An address by Dr. Iniobong Essien on 2019 World Environment Day in Akwa Ibom State

Friday, June 14th, 2019 | News

AN ADDRESS BY  DR INIOBONG ESSIEN, THE IMMEDIATE PAST HON. COMMISSIONER MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND SOLID MINERALS ON THE OCCASION OF 2019 ENVIRONMENT DAY (WED) CELEBRATION HELD AT THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE ANNEX ON JUNE  14, 2019

Today, Akwa Ibom State joins the rest of the world to mark World Environment Day world environment day is celebrated annually on the 5th of June to raise environmental consciousness  of the people towards sustaining and enhancing the quality of our planet for man’s survival. the event also serves as a platform to create awareness among individuals, Organizations and Nations of the world to take positive actions toward creating an eco-friendly environment.

Each year, the celebration centers on a specific theme. The theme for this year’s celebration is “BEAT AIR POLLUTION”. The theme is a call to action to combat one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time, Air Pollution. It also invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollutants we produce, and thwart its contribution to global warming and its effects on our health. 2019 World Environment Day also urges Governments, Industries, Communities and individuals too come together to explore renewable energy, green technologies and improve air quality in cities and regions across the world.

When the term “AIR POLLUTION” is mentioned, people tend to reflect more on outdoor air pollution. On the contrary, air pollution encompasses both outdoor and indoor and the two contribute to global warming, climate change and moreover, indoor air pollution is even injurious to human health. World Health Organizations statistics reveals that approximately 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution, with about 4 million of these  deaths occurring in Asian-Pacific. Nine out of ten people worldwide as exposed to levels of air pollutants that exceed those considered as safe by the World Health Organization.

Air Pollution exposure at home and offices is often times greater than that of the outdoor. In developing countries like Nigeria, a fairly large proportion of the population is dependent on biomass such as wood, charcoal, agricultural residue, animal waste and kerosene for their needs. Household combustion are estimated to produce 25% of global emission of black carbon which is the second largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide (CO2) and a major component of particulate matter. The use of kerosene ads a household fuel in unvented wick cooking stove or kerosene lamps generates high levels of carbon monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), and Sulfur Dioxides. Carbon Monoxide is very dangerous as it decreases blood oxygen level in the body. Acute carbon monoxide exposure can be fatal, while chronic NOX exposures can exacerbate a range of respiratory ailments. Household air pollution is estimated to be responsible for close to 500,000 of the 3.9 million premature deaths each year from ambient air pollution.

Women experience high exposure to air pollution and are greater health risk due to their greater involvement in household activities such as cooking, sometimes with infants or children in close proximity. Cooking with household coal, biomass and kerosene stoves emit black carbon which particles remains airborne for few days or weeks indoors thereby leading to health complications. Reducing their emissions by switching to clean energy can also reduce climate change and its significant health risk.

Air pollution doesn’t just impact human health and economic growth but also causes global warming. If we were to reduce the emissions of such pollutants, we could slow global warming by up to 0.5C over the next few decades. Methane is another culprit; a large percentage of which comes from agriculture, methane emissions contributes to ground level ozone. It is also a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide:- it impact is 34 times greater over 100 years period, according to the International Panel of Climate Change. This is therefore, a clarion call by the United Nations for the reduction of emissions of black carbon and other gaseous pollutants and particulate matters that causes an indoor air pollution.

Here in the state, the environment friendly government of His Excellency Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel had proactively prepared the state for going GREEN by hosting the 1st AKWA IBOM STATE CLIMATE CHANGE AND CLEAN ENERGY SUMMIT/EXPOS in 2016. One of the outcomes was the development of the Road Map for Sustainable (GREEN) Development of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria (2016 – 2030) with coverage of climate resilience, creation of green jobs and issuance of inclusiveness. The ministry through the department of forestry has planted trees in the state massively. The ministry also partners with NGOs to plant trees in the state. As part of the ministry waste to wealth project and job creation, the ministry has signed an MOU with P & A environmental solutions limited on the establishment and recycling plant pin Akwa Ibom State. The government has the process of transiting to clean energy establishing the department of renewable energy in the ministry of Science and Technology. In a bid to phase out unprocessed coal and kerosene as household fuels, the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the state Government is distributing gas cylinder and some clean cooking stoves to women to help reduce air pollution and climate change pollution.

Since we are part of the environment, it is my hope that as we celebrate with other states of the Federation in this year’s World Environment Day. We will take positive actions and be responsible in our activities towards the environment.

Therefore, as we mark this year’s World Environment Day, let us all be conscious of our activities that influence air pollution such as burning tyres especially during the yuletide season, burning of waste in the open.

Together we can improve upon our air quality

Better Air! Better Health!! Better Life!!!

Happy Celebration

Thank you

 

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