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Rich Nations Undermining Gas Projects In Africa – Osinbajo

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Rich Nations Undermining Gas Projects In Africa – Osinbajo
Rich Nations Undermining Gas Projects In Africa – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that much of the global investment in clean energy should go to Africa, but lamented that rich nations are undermining gas projects in the continent.

He noted however, that instead of prioritising efforts to redirect global capital to African nations, efforts are currently underway to limit the development of gas projects in Africa, thereby violating the principles of equity and justice enshrined in global agreements.

He made this submission while speaking during a virtual conference themed: “Climate, Conflict, and Demography in Africa” jointly hosted by the International Crisis Group, the Royal African Society, and African Confidential publications, yesterday.

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A statement by his media aide, Laolu Akande, recalled that the vice president had at different forums, raised the issue of financing of gas projects in developing countries, like Nigeria, advocating for a just transition and more effective engagements towards the target of net-zero emission by 2050.

At a meeting held earlier in February with the British member of parliament and COP26 president-designate, Mr Alok Sharma, Prof Osinbajo restated Nigeria’s support and commitment to the climate change agreement, but cited the planned restrictions on financing of gas projects in African countries as a potential setback.

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Also, in March this year, at a meeting with a delegation from the European Union (EU) led by its executive vice president, Mr Valdis Dombrovskis, the vice president reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the global green energy initiative but called for a just transition to zero-emission.

Speaking at the virtual event yesterday, Prof Osinbajo explained the necessity of gas in developing nations, “because the role of gas as a bridge fuel, to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix, and rapidly transition away from firewood-based cooking fuel to natural gas-based cooking, yields both environmental and benefits.”

The vice president emphasised that despite Africa’s contribution to climate change being negligible, “we continue to be the most adversely impacted by climate change, so much so that public resources that could help modernise the energy mix has to be redirected towards adaptation spending.”

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“But worse, we are being compelled to make disproportionately huge sacrifices as the wealthier countries continue full speed on defunding gas projects and insisting that gas projects must be defunded as an important component of the drive towards net-zero emissions by 2030,” he noted.

Regarding the amount of investments required in clean electricity – generation and grid storage infrastructure, Prof Osinbajo stated that to get the world on track for net-zero emissions by 2050, it will cost more than US$1.6 trillion per year by 2030. “This is over four times more than what was invested in these sectors in 2020. In regions like Africa, installed electricity capacity will need to double by 2030 and increase at least five-fold by 2050,” he said.

Giving reasons for his argument against defunding gas projects, Prof Osinbajo said, “Our first obligation will always be to ensure the wellbeing of our people, through access to development services including electricity, healthcare, education, safe jobs, and a safe environment, including access to clean cooking fuels.

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“We must prioritize solutions that align with development and climate agendas, this is absolutely important. The global climate conversation can only be equitable and inclusive by putting all people in all geographies at the heart of the endeavour to save the planet.”

In the same vein, the VP mentioned the need to “recognise and plan for growing energy demand; its increase will be critical for driving growth, jobs and economy-wide progress, and delivering healthcare and education services. Efforts are already underway in my country, Nigeria, and in several countries across the continent to transition to large shares of clean energy sources to do so.”

In attendance at the virtual event were the minister of environment of Ghana, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, who represented the president of Ghana; chairperson of the Royal African Society, Ms Arunma Oteh; Patrick Smith, publisher of African Confidential. The event was moderated by Bola Mosuro.

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