Nigeria vows to reach net-zero by 2060, highlights key role of gas in energy transition

During the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged Nigeria will cut its carbon emissions and reach net-zero by 2060, underlining the key role of gas in the country’s energy transition roadmap.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari; Source: The Statehouse, Abuja

While nations such as the UK,  the United States, and the European Union have set targets to achieve net-zero by 2050, Nigeria has opted to join Saudi Arabia and Russia in vowing to reach net-zero by 2060. This target is lagging 10 years behind the recommended deadline, which the UN along with many climate scientists would like to achieve to stop global warming.

President Buhari explained on Tuesday that Nigeria was aware of the danger presented by climate change: “I do not think anyone in Nigeria needs persuading of the need for urgent action on the environment. Desertification in the North, floods in the centre, pollution and erosion on the coast are enough evidence. For Nigeria, climate change is not about the perils of tomorrow but what is happening today. Nigeria is committed to net-zero by 2060.”

The Paris Agreement has set the transition expectations in motion, thus, the countries are supposed to move away from fossil fuel to clean energy to reach a net-zero target for greenhouse gas emissions.

The Nigerian leader outlined arguments for the gas-based energy transition in Nigeria, stating: “Nigeria is actually more of a gas than an oil-producing country. Consequently, I am requesting financing of projects using transition fuels, such as gas. Nigeria has energy challenges for which, we believe, gas can be used to balance a renewable energy-based system, be it wind or sun. This would enable us to launch the long-term renewable energy infrastructure procurements and investments needed to have a sustainable energy supply.”

Many have argued that energy transition could lead to economic transformation across all sectors and Buhari seems to agree with this. However, the Nigerian leader strongly believes the transition would require infrastructure, which would need to be established and put in place to move forward with the transformation of the energy sector.

During the COP26 Leaders’ Summit, the Nigerian president indicated that the country had already developed a detailed energy transition plan and roadmap: “Our transition plan also highlights the key role that gas will play in transitioning our economy across sectors, and the data and evidence show that Nigeria can continue to use gas until 2040 without detracting from the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Buhari says that gas is the key to addressing the clean energy challenge in Nigeria while explainining the country will have to incorporate an unprecedented 7 GW of additional renewable capacity on an annual basis to reach net-zero. Furthermore, Buhari argued that Nigeria’s commitment to energy transition was clearly visible within the government’s project, aiming to electrify 5 million households and 25 million people with solar energy.

“In Nigeria, in the area of energy access, Nigeria’s commitment to a just transition is reflected in our initial energy compact which includes the government’s flagship project to electrify 5 million households and 25 million people using decentralised solar energy solution. This is a major step towards closing our energy access deficit by 2030,” explained Buhari.

The Nigerian leader mentioned climate change projects would be a part of the country’s budget: “I am happy to state that the 2022 budget, which I recently submitted to our National Assembly, is the first cross-sectoral, gender and climate-responsive budget ever prepared in the annals of our history.”

According to its president, Nigeria will need financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity building from advanced international players on the energy transition scene.

“We are looking for partners in innovation, technology and finance to make cleaner and efficient use of all available resources to make a more sustainable transition in energy markets,” added Buhari.

According to Bloomberg, the Nigerian president already announced earlier this year that the country would need more than $400 billion for electricity generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure if its plans to reduce dependence on fossil fuels were to be successfully implemented.

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Buhari concluded his speech by urging: ‘‘The outcome of this conference must result in quick resolution of all outstanding issues pertaining to the finalization of the Paris Agreement rulebook, adaptation, mitigation, finance, Article 6 and loss and damage.’’

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