Mr. John Kerry, the United States’ Special Envoy on Climate Change and a member of the country’s security council, assured Nigeria yesterday of the country’s technical assistance in its efforts to decarbonize its energy sources.
Kerry, a former US Secretary of State, said during a visit to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, in Abuja that the two countries agreed to collaborate closely in the deployment of gas as a transition effort as part of the move toward clean and renewable energy.
In addition, the United States announced yesterday that it would commit $200 million to assist Nigeria and other countries in transitioning to clean energy sources more quickly. In Abuja, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change announced this during a separate courtesy visit to the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi.
Furthermore, while briefing the press on the outcome of the meeting with Sylva, Kerry, a former US lawmaker, noted that the country was interested in Nigeria’s methane abatement and decarbonisation programme, promising that the initiative would be supported by his country’s Department of State, Energy.
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Kerry stated that it would be completely irresponsible for the United States not to acknowledge the reality of the climate change challenge, stressing that 80 per cent of all the emissions in the world come from just 20 countries.
At the same time, he admitted that 48 sub-Saharan African states were responsible for just 0.5 per cent of all emissions, but said no country embarked on the industrial revolution with the intention of polluting the world.
“Mother nature, whose life has been greatly disturbed by the act of human beings, doesn’t measure whether the emissions are Chinese emissions or US emissions or Europe emissions. It’s the conglomerate of all the emissions.
“And the challenge of the climate crisis comes from the emissions that come the choices we make, about how we power our vehicles, our homes, light our homes, heat our homes, and how we have energy that cooks and provides for our lives. That’s just the reality,” he added.
Stressing that Nigeria was one of the countries in Africa that would suffer the most from the consequences of the climate crisis, he explained that although he was not in the country to tell Nigeria that it was emitting too much, Nigeria needed to know that its policies would have a profound impact on the global effort to solve the problem.
Quoting scientists, Kerry stated that to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis, the world has to reduce its emissions by a minimum of 45 per cent or up to 50 per cent.
“What we don’t want to have happen is that Nigeria and other countries make a decision that they’re going to build out a capacity infrastructure that is going to undo what we’re trying to do and set us back,” the US envoy stated.
“I don’t know if you know this, but literally one half of the gas Nigeria vented, or flared, or leaked was 10 billion cubic metres of methane. That’s according to the recent World Bank report. And according to the global methane pledge energy pathway, that is equivalent to over half of Nigeria’s total gas consumption which was vented, flared or leaked.
“That’s money lost to Nigeria and if you capture that, you can sell it at a place like Europe, they have a high need for that now. So there’s a great benefit to Nigeria to be involved in the methane pledge and to move forward,” Kerry stated.
“We are convinced that there are significant abilities to have greater amounts of clean energy deployment in terms of solar and geothermal which cannot only provide you with clean fuel and it’s cheaper, it’s less expensive.
“So we’re not going to solve every problem here today. But I think we have set up a structure with a working group that’s already been announced previously, but we want that working group to kick into higher gear.
“We want to figure out exactly how we could be helpful to each other as we go forward. What Nigeria decides to do because of its amount of gas will have a profound impact on what other countries decide. We want to be certain to try to do everything we can to avoid the worst consequences of this crisis,” he noted.
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Stressing that President Joe Biden had put $12 billion on the table as part of that programme, in order to help countries to reduce the obvious impacts of the climate crisis, he added that the rapidity of the melting of the ice sheets, the rising sea level, the increased heat on the planet was not what should be joked with.
“15 million people die every year from the quality of the air that comes from pollution, which is greenhouse gases. 5 million people a year die from just the extreme heat and that’s getting worse. So our urgency cannot be stated strongly enough,” he said.
In his comments, Sylva said both countries agreed on the need to work together on global gas emission reduction, stating that a team has been set up to work out the details.
He insisted that the “lesser evil” was to provide energy to Nigerians by utilising gas, explaining that at this moment, Nigeria is not the biggest contributor to global carbon emissions.
“In fact, I will just tell you that in the scenario, that 48 countries in Africa contribute just 0.5 per cent of carbon emissions. And if we double our power production and consumption in this country, at this moment using gas, we will only be increasing carbon emissions by another 0.5 per cent.
“That means we’re only responsible for contributing about 1 per cent of global carbon emissions. We are not denying the fact that climate change is real. We accept the problem of climate change.
“And we will also like to say that on the energy transition, we have certain realities that the world must take into account. Our reality is that we have this number of people without access to electricity, but we don’t have the funding and the technology to be able to achieve this transition,” he added.
Also, Kerry said the United States would commit $200 million to help Nigeria and other countries transit faster to clean energy sources.
He said this known during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Environment.
He said the support, captured under the US Clean Energy Demand Initiative, would help countries to implement the buying and production of green products.
Kerry signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the minister on the initiative, saying the programme would also help to address the climate crisis and create jobs for Nigerians.
“The initiative is also to accelerate the marketplace creation so that it will help the transition programme faster and help to achieve a clean energy economy as well as dealing with the climate crisis.
“We have $200 million at the moment committed to startups in the process of safety for the programme. But we know that ultimately this transition is going to take billions of dollars and even trillions of private investments.
“We talked today about the ways in which we can be helpful to bring a major amount of capital to the table with technology to help Nigeria move faster to the clean energy economy. That is the future and all of the citizens of Nigeria will benefit from cleaner air.”
“You are a producer of fossil fuel you have enormous gas reserves. But you also have great respect for the land and great concern about how to proceed forward. And so I would like to explore with you and listen to you to think through how we can work together as you implement your own climate change,” he added.
Reacting, the Minister, thanked the US government for considering Nigeria as one of the countries to participate in the Clean Energy Demand Initiative.
He assured that the ministry was committed to working with the US government for the effective implementation of environmental programmes and to achieve net zero in Nigeria.