Gas flaring: Nigeria is not committed to the Paris Agreement it signed in 2016, here is why
ON 22nd September 2016 the Federal Government signed the Paris Agreement as part of its commitment to join global efforts to reduce climate change impacts due to increased emission of Green House Gases (GHG).
On 16th May 2017 the agreement was ratified.
The ratification listed Nigeria as 146th nation to approve the treaty based on provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Though Nigeria has been involved in international climate policy discussions since it became member of the UNFCCC in 1994, this commitment which is being implemented via the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) has been repeatedly renewed at the annual Climate Change Conferences of Party (COP), including the just concluded COP25 held in Madrid, Spain.
Specifically, the Nigerian government listed eight areas of interest it proposed to reduce carbon emissions. They include 2030 target to end gas flaring, 45 per cent conditional and 20 per cent unconditional emission reduction of carbon, Off-Grid Solar up to 13 Giga Watts and Reforestation.
Other measures include Climate Smart Agriculture, Promote use of Bus to discourage massive use of Cars, improve the electricity grid and to attain 30 per cent energy efficiency by 2030.
In fact, the government through Department of Climate Change in the Ministry of Environment streamlined the NDCs to a multi-sectoral approach for easy implementation – Energy, Oil and Gas, Power, Transport, Agriculture & Land Use.
In September, at the United Nations Climate Actions Summit held in New York, President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed plans to plant 25 million trees to increase forest cover in the country. He also mentioned the Great Green Wall project and green bond.
More words, less action
As at May 2019, Nigeria’s gas deposit has risen to 200.7 trillion cubic feet, most of which are still be flared.
However, despite the pledges, the federal government has not done much to fulfil part of its bargain to reduce gas flaring. In fact, it has gone worse.
From the failed Great Green Wall project, an afforestation programme in the 11 northern states, to coal exploration as alternative to generate electricity, to continuous flaring of gases in the Niger Delta region, weak environmental protection from both National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) among others. No doubt, so much is still expected from the authorities on climate actions.
However, Climate action interventions to achieve the NDCs have come majorly from local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). They engage in sensitisations, tree planting, and waste recycling among others with supports from international development agencies.
Gas flaring pollutes environment, damages host communities
For specifics, The ICIR, however, looked into a major NDC – gas flaring which is capable of promoting energy efficiency, reduce air pollution and carbon emission.
It can also increase access to domestic energy, especially for cooking by 100 million rural women who depend on the felling of trees to meet energy need. Sadly, 98, 000 Nigerians still suffer from the use of firewood which the flared gases could have checked if channelled for local use.
But from all indications, gas is still being flared in the country, despite appending a signature to the international treaty. Though, flaring of gas by International Oil Companies (OICs) was officially banned in 1984, the government has failed to halt the dangerous trend to date.
Rather than stopping flared gas, oil companies are charged to pay fines, usually captured in the tax remitted to the federal government.
The NDC document submitted to the UNFCCC also revealed that Nigeria has emitted 2,564.02 million tonnes of carbon from 1850 to 2010.
In fact, from 2014 to 2018, a 2018 report by the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGPR) ranked Nigeria 7th in the list of highest global emitters. It was followed by Libya while Russia topped the list.
The GGPR report, based on satellite data, estimated an increase in global gas flared. This increase pegged at 3 per cent is approximately 145 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas.
This accounts for almost a total annual gas consumption of Central and South America.
Efforts made through NGFCP has yielded less result because gas is still being flared daily.
As such, 2020 initial target is no longer realistic. The new target is now 2030.
In August, Justice Derefaka, Programme Manager of the NGFCP announced that the federal government could no longer meet the 2020 deadline as promised, thus the need for a shift.
It is barely five days to the initial target but it is clear that gas flaring will continue beyond 2020.