BusinessDay

Osinbajo calls for just energy transition as OPTS marks 60th anniversary

Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s vice president has said that a just energy transition will preclude calls to defund gas projects in order to force gas-rich countries like Nigeria to switch to renewables.
Osinbajo in a recent address to mark the 60-anniversary celebration of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS), an oil sector advocacy group, said the call to ban the funding of fossil fuel projects makes 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 industrialise . Solar power simply does not have the base load capacity yet for industry,” he said.

While there are so many adverse impacts of climate change including floods, desertification, rising water levels, and record high temperatures and the obvious solution to the crisis being to stop carbon emissions and use green energy, the issues are more nuanced.
Poor countries like Nigeria which have made an insignificant contribution to carbon emissions require fossil fuels to develop their economies. Gas is important for clean cooking to replace dirtier sources like firewood. This is why many have balked at the suggestion to stop developing fossil fuels.

“Stopping the use of gas means that we 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 the rural areas. The use of firewood means deforestation, cutting down trees and of course desertification and then the loss of our carbon sinks,” he said.

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He condemned the “double standards that wealthier countries have adopted on this issue.” In the wake of the energy crisis, many European nations have made recent announcements to increase or extend their use of coal-fired power generation through 2023, and potentially beyond.

“This is in violation of their climate commitments, and analysis suggests that this will raise power sector emissions of the EU by 4O degrees – a significant amount, given the high base denominator of EU emissions,” he said.

Osinbajo said Nigeria has drawn up an energy transition plan that will require $10b per annum above business as usual spending to meet its objectives.

To fund the plan, he said in addition to conventional capital flows both from public and private sources local and international, “we also made the case that we should be on the G7 Climate partners list which should attract significant funding,” he said.

Rick Kennedy, managing director of Chevron Nigeria and chairman of the OPTS said the history of OPTS is thus the story of Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production.

“Over the last 60 years, we have evolved as a group and have become partners with Nigeria in the development of a sector that is key to the nation’s economic growth,” he said.

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