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Household Energy Demand In Northeastern Nigeria and Climate Change

22 February 2018


Yakaka B Maina

In recent times, climate change has become a major topic of discussion. Many human activities such as household energy usage, have been identified to contribute to the ongoing climate change. Scientific evidence suggests that flooding, drought, intense summer heat, violent storms and other extreme weather events could all result from increased energy stored in our warming atmosphere. We hereby discuss this issue with a doctoral researcher at Usman Danfodio University, Nigeria, who works on the contribution of household unsustainable energy demand to climate change.

Tell us about yourself and schools attended
My name is Yakaka (Bilkisu) Bukar Maina from Nguru Local Government. I attended Girgiri Primary School Nguru, and then had my junior Secondary School Education at Queen Amina College Kaduna and my Senior Secondary School Education in Federal Government Girls College Potiskum. I did my Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State. I am currently concluding my PhD in Economics at Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto, Nigeria.  

What is your PhD research focusing on? 
I work on a multidisciplinary project, covering aspects of Energy, Environment, Economics and Chemistry. It involves the use of conversion factors of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission from various energy sources demanded by households to determine how they contribute to Climate Change. The study gave special emphasis to the demand for inefficient energy sources and its contribution to global warming.  

What do you mean by energy demand and in what ways? 
The household energy demand in this respect includes all sources of energy that are used by households, which includes energy for lighting, cooking, in vehicles etc 

Why did you develop an interest in the area? 
Actually, the choice of this topic was influenced by the fact that climate change has become a major cause of concern lately, which requires both hands to be on deck to mitigate it. Thus,  I decided to look at the contribution of the household sector because many people have the perception that the developing economies and especially the household sector don't contribute to climate change. 

You are an Economist, how does your area relate to Climate Change? 
Well, climate change is a global environmental problem that has a serious impact on the lives of every living thing. Thus, it has transcended the boundaries of science and environmentalism and has also become a mainstream political and economic sciences. As Energy/Environmental Economists, our roles are to identify the types of energy used by people and the rate at which they contribute to climate change in order to inform policy decisions of taxing or paying subsidy on the energy sources, to achieve a sustainable environment. 

Is your research focusing on a specific region of the country?  
The work focused on Northeastern Nigeria and empirically analysed the demand for energy at the household level and its contribution to climate change through CO2 emission. Although, energy demand is an essential component for survival of every society, however, the use of inefficient energy sources contributes greatly to global warming through CO2 emission.  

What are some of the findings of your work? 
The results show that all the energy sources used by households are harmful to the environment because they emit a substantial amount of CO2 except for instance electricity. However, it is not as widely used as other energy sources like petroleum used for generators and cars for example. In fact, petrol is the most demanded even though it is environmentally unfriendly. Charcoal emits the highest CO2 content among the different sources of energy, even though it is not being used widely in the area we studied. 

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Will this research inform climate change policy in Nigeria? 

Yes, it will. The findings reiterate the need for the Nigerian government to reinforce the policy of "cut one tree and plant five" in order to act as carbon sinks for the CO2 we emit, which would also help to reduce the rate of deforestation and desertification in the country. Also, there is the need to improve electricity supply through solar energy or other renewable energy options that are environment-friendly. Moreover, the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is less environmentally harmful, should be encouraged by given some incentives to those interested in supplying the product in order to make  it affordable to the consumers. Moreover, the findings of this work prove that subsidy as a policy on fossil fuel especially petroleum in Nigeria is not ideal, especially because it is one of the major CO2 emitter. Thus, in compliance with the Paris agreement, the energy source should be taxed while an efficient alternative means should be provided in order to improve the welfare of the people.    

Do you think people are aware of the need to regulate their energy demand? 

The perception of the public on climate change and its causes is very low let alone knowing the need to regulate their energy demand.  Hence, my advice would be for government and non-governmental organisations to use various medium in creating awareness to the people. The people need to be well informed about the dangers of using harmful fuels to the environment and advised on which energy type is sustainable.

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