined to turn the adversity of nature to a source of prosperity for our people. I believe that if there is money there, if we see money in it, it will be easier to reverse some of the choices that we made and make new choices”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the state Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said the theme of this year’s Summit was “aimed at having, as usual, a robust exploration geared towards coming up with empirical solutions to the economic and business aspect of Climate Change”.
In the lead paper titled, “Exploring Innovative Opportunities and Smart Solutions in Climate Change”, President of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), Mr. David Cadman, said there is a need for everyone to pick up the challenge of building a sustainable green resilient city.
He stressed the need to work with the universities in specific areas to mark each region and figure out what specific things should be done where they are, adding that since 1992 not much progress have been made globally except at the local and sub-national levels.
Cadman explained that in 2009 when the world met in Copenhagen, there was a focus that all the states would sign on with a prescription that every country must keep its emission below two degrees Centigrade which many felt was too much.
“The challenge now, as focus is shifted to Paris Summit in 2015, is for the stakeholders to come up with a global agreement because as the world is losing time, the Green House gas is accumulating while the world is spending all the time trying to get all the solutions”, he said
He also advocated a change in mobility pattern from cars to walking, cycling and public transit mobility, adding that the single occupant vehicles cannot simply survive in the 21st Century because of the level of emission and the fact that conscripted space would not allow vehicles as they would make the places more congested.
“Now is the time for all of us to engage the Climate Change challenge and win. We cannot afford to lose and the time is very short and what we can do at the sub-national level is to show the way as it is not impossible to achieve”, he said.
In his goodwill message, the Deputy British High Commissioner, Mr. Peter Carter, said the United Kingdom is strongly committed to taking action on reducing the Green House gas emissions adding that the British Government was also working to ensure that new ideas were brought about.
According to Carter, who noted that the United Kingdom and Nigeria have forged very close relationships on Climate Change, British experts are ready to work with Nigerian partners to help access the requisite training needed. He described Nigeria as an excellent example of a nation that is committed to teaching about the effects of Climate Change.
In his own goodwill message, the Consul General of the German Consulate in Lagos, Mr. Michael Derus commended the vision of the Lagos State Government in yearly convening the Climate Change Summit to draw attention to the environment giving a commitment that the Federal Republic of Germany would make use of its Chairmanship of the G8 Group to ensure that the desired global attention is paid to addressing the issue of Climate Change.
Ms Yemisi Ransome Kuti who spoke on behalf of the Policy Advocacy Project Partnership on Climate Change said the theme of this year’s Summit was very timely especially as it provides the vision and important pieces of the multilateral machinery geared towards the achievement of a sustainable future.
Prominent among those at the well attended opening ceremony of the Summit are the state Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire; members of the State Executive Council including the Secretary to the State Government, Dr (Mrs) Oluranti Adebule, state Commissioners for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Prince Segun Oniru; Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Sola Oworu; and Establishment, Training and Pensions, Mrs. Florence Oguntuase among others.