April 15, 2024

Energy transition plan: Nigerian Government seeks justice, accuses European nations of double standard

Oredola Adeola

The Nigerian Government has accused the European countries of playing a double standard, based on recent announcements to increase or extend their use of coal-fired power generation beyond  2023, in total violation of the climate commitments and the resolve they made to end carbon emissions by 2050.  

Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Nigerian Vice President, revealed this in his speech at the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Oil Producers Trade Section, OPTS held at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, in Lagos recently.  

Speaking on the topic: “Nigeria Transitioning to Green Energy”, Professor Osinbajo highlighted some problematic issues in the energy transition process, revealing that the coal plants in Europe, at some point in the campaign against carbon emission, were said to have been decommissioned.

He said, “The moment an energy crisis arose, these decommissioned plants were quickly brought back into use. This is in violation of their climate commitments. Experts’ analysis suggested that this will raise power sector emissions of the EU by 4% – a significant amount, given the high base denominator of EU emissions.”

The Nigerian Vice President lamented that the EU’s decision to defund gas projects in order to force gas-rich countries like Nigeria to stop using gas and use renewable energy sources instead is faulty.

He said, “These proposals to ban the funding of fossil fuel projects make no distinction between upstream oil and coal exploration, and gas power plants for grid balancing.

“Also, no economy in the world has been known to use renewables, solely, to industrialize. Solar power simply does not have the base load capacity yet for industry,” the VP said.

He further disclosed that while the Russia- Ukrainian war has shown again, the double standards in not allowing public funding for fossil fuel projects, the wealthier nations are still of the view that defunding hydrocarbon project is the correct policy and that even if public funding is to be allowed financing should not go beyond 2035.

Osinbajo, therefore insisted that the world must provide necessary funding for Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, to transit in a manner that would work and make sense. He said that the threat of no investments in the fossil fuels sector is unfair.

He said, “Nigeria’s response has been the Energy Transition Plan. A comprehensive, data-driven and evidence-based plan, designed to deal with the twin crises of climate change and energy poverty.

“We anchored the plan on key objectives, including lifting 100 million people out of poverty in a decade, driving economic growth, bringing modern energy services to the full population, and managing the expected long-term job loss in the oil sector due to global decarbonization.
“Given these objectives, the plan recognizes the role that natural gas must play in the short term and medium term to facilitate the establishment of baseload energy capacity and address the nation’s clean cooking deficit in the form of LPG.
“Gas is of course critical to integrating a greater share of renewable energy in Nigeria’s energy mix. Also natural gas (methane) is an important chemical feedstock, especially for ammonia production for fertilizers.
“To achieve these objectives by 2060, we would need $410billion or $ 10 billion per annum above business as usual spending. Where do we get this from?” Prof Osinbajo insisted.

He noted that Nigeria has made the case to be included on the  G7 Climate partners list which should attract significant funding. He added that in addition to conventional capital flows both from public and private sources, local and international, being on the G7 partner’s list would pave the way for financing the ETP.  

He said, “South Africa got about over $ 8 million in order to decommission one of their coal plants, and we say that you cannot talk about a transition without adequate funding.

“ Again, we have made the point repeatedly that we are not at all the worst emitters and even if we triple our energy use today, we would still be the least emitters and pollutants.

“The staple wisdom is that coal and fossil fuels are major pollutants. That being the case, it is proposed that countries and corporations should gradually reduce the use of these high pollutants and instead use renewable energy such as solar, wind, and hydro and completely stop the use of these carbon emitters by the agreed target date of 2050.
“Now most countries including Nigeria, of course, agree that we must reduce global emissions to zero, in our case, our target is by 2060.

“African countries are the least emitters of carbon today, less than 1 percent of cumulative Co2 emissions and even if we triple electricity consumption in African countries (aside from South Africa) solely through the use of natural gas, this would add just 0.6% to global emissions.

“ So a lot of the flooding and adverse weather events that we are experiencing here are from emissions caused by the wealthier countries.

“We are major victims of the effects of climate change, but there are a few important issues that we have flagged to our wealthier brother-countries in the global north who want to move at a quick pace towards the targets that have been set.

Professor Osinbajo also argued that stopping the use of gas means that Nigerians cannot use LPG for clean cooking stoves to replace the use of kerosene, firewood, and charcoal which are dirtier fuels that are widely used for cooking and other domestic purposes, particularly in rural areas.

He said, “The use of firewood means cutting down trees and of course desertification and then the loss of our carbon sinks. Our carbon sinks are possibly the best in the world, much more effective than carbon sinks in the Amazon and several other parts of the world.

Suggesting quick wins for Nigerian, Professor Osinbajo charged stakeholders in the energy industry and the government to take pragmatic and informed actions in the country’s national interest. He added that Nigeria must take the threat of no investments in the fossil fuels sector including gas seriously.

He said, “For example, many European and other global North countries are setting aggressive targets for use of electric vehicles and that means the banning of combustion engine vehicles. Soon there may be only a few countries using combustion engines.”

Speaking further, the Nigerian Vice President noted that the Voluntary Carbon Markets in the country can play a significant role in directing private capital into climate action.

 He said, “It is also essential that we participate fully in the global carbon finance market, in addition to all of our other expectations for funding for the transition.   

Professor Osinbajo, therefore, charged the private sector to be fully involved in the transition to a green energy journey, suggesting that they must participate more actively in the conversations interrogating what an economically just transition to zero emissions should actually look like.

He also urged the OPTS to take the lead in solar to help drive improvements in our energy mix and also accelerate the transition to having “energy” companies, not just oil companies.

The Nigerian Vice President insisted the private sector must play a pivotal role by getting involved in climate finance and the thinking around climate finance, especially the Voluntary Carbon Markets.