According to the Norwegian psychologist and economist, Per Espen Stoknes, one way to get people concerned about climate change is to spread the message that shows humans can collaborate with nature as partners and not as dominators. Over the years, the necessary symbiotic relationship between humans and the environment has been battered due to the reckless attitude of man towards nature.
Since the beginning of the industrial era, human activities have continued to leave dangerous effects on the planet primarily through fossil fuels cum the release of excess greenhouse gases. Annual dangerous effects of human activities occur mostly from industrial processes, power stations, transportation fuels, waste disposal and treatment, agricultural byproducts, fossil fuel retrieval, processing and distribution, land use and biomass burning. Yet, against the backdrop of the visibly deadly effects of climate change in form of extreme weather conditions and health damaging threats and in spite of global international agreements; especially the Paris climate agreement, the continued activities of many nations reflect that the need to practice mitigation and adaption is not yet fully appreciated.
For Nigeria, major economic activities centre on oil and gas and agriculture. Oil and gas exposes the nation to effects of gas flaring, oil spills, leaks and other climate threatening activities whilst agriculture leaves behind deforestation, land use and production activities, which cause anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, methane, and nitrous oxide. According to the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), about 60% of energy-related emissions are as a result of oil and gas industry activities.
Furthermore, the use of fairly-used or old vehicles which emit huge volumes of carbon into the atmosphere make automobiles a major source of air pollution in the country. Besides, shortage of energy force the people to use alternative high carbon emitting energy sources of diesel and fuel generators. In rural communities, major contributors to climate change include uncoordinated disposal of refuse, tree felling, bush burning, and fuel production from wood and charcoal; which are all threats to the climate.
United Nations’ SDG13 enjoins a global action in combatting climate change and its impacts. Climate change is no respecter of persons, race, or continent. Not until all persons identify and embrace the love for the environment, this climate goal, as well as the aims of the COP21 Paris climate agreement (strengthening both global response to the threat of climate change and the ability of countries to deal with its impacts) may never be achieved.
Progressively, the Nigerian government joined other nations in signing the Paris climate agreement, which formally committed the country to a sustainable fight against climate change. Although governments are expected to play the lead in the combat of climate change across the world through ratifications and policy modifications that favour a cleaner environment, the most effective means to get through with the battle against climate change is through engagement with the people. Nigerians need to be equipped with the need to appreciate nature, as well as educated on mitigation and adaptation practices.
In order to further raise awareness on climate change and its threats and in accordance with the theme of this year’s World Environment Day “Connecting people to nature”, we have compiled some of the opinions shared by experts and concerned world citizens on raising awareness and connecting people with the environment:
“The environment is being held in trust of our unborn generations and thus, must be kept in faultless condition.’’- Sen Oluremi Tinubu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment
“We must never forget that the natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone.”-His Holiness, Pope Francis
“Unfortunately we have reached a point where our landfill sites are running out of airspace, and for this reason, responsible waste management is crucial.”- Herman Mashaba, Executive Mayor of the City of Johanesburg.
“Developing countries, least developed countries and small island states in particular, are vulnerable and not developed enough to deal with problems caused by climate change, and thus in need of assistance and aid by the international community.” Hua Chunying, Deputy Director, Chinese Foreign Information Ministry
“We need to reinforce air quality, sustainability of soil, management of forest and farm land and water bodies. We must make transformation change to happen as the poor depends on these natural resources.”- Ewah Eleri, Executive Director, International Center for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED)
“If we interact with nature in a progressive manner and on the proper understanding, respond to environment interaction, we will be able to sustain it.”- Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo, Geography Department, University of Lagos
“We are also clear that we should not let the global consensus unravel any further. We need to find an effective solution that ensures the participation of all countries in managing the dangers of climate change to each and every one of us.”- Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General
“There is no future where you think you can keep your jobs and not care about the environment,” she said. She added that “all countries of the world, rich and poor alike, have work to do at their own national level.” In some ways, she said, “we are all developing countries.”- Erna Solberg, Prime Minister, Norway
As the world progresses in the fight against climate change, the message of climate change must be passed in a way that will resonate with the public; connecting and engaging everyone in this planet-rescue mission. (or mission to rescue our planet).