BusinessDay

Nigeria’s need for energy justice ahead of COP27

Recently, approximately 210,000 Naira (500 USD) was spent to purchase a new petrol-powered generator, which had the capacity to power a cake mixer, refrigerator and other appliances used by a small confectionery business in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

This was an unplanned expense which came after the country experienced a series of national grid collapses, leading to long power outages and business losses for Maureen, a small-scale cake and pastries baker and founder of Aine’s Bake Shop in Lugbe, Abuja.

She recalled the impact of the almost one-month epileptic power supply on her business, which made her purchase the generator with money that had been earmarked for the expansion of her business. The lack of power supply brought along with it a myriad of challenges, especially working below her operational capacity.

There can be no energy transition without energy access and there can be no far-reaching energy access without the right levels of investment

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy. The country’s potential as a global economic powerhouse is constrained by energy poverty. Energy as we know is the capacity to do work, and this impacts significantly on the overall GDP per capita of citizens.

As Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo rightly said, Energy use is important for every conceivable aspect of development, health, nutrition, infrastructure, and education among other sectors.

At 45 percent, Nigeria has one of the highest energy access deficits globally and about 92 million Nigerians still lack access to electricity, and a significant part of the demand is met by standby fossil fuel generators.

The book, ‘The Age of Sustainable Development’ by senior United Nations Advisor Jeffrey Sachs states that for every ton of oil-equivalent energy used in the world, 2.4 tons of CO2 is emitted, however, the exact amount of CO2 can vary from source to source as it could get to as high as 4 tons of CO2 for coal.

Energy is an essential part of everything we do as it accounts for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions contributing significantly to the climate crisis. Just as CEO, SEforAll and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, Damilola Ogunbiyi said, we must address climate change, energy poverty and development, recognising that countries at different stages of development require sufficient, sustainable energy to grow economies as well as develop along a low carbon pathway.

Clean energy access opportunity

Hydroelectric power, solar power, and wind power all release zero CO2 and are thereby highly desirable from the point of view of heading off climate change.

The effect of climate change is increasingly impacting every aspect of human life and has sparked the clamour for climate justice. We cannot proceed with the call for climate justice without a call for energy justice and a need for a just energy transition.

Ahead of COP27, there is a need to show how the world will benefit if Africa achieves its green development goals, phasing out fossil fuels in countries such as Nigeria and embracing renewable energy, and gas generation among other sustainable energy sources.

The country’s geographical location, being in the Sahel region puts it in an advantageous position for the utilization of its renewable energy potential as it is one of the countries in the Sahel with more solar energy production capacity than other regions in the world.

Ahead of COP27, Nigeria needs to strategically position itself for possible investment and partnerships to achieve the required investment for the actualization of the energy transition.

During COP26 held in Glasgow, G7 Nations announced an 8.5 billion USD South Africa Just energy transition partnership to support the phase-out of coal.

Nigeria must seek a similar partnership to phase out the use of fossil fuels and embrace alternative and more sustainable energy sources as we prepare for COP27.

Read also: How FG’s Energy Transition Plan will tackle energy poverty, climate change

Nigeria’s energy transition plan

At COP26, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the audacious commitment of the country to achieve carbon neutrality (Net Zero) by 2060. Since the announcement to go carbon neutral, the Climate Change Act 2021 was passed and approved by the Federal Government, and an Energy Transition Plan group was formed, chaired by Vice president Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. The country on the 24th of August, 2022 ahead of COP27 launched its Energy Transition Plan (ETP), aimed at reducing emissions and powering development.

To achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, the country requires 10 billion USD annually, which is 410 billion USD above business as usual spending leading up to 2060.

This financial requirement according to the country’s minister of finance Zainab Ahmed is broken down to 150 billion USD net expense for improving generation capacity, 135 billion USD for building transmission and distribution infrastructure, 79 billion USD for developing clean cooking solutions, 21 billion USD on decarbonizing industries and 12 billion USD each on transport and oil and gas decarbonisation.

The ETP plan is geared towards low carbon emission of energy systems across five (5) key sectors namely power, industry, cooking, transport and oil and gas.

According to Federal Minister of State for Power Jedy Agba, we need the energy to industrialize, create thousands of jobs and improve the living standards of our people. However, this expansion must be done in a sustainable fashion.

Africa has contributed the least at 4% compared to any other global region to both historical and current CO2 emissions. Yet, the continent is said to be the hardest hit by the impact of climate change.

Recent reports show that Africa is warming faster than the global average. We need to ensure energy security for our country while reducing our carbon footprint. Partnerships are a critical component of this transition plan.

There can be no energy transition without energy access and there can be no far-reaching energy access without the right levels of investment.

What next and how Nigeria can be best positioned

The private sector has a crucial role to play in helping Nigeria meet its new target. Improving the investment of the private sector in the energy transition will require putting in place an enabling policy and regulatory environment by the government.

The need for the proper execution of the ETP irrespective of a change in government between now and 2060 is important and utilization of funding is expedient.

So far, the World Bank as well as the US Export-import Bank individually pledged $1.5billion each to kick off the ETP implementation. Ahead of COP27, we must emphasize the fact that any climate strategy that does not prioritize the rapid build-up of energy access is unjust.

The industrialized countries that have polluted the most must make a maximum effort to reduce emissions and facilitate huge investments in developing nations.

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