FG calls on EU to delay ending international gas projects

The federal government has implored the European Union (EU) to put a hold on plans to end international funding for gas as fossil fuel, saying if it is done in a hurry, the move would have dire challenges for gas-producing countries, especially in Africa.

It however declared support for the goal of the Commonwealth in outlining responsible transition pathways to decarbonise and achieve net and negative zero emissions.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, stated the country’s position during a virtual roundtable meeting of the Africa regional heads of government Commonwealth chaired by the Prince of Wales.

He said Nigeria was already on the path of transitioning to the use of cleaner energy in line with the net-zero emissions global target and ensuring more access to affordable, reliable energy for its populace.

Osinbajo noted that Nigeria was already transitioning from petrol to natural gas, which is “accepted more or less as a transition fuel, the bridge to renewable energy.”

The vice president called for a deferral of the plan to defund natural gas projects. He urged the Commonwealth to first of all consider ways to support African countries in achieving a just transition to net zero emissions.

He stated, “This brings me to the questions around a just transition to net zero emissions. And a just transition in our view is one where gas, for those who are from producing countries, as a fossil fuel is still supported, especially for those of us in this part of the world that have vast deposits of the resource. Natural gas is accepted more or less as a transition fuel, the bridge to renewable energy.

“Of course, natural gas is accepted as a transition fuel. But unfortunately, what we are seeing is the move towards de-funding of natural gas projects by the EU, and the World Bank has also been indicating that natural gas projects would be de-funded. Now, this obviously would put countries such as ours in a very dire situation and make the transition extremely difficult for us. What we are focused on trying to do is to ensure that our gas projects replace coal and fuels.”

Calling for more support and cooperation from the Commonwealth, Osinbajo said the Nigerian government is resolutely committed to all of its national development contributions under all agreements, including “the Paris Agreement, and will support all actions that are taken along the lines of zero emissions.”

He further noted the efforts being made by the Buhari administration to provide five million homes with cleaner energy through federal government’s solar power programme as well as the Natural Gas Expansion Programme.

He said, “We have the goal of installing solar homes systems in about 5 million homes, which means that 25 million Nigerians would have access to solar power. This is under our Economic Sustainability Plan. This is the first phase, and we think that this sort of programme will very quickly ramp up our progress towards zero emission.

“We also have our natural gas expansion programme, this is where we are using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in order to replace the use of Premium Motor Spirit, Petrol, and this is going on now, we are actually trying to fit and retrofit existing petrol stations, so that the use of cleaner fossil fuels will replace it.

“We hope that we will be able to achieve this objective as quickly as possible. So, we are resolutely committed to all of our national development contributions under all of our agreements, the Paris Agreement, and we will support all actions that are taken along the lines of zero emissions.”

Earlier, the vice president restated the condolences of the government and people of Nigeria on the demise of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, saying “he was much loved and admired here in Nigeria.”

Osinbajo prayed that the late Prince Philip’s memory would always be blessed.

Earlier, the Prince of Wales had called for a series of roundtables to discuss the best way for the Commonwealth to maintain a forefront position of the global agenda on Climate Change action and post-COVID recovery plans.

The meeting also discussed the economic recovery and sustainable economic transition priorities of member-states.

Other African leaders at the summit include the presidents of Rwanda, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Botswana and Gambia, as well as the Commonwealth secretary-general, Patricia Scotland.

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