Frontline Professor of International Law and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Damilola Olawuyi (SAN) has called on governments and business enterprises to scale up responsible energy investments needed to defeat rising energy poverty levels and energy injustice across the world.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who is also the global vice chair of the International Law Association, made this call at the George Washington (GW) University Law School in Washington DC, United States where he delivered the Inaugural J. B and Maurice C. Shapiro Distinguished Lecture on Global Climate Change and Energy Law. The lecture series features globally recognized experts and leaders who are invited to address pressing issues in climate change and energy law, and to inform and inspire the legal and global community in the United States and beyond. This year’s lecture was attended by lawyers in government, business, and academia, as well as non-lawyers in financial, engineering, science, and sustainability spheres.

In her opening remarks, the Dean of the GW Law School, Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew commended and thanked the Distinguished Lecturer, Professor Olawuyi, SAN for his ongoing leadership and commitment to climate and energy justice across the world, and for accepting the law school’s invitation to serve as the very first speaker in the series.

In his distinguished lecture titled “The Search for Climate and Energy Justice in the Global South: Shifting from Global Aspirations to Local Realization,” Olawuyi analyzed how efforts to address development concerns, such as delivering clean, affordable, low carbon energy to address climate change, may complicate energy poverty and injustice, in vulnerable and low-income communities, especially in Africa, if appropriate safeguards are not put in place.

He lamented how continued emphasis on decarbonization, without commensurate flow of investments, funding and technologies to Africa that is required to scale up renewable and low carbon energy programs, may result in unjust transitions, massive economic crises, and could weaken the abilities of countries in the Global South to accelerate progress on all aspects of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, SAN noted “In 2022, more than 1 billion people (13% of the world’s total population) still lack access to electricity, with about 600 million of those in Africa. Even in communities with energy access, reliability and affordability remain key issues. Environmentally preferable transition fuels, such as natural gas, have key roles to play in addressing the current energy poverty emergency facing our current world. There is therefore an urgent need for business enterprises, governments, and all key stakeholders to scale up energy and climate-smart infrastructure investments needed to defeat rising energy poverty levels and enhance a just, inclusive, and rights-based energy transition that leaves no one behind.”

He called for coherent laws, policies, and capacity development programs to ensure sound environmental, social and governance (ESG) outcomes in energy transition actions and projects, so that efforts to achieve low carbon transition do not result in social exclusions and human rights violations, as underscored by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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