The unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine has had obvious ramifications to the country of Ukraine and its people. In addition to that, the conflict has also had significant ramifications on the rest of the world, and Nigeria is no different. Specifically, the conflict has and will have a major impact on climate policies and practices in Nigeria. The two major climate impacts on Nigeria stemming from the conflict are:
- The further delay/cancellation of the two nuclear power plants in Nigeria funded by Russia
- The world’s increase in dependence on Nigeria’s fossil fuels
Russia and Nigeria have been working together for decades in an attempt to build out two nuclear power plants in Nigeria. Actually, the Russian-Nigerian Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on National Atomic Energy was first established in 2009 with the goal of having completed nuclear energy plants by 2020. Obviously, they did not reach the initial 2020 goal as the construction is still very much in the preliminary phases. The plan is to build two new power plants, both of which are expected to cost $10 billion: the Geregu nuclear power plant (central Nigeria) and the Itu nuclear power plant (southern Nigeria). While they did not reach their 2020 goal, the two governments reconstituted the agreement on July 15, 2021. However, with the invasion of Ukraine, Russian economic focus has shifted. It is unclear when the projects will resume and if Russia will still be willing to cover the majority of the cost of the power plants. Additionally, while nothing has officially been said by the Nigerian government, Nigeria should have some reservations working with Putin that may further delay the construction. What is clear, however, is that the invasion of Ukraine has put a halt on these projects.
Due to the sanctions put in place on Russia by countries around the world, the pricing of fossil fuels has increased. Russia is the third largest producer of oil/gas in the world and now countries are looking for other producers to purchase from. This creates a tricky situation for the developing country of Nigeria. Clearly, they can make a lot of money from further focusing their efforts on fossil fuel production because global supply has decreased. However, this will only lead to more pollution and over reliance on fossil fuels in Nigeria. Nigeria has been working to become less reliant on fossil fuels and invest more in green energy. However, this conflict has made it even more convenient for Nigeria to continue to focus on fossil fuel production. It is imperative that the government does not fall into this trap. Additionally, it seems that EU countries “are going to be queueing up to fund the construction of the Nigeria-Niger-Algeria Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline” (Daily Maverick). This is because of the potential collapse of Russia’s Nord Strom One and Two projects, which feed gas to Europe. It seems that fossil fuels in Africa have become much more attractive to Europe overnight, which will make it significantly harder for Nigeria to reach its carbon goals as its focus will shift towards fossil fuel production and further away from green energy.
It will be very interesting to see in the coming months and years how Nigeria will respond to the climate impacts of the conflict. Nigeria needs decisive leadership that will ensure that they continue to transition to green energy. However, the amount of money that Nigeria can make from this might be too much turn down.
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This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Nigeria Country Manager Peter Hansen