While investments in fossils are being sustained in wealthier countries, 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. Therefore, a just, equitable, and inclusive global energy transition especially for developing economies is an imperative.
Those were the views expressed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, in his keynote speech today at the 7th Annual New York-based Columbia University Global Energy Summit organised by the Columbia Centre on Global Energy Policy. This year’s edition which held virtually, focused on shaping current energy system, what is ahead for energy policy, energy markets, geopolitics, technology, and efforts to reduce emissions while addressing climate change. According to Prof Osinbajo, “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.
“Clearly the Continent will require an unprecedented scale of investments. 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.” The VP submitted “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. He then added with concern “that globally, we are seeing wealthier nations and institutions banning all public investments in fossil, including natural gas. Examples include the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom (UK) and Denmark to name a few, as well as specific institutions such as the Swedfund from Sweden, CDC from the UK, the European Investment Bank, and the Investment Fund for Developing Countries from Denmark.”
In a clear advocacy for a fairer approach, the VP said, “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.” Speaking on the Nigerian context, Prof Osinbajo noted that “it means building sustainability into our economic planning, and so we have developed an Economic Sustainability Plan, which includes our flagship “Solar Power Naija” programme aiming to electrify 5 million households and 25 million people by 2023 leveraging solar mini-grids and stand-alone systems. We believe in the potential of off-grid renewables to close the energy deficit in Nigeria and across Africa.”
“But we also look to developed countries, the private sector, and development agencies to recognise the potential that a just and clean energy transition can bring to the development of our continent and other developing regions. “We hope to work jointly towards common goals including the market and environmental opportunity presented by the financing of clean energy assets in growing energy markets,” the Vice President explained.