Editorial

Nigeria’s future away from crude oil

It is high time Nigeria and her citizens begin to think big, smart and futuristic. With news coming from developed countries of Europe, the Americas and parts of Asia, it is time for us to drop primitive promotion of communal idiosyncrasies in favour of the future of the children of this land. No better time to do this than now that  Britain is set to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 amid fears that rising levels of nitrogen oxide pose a major risk to public health. For the records, 2040 is exactly 23 years from today.

The commitment, which follows a similar pledge in France, is part of the government’s much-anticipated clean air plan, which has been at the heart of a protracted high court legal battle. This is as countries like Sweden have pledged to end petrol and diesel usage as early as less than five years time.

The government warned that the move, which will also take in hybrid vehicles, was needed because of the unnecessary and avoidable impact that poor air quality was having on people’s health. Ministers believe it poses the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK, costing up to £2.7bn in lost productivity in one recent year.

Ministers have been urged to introduce charges for vehicles to enter a series of “clean air zones” (CAZ). However, the government only wants taxes to be considered as a last resort, fearing a backlash against any move that punishes motorists. “Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible,” a government spokesman said.

“That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans, as part of an ambitious £3bn programme to clean up dirty air around our roads”. The final plan, which was due by the end of July, comes after a draft report which environmental lawyers described as “much weaker than hoped for”. Measures to be urgently brought in by local authorities that have repeatedly breached EU rules include retrofitting buses and other public transport, changing road layouts and altering features such as roundabouts and speed humps. Reprogramming traffic lights will also be included in local plans, with councils being given £255m to accelerate their efforts. Local emissions hotspots will be required to layout their plans by March 2018 and finalise them by the end of the year. A targeted “scrappage” scheme is also expected to be included.

The French president took the steps to help his country meet its targets under the Paris climate accord, in an announcement that came a day after Volvo said it would only make fully electric or hybrid cars from 2019 onwards.That decision was hailed as the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine’s dominance of motor transport after more than a century. Prof David Bailey, an automotive industry expert at Aston University, said: “The timescale involved here is sufficiently long-term to be taken seriously. If enacted it would send a very clear signal to manufacturers and consumers of the direction of travel and may accelerate a transition to electric cars.” Britain’s air quality package also includes £1bn in ultra-low emissions vehicles including investing nearly £100m in the UK’s charging infrastructure and funding the ”plug-in car” and “plug-in grant” schemes. There will also be £290m for the national productivity investment fund, which will go towards the retrofitting, and money towards low-emission taxis.

What all these mean is a bleak future for everyone that relies on crude oil to be important on the international stage. Nigeria which statistically is the sixth largest producer of crude will definitely be on decline. If car engines are no longer made to run on petrol or diesel then who is going to buy our crude? This also means that all prices will begin to drop even before the said date. If in two years time major vehicles maker like Volvo will no longer make engines that run on petrol, this means other car makers will join even before the British 2040 timeline. Do not forget Britain is a major stakeholder in our crude oil industry.

With less and less cars running on petrol price of crude will crash and Nigeria which depends on crude for majority of its foreign earnings will run into deep crisis. Therefore, it is important we begin today to think outside the box. Agriculture and its value chain are important but so also is technology. Technology is powered by education and innovation. Nigeria and her states must begin now to diversify to avoid the calamity that will come. They say, stitch in time saves nine.

 

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