CDM can’t deliver for Nigeria – Fidelis Allen

Arising from the problems of failure by gas recovery and utilisation CDMs in  the Niger Delta  to meet their sustainable development expectations through  electricity generation and supply and, failure to achieve appreciable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, is need for government to  consider, with more seriousness , massive development of renewable energy for   Nigerians.  This means decommissioning gas as long term source of energy for the entire nation, in favour of more sustainable renewables.   Research conducted recently by a group,  by the name, Environmental Justice Liability and Trade, (EJOLT) at the University  of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Civil Society, Howard College, Durban, has come up with findings that show that the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under  its popular Kyoto Protocol, is failing to bring expected benefits of sustainable development  to  Africa. Worse, it is unable to lead to reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.

In the case of Nigeria, where I investigated whether  oil companies’ gas recovery and utilisation CDMs are helping to achieve the goals of the projects within UNFCCC’s goal of cutting down GHG emissions while ensuring sustainable development with finance drawn from a process that  takes from the developed countries (Annex 1 countries) widely known to have been responsible for the climate crisis. The process involves issuance of credits to project owners resulting from certification of these with capacity for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.

Key findings of the group in the case of these projects in Nigeria include  facts :   rather than improve living conditions of the host communities- Kwale – in Delta State, conflicts, oil spiils and continued flaring of gas are among persistent problems,  that have long been associated with the oil industry. Several years on, not even expected improvement in access to electricity by the communities has been achieved several.  Clearly, hopes of stability in service delivery in electricity generation and distribution will continue to elude Nigeria if government policy does not change.  In spite of huge   money already committed to the sector by past and present administrations, majority of Nigerians continue to go without electricity. Worse, so called gas recovery and utilisation  CDM projects are being championed by  oil companies  whose owners have  simply seen the projects,  not only as additional sources of money, but a way  to continue  flaring  gas,   which by law has been illegal  since 1984 in Nigeria. In essence, CDM is not only rewarding illegality, it is legitimatising it, to the extent government facilitates their registration with UNFCCC to the detriment of the climate, environment and people of the region.

Although alternative renewable energy from solar panels and wind turbines remain very attractive for the majority of households in Nigeria, the government must show willingness to process and deliver to them.  Investors in the sector are waiting for the government to come up with appropriate policy that can support reductions in the cost of acquiring solar powered lighting and heating systems. This will not only reduce the present high demand for fossil fuel and threat to the climate, it will spell progress towards sustainable development in the nation.

Fidelis Allen, Ph.D
School of  Built Environment and Development Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Howard College Campus
Durban, South