Thursday, December 14, 2023

COP28 'Transition Away' From Fossil Fuels deal brings Mixed Reaction in Nigeria

A deal struck at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to “transition away” from fossil fuels received a less-than-hearty welcome Wednesday in Nigeria, which depends on crude oil sales for most of its budget.

Nigerian leaders said that their nation needs funding if the world wants it to move away from the production and use of fossil fuels.

The United Nations’ COP28 summit closed Wednesday with the signing of a deal to transition away from oil, gas and coal in what the text called a "just, orderly and equitable manner" in hopes of reducing carbon emissions and ease global warming.

It is the first such agreement to move away from fossil fuels since the annual conferences began nearly three decades ago.

The deal also seeks to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030 and promote carbon capture technologies that can clean up hard-to-decarbonize industries.

The president of the COP28, the UAE’s Sultan al-Jaber, praised the deal but said its success would be measured by how well it is implemented.

Peter Tarfa, former climate change director at Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Environment, agreed, saying, “This is not the first time that decisions have been taken in climate change discussions ... that they have not been fully implemented. It is actually in the best interest of the climate that all hands should be on deck."

Others are not so pleased with the deal. Members of the OPEC oil-producing countries, including Nigeria, initially resisted calls by more than 100 nations for stronger measures, such as a complete “phase out” of fossil fuels.

Salisu Dahiru, director of Nigeria's National Council on Climate Change, attended a plenary session in Dubai on Wednesday.

"There's no fairness, justice, equity” in asking developing countries to “start ditching fossil fuels,” Dahiru said.

“These fossil fuels are necessary for developing countries to taste the goodness of development,” he said. “What we've always stood for is decarbonizing the oil and gas so that we get cleaner fuels.”

Critics argue that decarbonizing technology is expensive and a diversionary tactic by countries so that they can continue to produce fossil fuels.

Oil accounts for 95% of Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings. Tarfa said authorities must begin to look elsewhere to grow Nigeria's economy.

"There's a lot of investment now going on toward the green economy pathway,” he said. “For Nigeria, we cannot act in isolation. … The phaseout or phase down of fuel consumption will definitely impact the economy, but now the time has come for the government to start diversifying to other sources."

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, writing a column for CNN published Wednesday, said that Nigeria had initiated programs to transition from fossil fuels but that the country needs $10 billion every year until 2060 to achieve its transition plan.

Tinubu also criticized developed nations for failing to honor a pledge to give $100 billion to poorer countries to mitigate the effects of climate change.

By Timothy Obiezu, VOA

Related stories: Environment minister says Nigeria needs to 'be ready' for oil decline

President Tinubu says Nigeria needs quick US funding for energy transition

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