President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that ending international funding for gas as fossil fuel would create dire challenges for gas-producing countries, especially those in Africa.
Buhari said that Nigeria had started transiting from petrol to natural gas in line with global net-zero emission target.
He also restated his administration’s vow to making access to reliable energy affordable for Nigerians as one of the ways of promoting the net-zero emission goal.
He spoke during a virtual meeting of the Africa Regional Heads of Government Commonwealth Roundtable chaired by Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.
The President was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) at the meeting attended by the Presidents Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi), Julius Bio (Sierra Leone), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), Mokgweesi Masisi (Botswana), and Adama Barrow (The Gambia). Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland was also at the event.
Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity (Office of the Vice President), Laolu Akande, said Nigeria supports the goal of the Commonwealth “in outlining responsible transition pathways to decarbonise and achieve net and negative zero emissions.”
He re-emphasised the efforts of his administration through its Economic Sustainability Plan to provide many Nigerian homes with cleaner energy through solar power programme, as well as the Natural Gas Expansion Programme.
The President said: “We have the goal of installing solar homes systems in about five 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.”
Specifically, Buhari called on the Commonwealth to consider ways to support African countries in achieving a just transition to net-zero emissions.
He said: ”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 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 defunding of natural gas projects by the European Union, and the World Bank has also been indicating that natural gas projects would be defunded.
“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 fuel.”
While urging more support and cooperation from the Commonwealth, he added that the Federal Government remains “resolutely committed to all of our national development contributions under all of our agreements, the Paris Agreement, and will support all actions that are taken along the lines of zero emissions.”
The Prince of Wales had called for a series of roundtables to find 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.
Earlier in his speech, the President restated the condolences of the government and people of Nigeria on the recent passing of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Noting that “Prince Philip was much loved and admired here in Nigeria,” the President prayed that his memory would be blessed always.