Osinbajo Faulta Defunding of Fossil Fuel Projects by Europe

Peter Uzoho

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has knocked developed nations of the world, particularly the European countries, for their decision to force their financial institutions to stop funding of gas development projects, describing such decision as faulty.

Osinbajo also described as double standards, the return of European nations to coal fired power generation plants through 2023 and beyond, said that was in violation of the continent’s climate commitment.

The vice president made the assertions last night in Lagos, while delivering a keynote speech on “Nigeria’s Transition to Green Energy,” at the 60th anniversary of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS), a group under the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

He said most countries including Nigeria have agreed on the need to reduce global emissions to zero and Nigeria had even fixed its target by 2060.

Noting that Nigeria and Africa were major victims of the effects of climate change, the country had raised a few important issues to the wealthier brother-countries in the global north.

According to him, the first issue countries in the developing world were faced with two rather one crisis, listing climate change and extreme poverty as the two challenges confronting them.

Osinbajo said the cause and consequence of the two challenges was energy poverty, adding that the lack of access to electricity for millions was a cause of deepening poverty.

He added, “The third is that the defunding of gas projects in order to force gas rich countries like Nigeria to stop using gas and use renewables instead is faulty.

“These proposals to ban the funding of fossil fuel projects make no distinction between upstream oil and coal exploration; and gas power plants for grid balancing. Also no economy in the world has been known to use renewables, solely, to industrialise.

“Solar power simply does not have the base load capacity yet for industry. Fourthly, stopping the use of gas means that we cannot use LPG for clean cooking stoves to replace the use of kerosene, firewood and charcoal which are dirtier fuels that are widely used for cooking and other domestic purposes particularly in the rural areas.

“The use of firewood means deforestation, cutting down trees and of course desertification and then the loss of our carbon sinks.

“The fifth is the double standards that wealthier countries have adopted on this issue. Today in the wake of the energy crisis, many European nations have made recent announcements to increase or extend their use of coal fired power generation through 2023, and potentially beyond.

“This is in violation of their climate commitments, and analysis suggests that this will raise power sector emissions of the EU by four per cent – a significant amount, given the high base denominator of EU emissions.”

Pointing out that the sixth and most crucial point was that Nigeria  must take quick and informed actions in its national interest, he noted that the country must take the threat of no investments in fossil fuels including gas seriously.

He said many European and other global North countries were setting aggressive targets for use of electric vehicles and the banning of combustion engine vehicles, warning that soon, there may be only a few countries using combustion engines.

“It is also evident that while the Russia invasion of Ukrainian has shown the double standards in not allowing public funding for fossil fuel projects, the wealthier nations are still of the view that this is the correct policy and that even if public funding is to be allowed financing should not go beyond 2035.

“So far, our response has been the Energy Transition Plan. A comprehensive, data-driven and evidence-based plan, designed to deal with the twin crises of climate change and energy poverty,” Osinbajo added.

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