Stakeholders in the environment sector have called on the federal government to implement ‘polluters pay’ principle against factories, in order to mitigate air pollution and boost revenue for state governments.
The stakeholders made the call at a one-day workshop for Environmental Correspondents with the theme, “Healthy Environment: Panacea to Sustainable Livelihood” in Abuja.
The Commissioner for Environment Kogi State, Hon. Victor Adewale Omofaiye, in a keynote address called on the federal government to ensure full implementation of ‘Polluters Pay’ principle on factories as a measure to mitigate air pollution.
He said, “Polluters Pay principle is a standard mechanism designed to monitor and control the level of air pollution in industries by way of establishing charges on gaseous pollutants emitted.”
In a goodwill message, the Conservator-General, National Park Service, Dr Ibrahim Goni, called on the federal government to crack down on illegal importation of vehicles into the country in order to reduce pollution by second-hand vehicles exhaustion.
He said more regular vehicle inspections should be carried out to ensure vehicle owners service their cars regularly and old vehicles be lagged off the roads to reduce air pollutants’ emissions.
This he said is because an estimated 12.6 million deaths in the world were globally attributable to the environment in 2012.
He said: “the air people breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink and the ecosystems which sustain them have been estimated to be responsible for 23 per cent of all deaths worldwide which are caused by non-communicable diseases arising from exposure to chemicals, poor air quality, unhealthy lifestyles, conflict, etc.”
He noted that air pollution is the world’s largest single environmental risk to health.
“Some 7 million people across the world die each year as a result of everyday exposure to poor air quality at home and at workplaces.
“Lack of access to clean water and sanitation cause 58 percent of cases of diarrhea diseases in the low and middle-income countries. Inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene result in 3.5 million deaths worldwide representing 25 per cent of the deaths of children younger than 14.
“Some 107,000 people die annually from exposure to asbestos and 654,000 died from exposure to lead in 2010. High-risk occupations include agriculture, mining and construction often with a relatively high proportion of children, youth or migrant workers who have substantially higher rates of fatalities and exposure to chemicals and injuries,” he said.
He added: “making the environment healthier can prevent about 13 million deaths yearly and avoid 13%-37% of the world’s disease burden, such as 40% of deaths from malaria, 41% of deaths from lower respiratory infections and 94% of deaths from diarrheal disease.”
He further called on the government to improve electric power supply in other to ban usage of generators associated with air pollution and respiratory-related health risk at homes and offices.
He said government must provide citizens with affordable clean improved energy stoves and other renewable alternative energies such as solar power and wind energy to replace the use of biomass fuelwood at home which has respiratory health effects on vulnerable groups, mostly women and children.
“All industries in Nigeria be made to adhere to the Federal Government’s air quality regulations and Policy and Environmental Standards,” he added.
The director-general, National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr Rufus Edegba, said contrary to beliefs on the approved genetically modified maize, the Tela maize has no effects on the environment.
He said the application of science and technology was part of efforts to ensure food security in the country.
For his part, Mr Paddy Ezeala in his presentation said Nigeria has lost 37 hectares of its forest land remaining with just four per cent of its total forest land.
He, therefore, called on the government to declare state of emergency on Cross River States parks.