Vice-President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo came to Queen’s this week to deliver a lecture.
On Wednesday, Osinbajo presented in Goodes Hall in front of a packed crowd of students, faculty, and members of the Kingston community. Introduced by Adeyinka Asekun, the high commissioner of Nigeria to Canada, spoke about climate justice in Africa and received a standing ovation.
“Climate change is the most global and existential threat today,” Osinbajo said in the lecture. “The race to net zero [carbon emissions] must not leave Africa in the dark.”
Osinbajo said fossil fuels have been identified as the worst pollutant and countries have been advised to reduce the use of carbon admitters. However, for Africa, he said the solution is not that simple—there are two sides to the climate crisis.
“Lack of access to energy is at the center [of the] problem of poverty.”
He said to ensure an equitable transition to climate justice, along with discussions surrounding greenhouse gas, we must recognize that climate change is a social justice issue.
Osinbajo said we must approach the question of climate with nuance. He said the climate crisis will disproportionately affect African countries like Nigeria; despite Africa’s low contribution to overall carbon emissions, their poorer and more vulnerable population will be the first to suffer.
He said the effects will be detrimental; as agricultural productivity will decrease, agricultural jobs will be lost, and people will be displaced
from their homes.
Africa does not have easy access to electricity compared to other continents, and women and children, schools, and food quality suffer as a result. African countries need electrification to improve the quality of living, he said.
“Acknowledging differences between groups and how they experience climate change [is important].”
“[For] gas rich and energy poor countries, fossil fuels must be used in the short term to address energy access […] limiting the development of gas products [to be used in Africa] violates the enshrined principles of equality and justice.”
He said, for climate action in Africa, North American leaders must look beyond their “archetypal solutions” and consider African-centric climate issues in the fight against global climate change.
Nigeria plans to have net zero admissions by 2060, and a solar program, which will electrify 25 million people using solar power, is in the works, he said.
The Nigerian government has also launched an integration energy planning tool, which will make integrating new energy related technologies easier and improve access to clean cooking in the nation, Osinbajo said.
He highlighted the efforts of the 1 Million Teachers Program, whose CEO, Hakeem Subair, briefly spoke before the vice president. According to their website, the program is committed to producing more high-quality teachers to ensure that children around the world get a good education.
When asked to give advice to climate activists, Osinbajo said, “The more that you do, the better [it is] for the world.”
Africa, Climate change, Equity, Lecture, Yemi Osinbajo
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