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Nigeria will move against plan to defund gas project, says Osinbajo

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[FILE]Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja….


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has declared that Nigeria would continue its frontline advocacy for a just transition, maintaining that funding for gas and fossil fuel projects in Nigeria and other developing countries would be sustained during the global transition to net-zero emissions.

He also asserted that Nigeria would play a critical role with other gas exporting nations to stop the defunding of gas and fossil fuel projects in developing countries.

This was the highlight of a virtual meeting on the subject presided over by Osinbajo last Thursday, with top Federal Government officials in attendance.

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They include the ministers of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar; Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of State, Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor; Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Bitrus Bako Nabasu.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had declared in March that the country’s Decade of Gas “was a bold statement to demonstrate the administration’s resolve that gas development and utilisation should be a national priority.”

The Vice President had, at different fora, raised the issue of financing gas projects in developing countries, especially Nigeria, advocating for a just transition and more effective engagements since the campaign for the Net-Zero Emission by 2050 resumed.

In March this year, at a meeting with a delegation from the European Union (EU) led by its Executive Vice President, Mr. Valdis Dombrovskis, Osinbajo reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the global green energy initiative, but called for a just transition to zero emission.

At another meeting held earlier in February with the British Member of Parliament and COP26 President-Designate, Mr. Alok Sharma, 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.

At the UN Dialogue on Food Systems, also in February, the Vice President stressed the need for the international community to consider as an option, the use of gas and other more environmentally friendly fuel sources, as against what he termed “defunding gas projects” on the basis of gas not being environmentally friendly enough.

Speaking at the meeting, the Vice President noted that it was vital that the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries (GEC) join forces together to prevent the defunding of gas and fossil fuel projects, especially from developing countries, by international bodies and institutions.

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According to him, concrete steps should be taken by the GEC Forum to stop further plans by international bodies and Western countries on defunding of gas/fossil fuel projects, as it does not benefit developing countries especially.

He noted that it was vital that Nigeria plays a significant role in achieving a consensus with the GEC Forum on these issues, even as the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) – which is scheduled to hold later this year – approaches.

In the same vein, the Vice President asked the Inter-ministerial committee on Climate Change, led by the Federal Ministry of Environment, to fine-tune Nigeria’s position for COP26, while the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources focuses on strengthening the country’s strategy, particularly in its initiative to use gas as a transition fuel.

Both the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Minister of Foreign Affairs were directed to work together, ensuring the GEC Forum reaches a consensus that reflects Nigeria’s advocacy on defunding of gas projects.

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