Policies & action
The CAT estimates that Nigeria’s greenhouse gas emissions would reach 34-43% above 2010 levels excluding LULUCF in 2030 under current policies and including the impact of COVID-19.
Nigeria’s current policies are rated 1.5°C compatible when compared to its fair share contribution. The “1.5°C compatible” rating indicates that Nigeria’s climate policies and action are consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Nigeria’s climate policies and action do not require other countries to make comparably deeper reductions.
While Nigeria’s policies and action are consistent with a fair contribution to climate action, they do not put Nigeria on track to meet either of its targets. These policies are also inconsistent with the level of emissions cuts needed to limit warming to 1.5°C. Implementation of the ETP, reflected in our planned policies scenario, would put Nigeria on track to meets its unconditional target, but not its conditional target.
Nigeria will need to implement additional policies with its own resources to meet its unconditional target, but will also need international support to implement policies in line with full decarbonisation to meet and exceed its conditional target.
Key steps to reducing the gap between current policies and Nigeria’s NDC targets include progressing towards and ramping up its renewable energy target and halting the expansion of natural gas.
In February 2023, Nigeria elected a new president, Bola Tinubu. Climate change was not a prominent issue in the election; however, Tinubu has emphasised Nigeria’s need for climate finance from developed countries and, similar to the Buhari administration, has given mixed messages on energy priorities (Lo, 2023). While Tinubu has acknowledged the need to reduce reliance on the oil and gas sector and develop solar power, he has also expressed support for increased oil and gas production for domestic consumption and export to Europe.
Under the Buhari administration, several climate measures progressed; however, the government largely pursued fossil fuel-based strategies. Initially under the 2018 draft National Energy Policy, the government pushed for the development of coal resources to expand the power supply, but eventually shifted focus to fossil gas as coal projects were delayed and shelved.
Former Vice President Osinbajo has proposed debt for climate action swaps as one mechanism to mobilise more climate finance for developing countries (Anyaogu, 2022). This would allow developing countries to receive debt forgiveness from creditors and enable them to reallocate those resources to measures to achieve their NDC targets. This could go a long way towards mobilising resources for climate action, expanding energy access and reducing Nigeria’s debt burden. However, climate finance, including through debt swapping, should not be used to finance gas development: gas is a fossil fuel and needs to be phased out of the global energy system.
In November 2021, Nigeria passed the Climate Change Act that seeks to achieve low greenhouse gas emission, green and sustainable growth by providing the framework to set a target to reach net zero between 2050 and 2070 (Okereke & Onuigbo, 2021). For more analysis on the Climate Change Act, please see our net zero target analysis here.
Under the 2021 Climate Change Act, the government is required to develop a carbon tax and carbon trading. In February 2023, the Director General of the National Council on Climate Change announced plans to unveil a carbon tax policy (Gupte, 2023). The government has also directed the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority to develop a carbon market activation plan. In April 2023, the authority signed an agreement with Vitol S.A. to invest in carbon avoidance and offsetting projects, including household energy efficiency (Vitol, 2023).
In addition to the net zero provision in the Climate Change Act, former President Buhari also announced the government’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2060 (Lo, 2021). In August 2022, Nigeria released its Energy Transition Plan (ETP), which serves as a pathway towards achieving this target (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2022). The plan targets significant long-term action through sectoral targets; however, it relies heavily on action after 2030. The plan targets a significant expansion of gas in the 2020s, declared the “Decade of Gas” by the government.
In June 2021, the government approved a revised National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) and National Climate Change Programmes for Nigeria for the period 2021-2030 (Department of Climate Change, 2021).
The NCCP outlines mitigation and adaptation policy measures, enabling conditions and means of implementation necessary to achieve Nigeria’s climate objectives. While the NCCP is meant to be aligned with the updated NDC, it presents historical emissions more than double the historical emissions for the same year in the NDC. The NCCP further identifies AFOLU as the largest emissions source (66.6%), while the updated NDC indicates AFOLU is about a quarter of emissions.
Nigeria adopted the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) to stimulate the economy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (Economic Sustinability Committee, 2020). The ESP includes climate-related programmes, including the installation of five million solar homes and a national gas expansion programme to reduce reliance on oil. In the Middle East and Africa, unabated natural gas in power generation needs to effectively phase out by 2045 (Fyson et al., 2022).
In 2019, Nigeria adopted a National Action Plan on Short-lived Climate Pollutants, with 22 measures to reduce emissions, including reducing methane from fugitive emissions and leakages from oil production and processing and natural gas transportation and distribution (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2019).
In Glasgow, a number of sectoral initiatives were launched to accelerate climate action. At most, these initiatives may close the 2030 emissions gap by around 9% - or 2.2 GtCO2e, though assessing what is new and what is already covered by existing NDC targets is challenging.
For methane, signatories agreed to cut emissions in all sectors by 30% globally over the next decade. The coal exit initiative seeks to transition away from unabated coal power by the 2030s or 2040s and to cease building new coal plants. Signatories of the 100% EVs declaration agreed that 100% of new car and van sales in 2040 should be electric vehicles, 2035 for leading markets. On forests, leaders agreed “to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. The Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA) seeks to facilitate a managed phase out of oil and gas production.
NDCs should be updated to include these sectoral initiatives, if they aren’t already covered by existing NDC targets. As with all targets, implementation of the necessary policies and measures is critical to ensuring that these sectoral objectives are actually achieved.
|Signed?||Included in NDC?||Taking action to achieve?|
|Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance||No||N/A||N/A|
- Methane pledge: Nigeria signed the methane pledge at COP26. This is significant, given its high methane emissions in its oil and gas operations. Methane accounted for 51% of emissions excluding LULUCF in 2021; however, estimates of Nigeria’s methane emissions vary widely (Gütschow & Pflüger, 2022; IEA, 2023). While there is no direct mention of the pledge in Nigeria’s NDC, the 2021 update includes targets to reduce oil and gas fugitive methane emissions by 60% by 2031 and methane from organic solid waste by 10% (however, neither target specifies a base year) (Federal Government of Nigeria, 2021).
After COP26, Nigeria published its Energy Transition Plan which includes the target to eliminate gas flaring by 2030 and reduce fugitive emissions 95% by 2050 (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2022). A 30% reduction in methane below 2020 levels is equivalent to an almost 50 MtCO2e/yr reduction. The NDC update estimates that full implementation of the measures in the update would reduce methane emissions 28% by 2030 compared to a (non-specified) baseline scenario (Federal Government of Nigeria, 2021).
- Forestry: Nigeria signed the Leaders' declaration on forest and land use at COP26. Nigeria’s updated NDC includes several measures targeting the forest sector, including forest restoration and protection and reduced fuelwood harvest (Federal Government of Nigeria, 2021). More details on Nigeria’s policies and actions related to the forestry sector can be found below.
The energy sector is the largest source of emissions in Nigeria, responsible for more than 60% of the country’s total emissions (Federal Ministry of Environment, 2021b). Fugitive emissions from oil and gas are the largest source of energy related emissions, followed by transport, electricity generation, residential and industrial consumption.
In August 2022, Nigeria released its Energy Transition Plan (ETP), which serves as a pathway towards achieving the 2060 net zero target (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2022). The plan targets significant long-term action through sectoral targets, but relies heavily on action after 2030. The plan targets significant gas expansion in the 2020s, declared the “Decade of Gas” by the Buhari administration (Buhari, 2021). The ETP plans to use gas as a “transition fuel” with large increases in gas consumption in the power, cooking and industry sectors by 2030 before a near total phase-out by 2050 (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2022). This risks Nigeria investing in stranded assets and locking-in carbon-intensive infrastructure.
The government adopted its National Development Plan (NDP) for 2021-2025. The NDP includes strategies to expand gas and transmission and distribution infrastructure, promote renewables and increase commercialisation of upstream gas to reduce flaring (Federal Ministry of finance Budget and National Planning, 2021).
Oil & Gas
Nigeria, a member of OPEC, was the 16th largest oil producer in the world in 2022 (US EIA, 2023). Nigeria is also the 17th largest natural gas producer in the world and plans to increase current production threefold (IEA, 2021b; The Guardian, 2021). The country’s economy is highly dependent on its oil and gas sector, accounting for about 40% of government revenue in 2021 (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2021). Despite the recovery of oil prices, this share is down from about 56% of government revenue in 2019, largely due to low oil and gas production.
Crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism has surged in recent years, impacting oil and gas production (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2021). In 2021, crude oil production averaged 1.46 million barrels per day (mbpd) against the benchmark of 1.86 mbpd (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2021). In 2022, Nigeria LNG’s operations struggled to meet supply obligations with production down to 60 -68% utilisation in June, also largely due to theft and vandalism (Reuters, 2022). Deadly flooding from June to November 2022 further impacted production. After all of Nigeria LNG’s upstream suppliers declared force majeure, the joint venture company Nigeria LNG did the same (Nigeria LNG Limited, 2022a, 2022b).
These issues of theft and vandalism among other reasons such as militant activity have led international oil companies (IOCs) to divest from their assets in Nigeria, largely selling to domestic Nigerian firms (Stakeholder Democracy Network, 2021). Reports have indicated that divestments of IOCs to domestic companies have exacerbated pollution and increased flaring in the Delta (Chason, 2023). This raised concerns over how to hold IOCs accountable for the oil spills after they exit the region (Stakeholder Democracy Network, 2021).
While IOCs have been divesting in assets since the early 2010s, there has been a renewed surge of sales in recent years (Stakeholder Democracy Network, 2021). In 2021, Shell announced its intent to sell its stake in onshore oilfields; however, sales were paused due to a ruling by the Nigerian Supreme Court that requires the company to wait for the outcome of a lawsuit over a 2019 oil spill in the Delta (Bousso, 2022b, 2022a). Other IOCs such as Chevron and Total have assets for sale, with ExxonMobil also attempting to sell all shallow water assets in Nigeria (Egbejule, 2022; Stakeholder Democracy Network, 2021).
Despite supply challenges, European interest in importing natural gas from Africa surged amid the global energy crisis (Aljazeera, 2022). This has spurred renewed interest in export infrastructure projects even though new export infrastructure would not be operational in time to counter the short-term impacts of the crisis (Rahhou, 2022). A mild winter in 2022 also dampened the rush for Europe to secure additional gas imports. The conflict between Algeria and Morocco has also led both countries to push ahead with competing gas pipelines that would connect Nigeria to Europe: the Nigeria-Morocco pipeline and the Trans-Saharan pipeline that passes through Algeria (France 24, 2023).
This rise in the use of natural gas in Africa and globally is not aligned with the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Relying on natural gas runs the risk of investing in stranded assets as future gas demand is subject to large uncertainties. CAT analysis shows that shifting to renewables would not only put Nigeria on a 1.5°C compatible pathway, but would also create more jobs than its current gas-based strategy.
Nigeria’s COVID-19 stimulus plan, the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), includes a domestic gas utilisation programme aimed at reducing the country’s reliance on oil (Economic Sustainability Committee, 2020). This includes the promotion of compressed natural gas (CNG) for use in the transport sector.
In August 2021, President Buhari signed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law to improve transparency and accountability in the oil sector and ultimately attract more international investment in the sector (Esiedesa, 2021; Thomas, 2020). This comes after 20 years of attempts to pass the bill and has received criticism for possible environmental and social impacts (Ene, 2018; EnviroNews Nigeria, 2021a; Iroanusi, 2021; KPMG in Nigeria, 2021a). However, increased expansion of oil infrastructure and production increases the risk of costly stranded assets as countries and private sector actors divest from fossil fuels.
In 2023, Nigeria put forward new Methane Guidelines for the oil and gas sector to help reduce fugitive emissions. The guidelines mandate measures such as leak detection, repairs and high destruction efficiency flares. According to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition that provided support developing the guidelines, support will be needed to ensure implementation and enforcement (CCAC Secretariat, 2023).
Globally, unabated natural gas in power generation needs to peak before 2030 and be halved by 2040 below 2010 levels. Further, according to the IEA, no new oilfield development is needed if we are serious about the world reaching net zero emissions in 2050 (IEA, 2021a).
In 2000, Nigeria was flaring roughly 55% of the gas it was extracting. To reduce emissions from gas flaring, Nigeria set the goal of completely eliminating routine flaring by 2020, a decade ahead of the World Bank’s “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative. In 2018, Nigeria further adopted a gas flare commercialisation programme based on the “polluter pays” principle (Ogunleye, Banks, and Legarreta 2019). While Nigeria did not meet its 2020 target, it has made significant progress, now flaring 10% of extracted gas. The ETP targets zero flaring by 2030, as well as a 95% reduction of fugitive emissions from oil and gas by 2050 (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2022).
In the power sector, natural gas supplied about 76% of electricity generation in Nigeria in 2020 (IEA, 2022b). The remaining generation is supplied by hydropower and negligible shares of solar PV.
Nigeria’s electricity supply is one of the least reliable in Africa. It has the most frequent and prolonged power outages on the continent(IEA, 2019). These reliability issues contribute to Nigeria’s high reliance on expensive oil-fired back-up generators (IEA, 2019). Nigerians spend about USD 14bn per year on generators and fuel, producing an estimated 29 MtCO2e annually (Moss & Gleave, 2014; Olalekan, 2020). In 2019, Nigeria and Germany formed a partnership to upgrade Nigeria’s transmission and distribution infrastructure to secure 11,000 MW of reliable power supply by 2023 (The Premium Times, 2019).
The Energy Transition Plan (ETP) identifies the elimination of diesel and petrol generators as the key strategy for the power sector. In the long-term, the ETP aims to achieve this through an expansion of generation capacity, primarily from solar PV, by 2050. In the short-term, however, the ETP expects a ramp up in available gas capacity from 4 GW in 2020 to 14 GW by 2030. While the plan labels gas as a “transitionary fuel”, it still anticipates 10 GW of gas capacity in the energy mix by mid-century. The plan additionally targets universal electricity access by 2030, more ambitious than its previous target of 90% access by 2030 set in Nigeria’s Sustainable Energy for All Action Agenda (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2016). Nigeria has the largest population of people without access to electricity, at 92 million in 2020, about 45% of the population (World Bank et al., 2022).
In 2015, Nigeria adopted its National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP) (Ministry of Power, 2015). This policy set an ambitious target of over 23 GW of renewable capacity including large hydropower by 2030; however, Nigeria is not on track to meet this goal.
Nigeria’s renewable capacity, including large hydropower in 2022, was just over 2 GW, substantially less than the NREEEP’s interim 2020 target of over 8 GW (IRENA, 2023a). Nigeria’s SE4ALL Action Agenda adopted a year later includes more conservative targets, though Nigeria is not on track to meet those either (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2016).
Based on IRENA estimates, Nigeria has only installed 21 MW of renewable capacity as of 2022, mostly solar PV, since either plan was adopted (IRENA, 2023a). The ESP, Nigeria’s short-term economic plan following COVID-19, includes measures to install solar power in five million homes by 2023 (Economic Sustainability Committee, 2020). There is little information on progress towards this target. Initial funding was announced in 2021 and in March 2023, the Rural Electrification Agency was working to attract further investment (Akande, 2022; Shetty, 2023).
The ETP sets ambitious targets for renewables in the power sector, particularly solar PV (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2022). By 2050, the plan targets nearly 200 GW of solar PV, 11 GW of hydro, and 6 GW of biomass. The ETP estimates the power sector will require the highest level of investment, amounting to USD 270 billion in incremental investment from 2021 to 2060; however, it also expects fuel cost savings to offset USD 121bn of this cost.
The Energy Transition Plan (ETP) sets the target to achieve 100% EVs by 2060, but progress towards this goal is largely expected to happen after 2030 (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2022). The ETP targets increased biofuel blend rates of 10% by 2030 and 30% by 2036.
Nigeria’s COVID-19 stimulus plan, the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), includes a domestic gas utilisation programme aimed at reducing the country’s reliance on oil (Economic Sustainability Committee, 2020). This includes the promotion of compressed natural gas (CNG) for use in the transport sector. However, CNG is not mentioned in the ETP transport strategy.
Nigeria’s National Action Plan to Reduce Short-lived Pollutants includes measures to limit emissions from the transport sector (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2019). It aims to eliminate the use of high-emitting vehicles with a ban on vehicle imports more than 15 years old and increasingly stringent emission standards (Euro III by 2023, Euro IV by 2030). The plan also aims to renew the urban bus fleet in Lagos and adopt CNG buses across Nigeria, introduce low sulphur diesel and petrol, and promote a shift from road to rail and water transport.
In response to COVID-19, Nigeria also announced the removal of subsidies for premium motor spirit fuels, but this was not achieved (Official Gazette, 2020). Uncertainty and confusion over government pricing has induced fuel shortages, likely due to a price hike by depot owners in anticipation of higher prices as international oil prices rebound (Olawoyin, 2021). Nigeria had similarly announced the removal of subsidies in 2016 after a fall in oil prices, but returned to subsidising petrol in 2017 when crude prices rebounded.
Similar to previous administrations, the Tinubu administration announced the removal of petrol fuel subsidies, with fixed prices for different regions (Brnic & McColloch, 2023). Immediately following the announcement, fuel stations stopped selling in anticipation of higher prices resulting in gasoline shortages. The success of the subsidy removal will depend in part on how the government responds to increases in fuel costs and supports those most impacted by the rise in fuel prices.
There is significant uncertainty around land use and forestry emissions estimates in Nigeria. The country’s Third National Communication (TNC) estimates LULUCF contributes to roughly half of Nigeria’s emissions (over 300 MtCO2e in 2016), while the NDC update reports land use emissions together with agriculture as about one quarter of emissions (approximately 87 MtCO2e in 2018) (Federal Ministry of Environment, 2020, 2021b).
Traditional biomass is Nigeria’s largest source of primary energy. In 2016, almost three quarters of households used fuelwood for cooking (Federal Ministry of Environment, 2020). Nigeria’s National Gas Expansion Programme, part of the Economic Sustainability Plan in response to COVID-19, aims to convert over 30 million homes from traditional fuels such as wood and kerosene to liquified petroleum gas to reduce emissions (Economic Sustainability Committee, 2020). Nigeria’s TNC estimated CO2 emissions from biomass consumption for energy production were about 70% of agriculture, forestry and other land use emissions (42% of total emissions) (Federal Ministry of Environment, 2020). The use of traditional biomass for cooking is linked to indoor air pollution and associated health risks as well as gender labour inequities (Addo & Olajide, 2021; Uchenna & Oluwabunmi, 2020).
In 2020, a new National Forest Policy was approved by the Federal Executive Council that is expected to boost climate efforts in the country, but the policy is not available online. It was reported that at the time of adoption by the National Council on Environment, the policy included a target to increase forest cover from the current 6% to 25% by 2030 (Federal Ministry of the Environment, 2019).
From 2001 to 2016, Nigeria’s tree cover decreased by 9.4%, largely due to shifting agricultural lands (Global Forest Watch, 2021). In July 2021, Nigeria launched its National Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Strategy with the aim of reducing forest sector emissions by 20% by 2050 (Federal Ministry of Environment, 2021a; Olugbode, 2021). Pilot REDD+ activities have already progressed in Cross River State, home to half of Nigeria’s forests (FME & UNDP, 2019). Cross River State has developed its own REDD+ strategy and approach to safeguards and submitted its forest reference emission level to the UNFCCC.
Nigeria is a member state of the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative. The initiative, launched in 2007 by the African Union, aims to restore degraded land, sequester carbon and create green jobs across in the Sahel region. A key goal of Nigeria’s GGW programme is the establishment of a 1,359 km contiguous shelterbelt to serve as windbreaks from Kebbi State in the northwest to Borno State in the northeast (UNCCD, n.d.). From 2007 to 2020, the programme established 709 km of windbreaks and created 2,801 hectares of reforested land and 1,396 jobs (Climatekos gGmbH & UNCCD, 2020; UNCCD, 2023).