From the United States to the United Kingdom, Australia to South Africa and from Nigeria to Indonesia; these countries have one thing in common: the ‘break free’ campaign!
Thousands of people across many Continents have taken part in what organizers have called ‘the largest ever global civil disobedience’ against fossil fuels. Although several activists were arrested but some sites were shut down which includes a port, rail infrastructure, oil wells, coalmines and many other Fossil fuel related sites.
What then is ‘break free’ from fossil fuel?
Break free from fossil fuel is a global grassroots action campaign calling on world leaders to transit to a hundred percent renewable energy. In Nigeria, the campaign kicked off on May 10 2016 at the site of Nigeria’s first oil well, Oloibiri. The abandoned oil well there tells the story of what happens to the community when the well runs dry! By May 12, the campaign moved to Bori in Ogoni land where oil extraction has brought untold hardship, internal crises and poverty to host communities.
Finally on May 14, 2016, the campaign ended at Ibeno, in Akwa Ibom State where Exxon operates an offshore oil field that compromises the livelihood of that community also.
Why are all these global campaigns important?
I had an exclusive interview with Olakunle Adewale, a therapeutic artist; a Mandela Washington Fellow and the Founder/CEO of Arts in Medicine Africa on what his thoughts are with respect to the ‘break free’ global campaign. Find excerpts below:
Hello Sir, can I meet you please?
I am Kunle Adewale, a therapeutic artist, CEO Arts in Medicine Africa
What do you do at Arts in Medicine?
A lot, but would let you into one. We facilitate art therapy sessions with children and young adults living with chronic illnesses like sickle cell anaemia. We are actively involved with Sickle Cell Foundation, Nigeria. This puts smiles on their faces, thereby granting them access to therapeutic healing.
So, what’s your thought on climate change?
Okay… well, climate change is change in the average temperatures on the earth’s surface. This leads to a rise in sea levels and is responsible for global warming. The primary cause of global warming is human activity, most significantly, the burning of fossil fuels to drive cars, generate electricity and run our homes and factories.
Yes, fossil fuels! Are you aware of the health hazards?
Fossil fuels endanger our lives and are responsible for some sicknesses. Depending on the level of exposure, there are health hazards ranging from cough to liver poisoning, liver cancer, keratosis and some other diseases. It’s really important to create awareness on this topic to get people to be aware of these fuels and their effects on the climate and on our health.
What’s your opinion about the ‘break free’ campaign?
It’s a laudable project and kudos to those on the front burner. It’s time people have access to information about fossil fuels and how detrimental they are to our health. Enough of conferences that are just talking the talk without doing the work! Now is the time for action! Am happy Nigeria is taking this seriously too as we weren’t left behind in this world of massive campaigns.
Now that Nigerians have taken up this cause, why do you think as a country, we need to “Break free” of fossil fuels?
It’s really important for us to do so for so many reasons; but I’ll mention just one. The fact that the current government is talking about ‘diversification of the economy, crude is about our only source of revenue generation as a country, but this present administration is looking to stop that and focus on other areas, especially agriculture. If the waters are contaminated through pollution, how do we then do fish farming? Or if our lands are not fertile as a result of pollution, or we have erosion/drought, how do we manage that and thrive with agriculture?
We have to ‘break free’ now so that we can focus on other revenue sources to reduce poverty! Incidentally, this campaign is so important to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so that tells you how important it is.