Nigeria’s Government Failure to Follow Through on Important Climate Goals and Its Economic Dependence on Fossil Fuel Exports

Nigeria’s Government Failure to Follow Through on Important Climate Goals and Its Economic Dependence on Fossil Fuel Exports

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Nigeria Country Manager Peter Hansen

The Nigerian government has made some bold claims regarding reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. They have pledged “…to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2030, when compared to “business-as-usual” levels. This pledge rises to 45% on the condition of international support” (Carbon Brief) However, the biggest obstacle in reaching this goal is not international support, but the Nigerian government itself. This is not just stated to fall in line with the stereotype and rhetoric that the government is hindering the country from moving forward.

Time and time again, specifically for climate change policies, there have been bold statements and tweets followed by gross inaction. The climate goals the government set are certainly attainable, it is just whether the government will follow through with it. Muhammadu Buhari, the current president of Nigeria, was elected in 2015 on the notion that he would crack down on terrorism and corruption. However, no real gains have been made. In addition, Buhari has made claims regarding climate policy. In fact, in the Covid Economic Recovery plan published last year, the government promised to implement solar panels on five million homes across Nigeria. In theory, this would solve a lot of problems, but not even one solar panel has been put up as a part of the plan. The government’s inaction is the greatest obstacle the country has in achieving climate change goals.

Currently, Nigeria has made no commitment to any climate change goals past the year of 2030, including Climate Scorecard’s climate commitment goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. However, if Nigeria were to achieve a goal like this, an obstacle, apart from government incompetence, is the developing economy and its overdependence on fossil fuels. “The country’s economy is closely tied to oil and gas exports. Profits from petroleum exports currently account for 86% of Nigeria’s total export revenue” (Carbon Brief) Additionally, Oil and Gas collectively provide 70% of Nigeria’s revenue. Thus, as a developing economy, Nigeria relies heavily on the production of non-renewable resources. The economy needs all the support it can get so it is very unlikely that Nigeria will slow down any of its oil production. This will make it very hard for the country to become carbon neutral by 2050.

A competent government is essential to enact any sort of climate change policy that will have an impact down the line. However, Nigeria does not have a reliable government and it does not look like anything is going to change in the foreseeable future. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, policies need to be put in place, but those policies will never see the light of day with an incompetent government.

An economic over-dependency on oil products for a developing country is a significant obstacle. Nigeria, a country that has over two-thirds of total population below the poverty line, does not have the luxury to remove its biggest revenue. However, to become climate neutral by 2050, it needs to move away from an oil-dependent economy. This has created a difficult dilemma for the country, as if it were to stop producing oil products, then even more people will fall under the poverty line.

Frankly, there is not a lot that can be done to mitigate the biggest obstacle that is incompetent governance, especially from outside forces. The best way to improve the situation is from within, to have trust in the democracy, and hope citizens in the country elect individuals who can follow through with their promises.

Regarding over dependence on oil, there should not be the expectation to completely stop oil production for environmental reasons. That would wreak havoc and effect the most vulnerable people in the country. The government should slowly ween off its dependence on oil overtime. They should use the revenue they receive from oil products and invest it in sustainable energy. Thus, overtime, Nigeria can remove its over-reliance on oil and become carbon neutral by 2050.


Department of Climate Change in Nigeria can be reached using this link:




Climate Scorecard depends on support from people like you.

We are a team of researchers providing information on efforts to reduce global emissions. We help make you better informed and able to advocate for improved climate change efforts. Donations of any amount are welcome.