Clarion Call

By now we have probably all heard about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published on the 6th of October this year. Its authors, scientists representing over 15 nations, present their findings pertaining to the likely consequences of global climate change should temperatures reach 2.0 or even just 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Through rigorous testing and analysis, the data largely confirm much of what we already knew: namely, that without drastic action, things really aren’t looking too good for us.

While many already recognize and accept that we possess a collective responsibility to do our share in taking steps to avoid these outcomes, certain sources claim that even our best efforts may not be enough. For example, the Climate Action Tracker anticipates that there is a whopping 97% chance that we will exceed the 2°C threshold. It goes without saying that this is cause for concern. The more drastic the climate change, the more extreme the weather conditions, regardless of location. While Nigeria is on the lower end in terms of CO2 emissions (measured in metric tonnes per capita), ranking in at 0.55 as of 2014 (China’s, for example, was 7.54; while the USA’s was 16.49), ever-increasing population and industrialization means we ought to keep a close eye on ensuring that these numbers don’t increase alongside regional development.

Furthermore, history tells us that large-scale changes necessarily involve the direct involvement of the masses. In the realm of environmental awareness, this means creating a significant enough social momentum in favor of sustainable practices and policies that policymakers have no reasonable choice but to enact legislation accordingly. After all, we know that a mere 100 companies have been responsible for 71 percent of industrial emissions since 1988—this is staggering. While this suggests that large businesses have a special responsibility to consider environmental safety in their dealings, such incentives are only strengthened by consumer demand. Given Nigeria’s notorious dependence on fossil fuels, we believe there’s no time like the present to make the switch to solar energy to help usher in a healthier, more efficient attitude toward the environment—and help keep our emissions low as our numbers increase.

In the meantime, be sure to check out Carbon Brief’s interactive tracker to get a detailed look at how various regions of the African continent (in addition to the rest of the world) may be affected by rising temperatures.

Can the Grid Ever Go Green?

Anyone who’s lived in the region for a good amount of time knows that it’s far from pessimistic to have lost faith in African power utilities. We’re realists here, and we like to call it how it is. And the truth is, the Nigerian electric grid in its present state won’t be experiencing its golden age any time soon. From the glaring unpredictability of power supply to the haphazard funding practices that allow them to continue to operate, it isn’t much of a stretch to suppose that it is a system beyond repair—sorry guys.

According to a 2016 World Bank study shared by Quartz Africa, fewer than 1% of the African utilities surveyed in the study were capable of generating enough cash to cover both operating costs and maintenance/expansion fees. While some large companies are able to switch to alternative sources of energy, this hasn’t always been an option for smaller businesses and individuals who are just as tired of the failing, unpredictable grid. Of course, the result tends to be that existing utilities lose their big customers and it’s the people who are left to suffer the consequences.

We already know it takes time for decentralized, sustainable practices to pick up speed when cost is an issue for huge swaths of the population. But there is a growing consensus of voices familiar with these industries who agree that the utilities’ present situation isn’t so much of a setback as it is an opportunity. That is, an opportunity for those of us in the dark, whether in urban centers or rural areas, to set our sights on something a little more 21st century. Something a little more…green. Some of the writers over at Quartz even suppose that the grid may make a comeback as a marketplace where users are able to sell the excess power generated from their solar installations to those without power. And that, my friends, is music to our ears. Because we’re here to make it possible.