Cop: African producers open to fossil fuel phase down

  • Market: Crude oil, Electricity, Emissions, Natural gas
  • 12/12/23

Sub-Saharan African oil and gas producers will vehemently oppose the inclusion a phase-out of all fossil fuels in the final Cop 28 text, but would be prepared to back a 'phase-down' language so long as their national circumstances are taken into account.

Nigeria's environment minister Isiaq Adekunle Salako told Argus that the country, which was one of 130 nations to back a pledge to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030, is prepared to back a just and orderly phase down in production and use of fossil fuels that he felt was "inevitable."

"Nigeria has identified gas as its fuel of choice for the transition. So as we develop our renewables, we will also reduce our use of fossil fuels," he said. "So a phase-down, taking into consideration our local circumstances ꟷ yes, that is acceptable," he added. "But a phase out ꟷ absolutely not."

Nigeria — Opec's largest African oil producer — cannot not support a text calling for the phase-out of fossil fuel production or consumption as it would be tantamount to economic suicide, he said.

"The science has established that if you stop breathing, without life support, you will die. And asking Nigeria to phase out fossil fuel, or asking Africa to phase out fossil fuel, is asking us to stop breathing without life support," Salako said. "This is not acceptable."

Nigeria's economy is heavily reliant on hydrocarbons, with revenues from oil and gas exports representing just shy of 43pc of the country's total export revenue last year, according to the IMF.

The country is also pursuing a plan to boost its crude output to 2.6mn b/d by 2027, compared with an average 1.43mn b/d in September-November, and gas output to 98.9bn m³/yr over the same period, more than double the 40.4bn m³/yr produced in 2022.

Differentiated pathways

Uganda's energy minister, Ruth Nankabirwa backed Salako saying that her country, which is due to start oil production from its first project in 2025, would also only support a phase down of fossil fuels.

"We would accept a phasing down [of fossil fuels in the text], but not a phasing out," Nankabirwa told Argus. But even the phase down would need to take into account country's national circumstances, she said.

"We are only just starting [our production of] fossil fuels," she said. "But those who have been polluting, those who have been enjoying that space, must first indicate their roadmap for phasing out. Countries like Uganda must also do the same, but on a different path, a different timeline," she said.

The Cop 28 draft refers broadly to the Paris Agreement's "principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances". But the fossil fuel text currently does not have a different timeline for developed and developing countries to reduce production and use, which some developing countries, including in Africa and Latin America, have pushed for. Spain's climate minister Teresa Ribera, representing the EU, suggested earlier in the summit that there could be room to capture countries' differences circumstances on fossil fuels in the text, saying that "big emitters need to make a great effort".

Touching on the issue of transition financing for developing countries ꟷ financial support from developed nations for investments in alternative energies ꟷ Nankabirwa said that progress remains limited at best.

"We are still at the same point. We're not seeing adequate financing, and we are not seeing predictable financing," Nankabirwa said. That is why we are emphasizing this point here, at Cop 28, so that it's captured," she added.


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