CURTIS WILLIAMS

Nigeria’s vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo for what he called a just energy transition for developing countries and energy producers like T&T.

Speaking yesterday at Columbia University’s Global Energy summit the Nigerian Vice President insisted that a just energy transition for developing economies is central to the right to sustainable development and poverty eradication which he noted is enshrined in global treaties including the Paris agreement.

He raised the spectre of several European countries and development finance institutions banning further investments in fossil fuels.

“Globally we are seeing wealthier nations and development finance institutions banning all public investments in fossil fuels, including natural gas. Examples include the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Denmark to name a few. As well as specific institutions such as the Sweed fund from Sweden, CDC from the UK, the European Investment Bank and the Investment Fund for developing countries from Denmark.”

Nigeria’s vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

The Nigerian vice president said while there are other institutions that recognise that fossil fuels should be broken down into different types of fuels, for example natural gas vs coal production.

He pointed to pressure being placed on the African Development Bank to stop funding such projects in Africa.

Professor Osinbajo said the situation is made even more glaring when one considers that countries, including the US, China, Japan and other large parts of Asia and the EU include natural gas as major pillars of their multi-decade decarbonisation strategy. Including actively developing African gas in countries like Mozambique, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria for export to Asia and Europe, while limiting financing for gas projects for domestic use in those same countries.

“Limiting the development of gas projects poses dire challenges for African nations while making an insignificant dent in global emissions…to completely end all fossil investments, including investments in natural gas is not in the interest of anyone.”

Nigeria’s vice president warns that his approach does not appear to sufficiently take into account the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and leaving no one behind that are enshrined in the global treaties around sustainable development and climate action.

Calling the term “energy transition” a curious one Professor Osinbajo asked the conference: what would equity look like in the transition? Or what is the case for equity?

He argued that in answering this question excluding South Africa, the remaining one billion people in sub-Saharan Africa, are serviced by a power generation capacity of just 81 gigawatt and they have contributed less than one per cent of cumulative co2 emissions.

The Nigerian vice president posited that most countries on the African continent are low emission energy-poor countries, with per capita emission between 0.8 and one tonne of co2 and an average of less than two tonnes if Northern and Southern Africa are added in.

“So even tripling electricity consumption in these countries, baring South Africa, would add just 0.6 per cent to global emissions. By comparison the US emissions stands at 15.5 tonnes per capita while on average Europe has per capita emission of 6.5 tonnes,” Professor Osinbajo noted.

He asked what is the case for justice and fairness?

Professor Osinbajo said its not easy to transition from the use of natural gas for industry or the production of fertiliser, and cooking and it is to move away from power generation.

He said Nigeria and other African countries were trying to transition from petrol to CNG and LPG to replace a huge amounts of charcoal and kerosene, in the process saving millions of lives lost due to indoor charcoal cooking.

He said natural gas use will strengthen power transmission and help the cause of renewables.

“Gas is possibly the most sensible transition fuel that we can find and clearly that notion that gas is an acceptable transition fuel is one that appears to be acceptable to several countries,” he ended.

(Editor’s note: T&T is a major exporter of LNG, fertilisers and uses only natural gas in its electricity production.)