Global warming: Gas flaring, poor waste management in Nigeria alarming – Experts

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As Nigeria continues to grapple with the impact of global warming and climate change, environmental experts have advised the government and other stakeholders to make deliberate efforts to abate methane emission and other greenhouse gases for a cleaner environment and safer existence.

They noted that human activities (Anthropogenic Sources) contribute about 60% of methane emission, stressing that collective efforts to abate it would be critical to achieving the 1.5°C warming pathway, avoiding the worst effects of climate change and achieving Nigeria’s target of reducing methane emissions by 45% by 2025 and 60-75% by 2030.

The experts stated this in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, during a roundtable discussion on “Methane Abatement in Nigeria: A Special Focus on Anthropogenic Sources of Methane Emission,” which was jointly organized by the Environmental Centre for Oil Spill and Gas flaring (ECOSGF); African Initiative for Transparency Accountability and Responsible Leadership, (AfriTAL); Peace Point Development Foundation (PPDF) and sponsored by TrustAfrica.

Dr. Soberekon Afiesimama of ECOSGF in his paper explained that since the Industrial revolution in Nigeria, methane had contributed over 30% of global temperature rise and was second most abundant Greenhouse Gas (GHG) after Carbon dioxide (CO2) with over 80 times the heat-trapping potential of CO2.

According to him, “Anthropogenic methane emissions are mainly from three sectors: fossil fuels, ~35 %; agriculture, ~42 %; and waste, ~20 %.

“Total methane emission from human activities is between 350 – 390 million tonnes annually. Natural methane emissions come primarily from vegetated wetland, freshwater systems, natural geological sources, the Arctic, etc. Vegetated wetlands contributed about 83% of natural sources.

“Sources of methane emissions in Nigeria followed the global pattern with the oil and gas sector contributing.

“Fossil Fuels account for 35% of anthropogenic methane emissions. Oil and Gas: 23% (78 Mt/year), Coal: 12% (41 Mt/year).”

The guest speaker and international environmental rights expert, Christopher Inyang, said global warming was the cause of the international environmental crisis which was affecting plants, animals and human lives.

Inyang wondered how Nigeria would be able to achieve its target of reducing methane emission by 45% in 2025 when gas flaring in the Niger Delta such as in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom and Onne in Rivers States had continued unabated, as well as waste mismanagement, coal mining, agricultural activities, as well as other human induced activities.

He regretted that Nigeria had been unable to develop technology that was good enough to reintegrate the associated gas for useful purposes.

Inyang advocated for a green environment and tree planting as a potent way of mitigating global warming, saying that while humans breathe out carbon dioxide, plants take it and give out oxygen for human consumption.

“Global warming is what causes an international environmental crisis that can affect plants, animals, and human lives.

“It has been agreed that carbon dioxide has been the greatest problem of human lives and there have been solutions reeled out to see how to manage it, including planting of green trees.

‘Why humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, plants give out oxygen and take in carbon dioxide and this synergy will bring about beautiful life.

“How can we situate our discussion on management of energy and abating methane emission when there is a serious gas flaring in Ibeno, Onne, even as you are standing at the soil of Ibeno you will feel earth tremor as there’s going to be an earthquake.

“Also, the waste disposal site in Uyo village road and other centers provide us with an example of mismanagement of waste which can lead to methane emission,” he said.

Speaking on how to reduce methane emission, Dr Afiesimama said it required a combination of technological solutions and behavioural change by the oil and gas sector.

He said, “70% of emissions can be abated using natural gas for power production, vehicle fuel (CNG), LPG. Elimination of the flaring of associated gases, adoption and implementation of regulatory standards in the downstream, midstream and upstream sectors are also key”

Afiesimama noted that the Agricultural/Waste Management sector could deploy biodigester technology as a way of abating methane emission.

He further noted that methane could be captured and used as a source of energy.

The expert advised against food waste, open burning of waste and called for the adoption of alternate wetting and drying of rice cultivation.

He highlighted the benefits of reducing methane emission to include: increase in life expectancy, better crop yield, improvement in the lives of livestocks and the general wellbeing.

In her keynote address, Ogo Chukwudi of TrustAfrica tasked the government and the relevant stakeholders to prioritize methane abatement in the three thematic areas of waste management, agricultural practices and fossil fuel emissions.

She observed that significant attention had been given to emissions from fossil fuel extraction and use but emissions from human activities such as agriculture and waste management had not received required attention, stressing that paying attention to the latter was paramount in methane abatement and climate change mitigation in Nigeria.

Umo Isua-Ikoh of the Peace Point Development Foundation pushed for activities that would mitigate climate change and return the environment to the standard nature put it.

On his part, Dr. Louis Ogbeifun, while presenting the Policy Brief on ”Methane Abatement in Nigeria: A Special Focus on Methane Emissions from Anthropogenic Sources” called on relevant government agencies to implement and enforce methane reduction policies and CSOs to drive advocacy and community outreach and the private sector to innovate and develop technologies for methane abatement and efficient waste management.

Professor Essien Udosen of the Ritman University, while condemning the rate of waste mismanagement and gas flaring which exacerbate climate change said: “waste accumulation is the worst; when rain falls, it will decompose these things and you know what it means.

“Methane will be released to the air. Methane is dangerous and it contributes higher than carbon dioxide in global warming.

“The good thing is that you can capture it and convert it to biogas for cooking or automotive purposes; even the lipids that come out could be used for fertilizing plants.”

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