UN To Support Nigeria, Africa To Achieve Climate Targets

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… Africa must not be rushed into abandoning fossil fuels – APPO

L-R: The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and the permanent secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Oluwatoyin Akinlade at the ongoing NAFNIS summit in Abuja.

The United Nations (UN) has revealed its plan and willingness to support Nigeria and Africa in its quest of achieving its lofty climate change targets ambition.

The UN deputy secretary-general and chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, Ms. Amina Mohammed said this in her virtual remarks at the ongoing Nigeria-Africa Natural Resource and Energy Summit (NAFFNIS) 2022, themed “Towards a greener Africa” organised by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) and CORE International Mining and Marketing Company and other stakeholders today (June 2, 2022) in Abuja.

She pointed out that though Africa contributed the least to climate change, it is among the regions most exposed to its effect. Also, she noted the need for Africa to embrace sustainability in its growing ambitions for development.

“It is important for Africa and the world that its progressing development is sustainable. Today, less than 50 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity and 900 million people lack access to clean cooking.

“Africa is the world’s fastest growing continent and the youngest. Africa consumes 6.1 per cent of global energy and produces around 4 per cent of world’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

“The way in which Africa develops will have significant implications for the world. It shows the urgent need for African countries to receive financial and technical support now to develop rapidly and sustainably,” she stated.

Mohammed, however, stressed that in the quest for emissions reduction and a speedy transition, the developmental priorities of the continent cannot be sacrificed.

“African nations are demanding a just and equitable transition. I am happy to see that Nigeria is leading the charge in defining, developing, advocating and implementing a just energy transition.

“At COP 26, President Muhammdu Buhari announced Nigeria’s ambition to be net-zero by 2060. There is need to enable a stable transition.

“Nigeria and all other African nations must be supported within the confines of our climate targets to enjoy speedy economic development and to create foundation for a just green and sustainable transition.

“The United Nations will continue to support Nigeria and I believe this is the door for African solutions developed by Africa for the attainment of African priorities,” she added.

In his keynote address, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva underscored the need for issues of climate change and energy poverty to be addressed sustainably.

According to him, the issues surrounding energy poverty, climate and sustainable development are not mutually exclusive. Consequently, the approaches to attending to these issues should not be disconnected. 

The minister pointed out that climate change is definitely a serious concern to Africa. But of equal concern is the alarming level of energy poverty. Both must be addressed in a sustainable manner. It must be a win-win situation. 

“Energy transition is about providing clean energy and not discriminating between energy sources.  In the face of the current high level of energy poverty worldwide, especially in Africa, all energy sources will be required to achieve the sustainable development goal of providing access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.  It is evident that this goal cannot be achieved by renewable energy sources alone. All available energy sources should be considered, while available technologies like the carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) should be employed to make them cleaner.  

“Oil and gas will remain important components of the global energy mix for decades.  They will continue to be needed and essential for propelling global socio-economic development, especially in energy-poor countries, mostly in Africa (specifically sub-Saharan Africa).  Fossil fuel, used with appropriate technologies, should be a part of the solution to climate change in energy-poor countries,” he said.

Sylva highlighted that Nigeria has already made a strong commitment to embracing energy transition by pledging to significantly reduce its GHG under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. 

He asserted that Nigeria needs affordable, reliable and sustainable energy resources to eradicate the prevalent energy poverty in the shortest time possible and propel economic growth. 

“The only viable option currently on the table is natural gas, considering our vast proven gas endowments, put at 209 tcf, with 600 tcf potential reserves.  We cannot ignore this resource, especially when energy poverty is staring at us,” he maintained. 

The minister further said Africa has a key role to play in securing a greener world where clean natural gas is used to power economies sustainably. 

“In particular, Africa’s large gas reserves fit well with our push for industrial growth and the need for reliable and affordable electricity to propel this overdue growth. This is essential for Africa to succeed in eradicating prevalent energy poverty in the shortest time possible,” he added.

He underscored the importance for Africa to stand together to weather the climate change storm, while avoiding losing all recent gains in the quest to pull our vast population out of energy poverty and, hence, economic poverty. 

Speaking virtually on the climate change challenge for the African oil and gas industry, the secretary-general, African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), Dr. Omar Ibrahim, posited that Africa is blessed with various minerals and natural resources and has all it takes to be a major player in the global energy economy.

He added that Africa needs to put its acts together, look within and commit to making the necessary sacrifices now to help it realise its manifest destiny.

Giving APPO’s position on the global issue of climate transition, he said the organisation is not contesting the signs of climate change. “We are not against energy transition, nor is it against fair, just and equitable policy or measure introduced to safeguard the atmosphere from harmful emissions to making life better for human kind.”

He maintained, however, that its position is that measures and policies introduced to check climate change not be uniformly imposed on all societies without regard to their special circumstances, like their level of socioeconomic development, energy poverty, environmental challenges etc.

“What we are saying is that Africa must not be rushed into abandoning fossil fuels which it has in abundance, some 155 billion barrels of oil and 550 trillion sq of gas for some energy whose affordability and reliability is circumspect.

“What we are saying is that Africa is on the verge of industrial breakthrough and shall need all the energy it can get to make this breakthrough a reality. Any attempt to deny Africa access to any particular form of energy at this time shall be construed as an attempt to deny Africa the opportunity to break from the yoke of poverty and underdevelopment,” he added.

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