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Methane pollution and the Nigerian NDC

Nigeria Shows its commitment to cutting methane pollution

August 10, 2021 Work Area: Methane

Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa and one of the largest producers of oil and gas in the world, is setting the stage for deep reductions in methane pollution from the oil and gas sector.  Nigeria’s recent submission to the UNFCCC on its commitments to the Paris climate accords sets a specific goal of slashing methane emissions by 60% by 2031, showing that Nigeria is committed to leading the way in cutting methane pollution.

In recent decades, Nigeria has taken a global leadership role in implementing policies to tackle polluting emissions from the oil and gas sector. A member of the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) and endorser of the Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 Initiative led by the World Bank, Nigeria has dramatically cut natural gas flaring – by roughly 70% since 2000. This was a huge success – but there remains room for improvement: Nigeria still flared 7.2 billion cubic meters of gas in 2020, making it the 7th largest flarer in the world.

Nigeria has now turned its full attention to methane pollution. In 2019, Nigeria published its National Action Plan to reduce short-lived climate pollutants and joined the Global Methane Alliance, pledging to absolute methane reduction targets of at least 45% by 2025 and 60-75% by 2030. The inclusion of specific methane targets in Nigeria’s 2021 update of its Nationally Determined Contribution sets up a process to develop legally binding policies in Nigeria over the coming year. This 60% reduction is a conditional objective which means it is dependent on international support (this includes finance, technology transfer, and capacity building).

We hope to see signs of international support emerge at COP26 later this year.

Clean Air Task Force and Carbon Limits Nigeria, with the support of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, worked hand in hand with the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Department of Petroleum Resources, and other Nigerian stakeholders to analyze of the sources of Nigeria’s methane emissions and their potential for abatement. Employing CATF’s Country Methane Abatement Tool, Nigeria’s emissions were mapped out and we explored mitigation pathways.

This process yielded three key recommendations:

  1. Require operators to implement frequent Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) surveys at their facilities.
  2. Replace high methane emitting devices within a couple of years.
  3. Continue to reduce flaring and ensure that flares operate at very high efficiencies and in a continuous manner to prevent the release of methane.

The Global Methane Assessment, published in May this year, shows that human-caused methane emissions must be reduced by 45% this decade, and oil and gas methane needs to be cut by roughly 60%. This level of reduction would avoid nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045 and make it possible to meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5˚C.

Nigeria is stepping up to do its part.  While implementation will be a critical next step, Nigeria is showing the world the direction that we must go to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global climate change.

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