Climate change ‘not a big issue for Nigeria’, says petrol resources minister

Climate change landscape of drought land/Getty Images

Nigeria’s junior minister for petroleum said on Thursday in Davos that climate change is not a “big issue” for Africa’s largest producer of oil.

Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT/BLOOMBERG

“Climate change is not really a big issue for us,” Timipre Sylva told Bloomberg’s Francine Lacqua at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Nigeria is one of, at least, 187 countries that ratified the Paris Agreement, a United Nations-backed framework on climate change.

A statement by the Nigerian Government on September 22, 2016, said the country was committed to cutting Green House Gas Emissions unconditionally by 20 percent and conditionally by 45 percent “in line with Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions.”

“We have instituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change to govern implementation of my country’s NDCs, thereby ensuring a strong cross-sectoral approach, coherence and synergy for Climate Action,” President Muhammadu Buhari, who is Nigeria’s substantial minister for petroleum, said in the statement released before a meeting on Taking Climate Action for Sustainable Development in New York, co-hosted by Nigeria and the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, on the sidelines of the 71st United Nations General Assembly.

Buhari doubled down on Nigeria’s commitment to fighting climate last September, telling world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit that the world was on the “verge of climate catastrophe.”

But when asked if the focus on sustainability and climate change will impact Nigeria’s relationship with oil companies, Sylva told Bloomberg TV that the country’s focus is not “renewables” but on switching to gas.

“We have always said that in Nigeria, it is not really a race against renewables.

“It is a race against carbon emission. And for us, we are really moving towards gas this year as our solution.”

Africa’s largest oil producer is notorious for gas flaring in its core oil-producing region. Statistics published government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in 2019 showed that 218.9 billion standard cubic feet of gas were flared in 2018.

The NNPC said that gas flaring cost the country about N243.23 billion in revenue in 2018 alone.