Leading Emission Reduction Challenges: (a) Dependence on fossil fuels as energy sources; (b) Absence of climate change policies and programs; (c) Changing peoples’ behavior
Current Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels
The World Resources Institute estimates that Nigeria’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 (its latest record for the country) exceeded 296 MtCO2e (excluding land use). The figure exceeds 474 MtCO2e when land use is included (CAIT Climate Data Explorer, 2015). The data available for the period 2000 – 2012 show an upward trend in emissions with drops in levels for 2007 through 2009, compared to 2006 values (280 MtCO2e without land use and 463 MtCO2e with land use). However, the emissions in 2011 and 2012 were each 16 points (excluding land use) and 11 points (including land use) higher than 2006 levels.
Emission Reduction Challenges
Key barriers to Nigeria’s reducing its greenhouse gas emissions are dependence on fossil fuels for energy and foreign exchange as well as significant levels of gas flaring during petroleum exploration and production. Many Nigerians, because of limited electricity supply from the national grid, provide their own electricity for business and personal use by means of privately owned fossil fuel powered generators (Punch, 2016; Oyedepo, 2012). According to the World Trade Organisation (2015) in its report on international trade, fuels constituted 79.3% of Nigeria’s exports in 2014. The Oil & Gas sector accounted for 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 (Nigerian Export-Import Bank, 2015).
Nigeria, in its Paris Agreement Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) noted that to meet its conditional and unconditional targets, the country would have to end gas flaring by 2030, reduce dependence on fossil fuel powered generators while enabling access to energy for all Nigerians, and establish significant (13Giga Watts) off-grid solar electricity as well as be given technical support to improve energy efficiency. The estimated national cost is more than US$100 billion (ICF International, 2016). To achieve the set goals, both present and successive governments at all levels will have to implement (and where necessary improve on) the national and other policies that formed the basis of the INDCs.
Abubakar Alkali, a practicing environmental management professional in Nigeria, in his comments on the issue pointed out that Nigeria did not participate in the signing of the Paris Agreement let alone meeting a pledge (Alkali, 2016). He believes this was because Nigeria did not recognize the Agreement to be important; some Nigerians perceive the Agreement to be retrogressive and would undermine the country’s development efforts.
Nigeria’s inability to sign the agreement, Mr. Alkali remarks, means that the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would increase as no efforts will be made to make reductions. He suggests an urgent constitution of a national think-tank in this area and strengthening of relevant national institutions to introduce and implement policies, plans and programs aimed at reducing GHG emissions.
Olu Andah, another practicing environmental management professional in Nigeria, identified the following barriers to Nigeria’s minimizing its greenhouse gas emissions: traditional bush burning in preparing land for farming; absence of environmental education on climate change in the rural areas with particular reference to use of wood as major source of energy for domestic purposes; inadequate provision in environmental laws on the control of industrial air pollution; inadequate institutional structure and poor capacity on climate change in Federal and State Ministries of Environment; and discordant national policy on climate change. (Andah, 2016).
These issues Mr. Andah notes translate to absence of reliable data on quantities and major sources of greenhouse gasses. Also, the situation prevents regulatory agencies from meaningfully tackling the problems; for example, selecting the best technological and natural methods to reduce emissions. To overcome the challenges, Nigeria needs a coordinated and implementable policy on climate change; the policy must be such that responsible MDAs can produce implementable and enforceable greenhouse gas emission control regulations. Lastly, educational awareness programs should not be concentrated in city centers only but taken down to the rural areas.