Osinbajo Urges EU, UK, Others to Reconsider Ban on Fossil Investments

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By Deji Elumoye

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on the European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK) and Denmark, as well as institutions such as the Swedfund from Sweden, CDC from the UK, the European Investment Bank, and the Investment Fund for Developing Countries from Denmark, to reconsider ban on fossil investments.

According to him, investments in fossils are being sustained in wealthier countries, hence banning gas investments in developing nations raises questions around equity, justice, and inclusion as the global community approaches the Net-zero emission target of 2050.

This is just as he said an energy mix compatible with a 1.5°C pathway would require $40 billion to flow into Sub-Saharan Africa annually; a fourfold increase compared to the $10 billion invested in 2018.

Osinbajo stated these in his keynote address yesterday at the 7th Annual New York-based Columbia University Global Energy Summit organised by the Columbia Centre on Global Energy Policy.

According to him, ‘’the global energy transition must be inclusive, equitable and just, taking into account the different realities of various economies and accommodating various pathways to net-zero by 2050. Nigeria and countries across Africa are committed to a net-zero future, especially given their vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change, and all have expressed commitment to their national development contributions under the Paris Agreement, however greater support in developing and implementing robust energy transition plans is needed.

‘’That a just energy transition for developing economies is central to the right to sustainable development and poverty eradication as enshrined in relevant global treaties including the Paris Agreement. An inclusive and equitable transition will also take into account the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and leaving no one behind, that are enshrined into global treaties around sustainable development and climate action.’’

Emphasising the need for equity, Osinbajo said limiting the development of gas projects, poses dire challenges for African nations, while making an insignificant dent in global emissions.

He said, ‘’What is often not sufficiently considered in thinking through the transition to net-zero emissions is the critical role that energy, in our case, gas plays in catalysing economic development and supporting people’s health and livelihoods, especially in poorer countries. Natural gas is currently used for industry, fertilizer manufacturing, and cooking – which are more difficult to transition than power generation.’’

On her part, the CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, said the funding of projects that would guarantee cleaner energy sources will be critical to the attainment of net-zero by 2050.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, Prof. Jason Bordoff said the annual gathering of energy experts is part of the contributions by the Centre in addressing pressing energy issues and expressed delight in having the Vice President share perspectives at the 2021 summit.