Prof. Eli Bala is the director-general of Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN). In this exclusive chat with NKECHI ISAAC, he highlights the potentials of the Nigeria Energy Calculator 2050 (NECAL 2050) and how it has helped in monitoring green house gas emissions in the country in a determined effort to reduce them as well as the negative impact of climate change. The excerpts.
A lot of people think climate change is an abstract thing coined by the western world to confuse humanity. How real is this and how does it affect Nigeria and the world generally?
Climate change is not an abstract term as you said by the developed/western world. It is a phenomenon that has been proven scientifically and science has no barrier, Nigeria boasts of some of the best scientists in the world. So, climate change has been scientifically proven that it is occurring, that the world is getting warmer which has been proven to be connected to the green house gases (GHG).
The GHG are mainly evolved through energy development, energy production and utilization particularly from the fossil fuels. So, it is not an abstract term by the western world. It affects Nigeria in the sense that when the world gets warmer, climate changes, and you know climate change over a period, around 30 years, the weather, temperature, rainfall pattern changes and that has been affecting us.
As you can see the dryness in the northern part of the country, the Lake Chad is as a result of climate change. The consequences are that people are moving south wards, there is dispute about land, and as people and their various ideologies mix conflicts arise, which is affecting us in the country.
Though we don’t emit significant number of gases because we have the least capacity compared to the western world but we face the consequences, flooding is one of them.
In 2013, Nigeria developed a tool, the Nigeria Energy Calculator 2050 (NECAL 2050) as one of the instruments to combat climate change, can you throw more light on this?
The NECAL 2050 was introduced to us in 2013. It was actually initially developed by the British Department of Energy, then it was UK-DECC. You remember after the Rio Act Summit when it was evident that the world was changing and the major cause was green house gases, countries thereafter pledged to reduce their emissions relative to that of the pre-industrial period, and Britain pledged they want to reduce their emission by about 80 per cent and they needed a scientific way of telling them how to go about it in order to achieve that.
So, they developed this energy planning tool. Now we can’t do without energy but then how do we supply this energy to meet our need as well as ensure the emissions are reduced. So, the energy calculator in simple term is a tool that enables you to plan on how to meet your energy need and then at the same time reduce your emission. We were introduced to the calculator in 2013 and we modified it in 2015.
How useful has this calculator been in determining Nigeria’s NDCs?
The output of the calculator helped us in establishing the NDCs at that time because the report was utilized by a committee. A committee was set up by the government chaired by the then Secretary to the Government, Energy Commission of Nigeria was part of the membership, and the report was utilized to evolve that 20 per cent unconditionally and then 45 per cent reduction conditionally. Conditionally means we will need support from outside the country. So, it was useful and we believe now that if we review it, bring in other parameters we did not include in the first version we will perhaps need to deepen our contribution, that is what the world is looking at that countries should deepen their contribution, instead of 20 we can make it 30 per cent and the benefit will be ours at the end of the day. As long as we meet our aspiration of energy sufficiency to drive our economy.
You said the calculator was reviewed in 2015, and we still have about 29 years before we get to 2050, are there plans to review the tool further?
Of course, we will keep on reviewing it, energy planning is not a static thing. Planning is a dynamic matter. If you look at our law, it says we should produce periodic energy masterplans in consultation with all stakeholders, so these are part of the masterplans and it is to be reviewed periodically. It is not a static document.
Strategic planning is not one- or two-years planning, it is a long-range planning, so that is what we are involved in and as you move ahead along the years you keep on reviewing them based on the circumstances you find yourself.
Are there other stakeholders involved in the NECAL 2050 plan?
The primary stakeholder we have is the Ministry of Environment that is in charge of environmental issues in this country. They are the major driver of climate change in the country. We also have Ministry of Power because power generation emits, Ministry of Petroleum, and ministries of transport, aviation, mines and steel development, Atomic Energy Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defence and all other agencies relevant in the energy development.
The term NECAL calculator sounds elitist, can we bring it down and explain how this can benefit the ordinary man on the street?
You see the beauty of NECAL unlike other tools is that it is interactive. So, the common man can see the parameters clearly. It is a planning instrument that a non-scientist or someone not literate on energy matters can immediately see what the consequences are in his or our choice as a nation with regard to reducing or increasing the emissions. It sounds elitists but in reality, it is a planning tool that brings out the consequences immediately.
Are there other areas the country can explore with this instrument?
You know energy system is a gamut of resources. It is derived from resources and we have various resources like oil, gas, sand, wind, biomass, coastal areas, ocean waves, all these resources can be transformed through science and technology to electricity and all we are looking for is electricity from any energy resources.
So, all these gamut of resources are to be transformed and based on the National Energy Policy we should use all the resources in order to meet our energy need but we must do that in an environmentally friendly manner.