• Now that we have National Clean Cooking Policy

    Now that we have national clean cooking policy - nigeria newspapers online
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    Now that we have National Clean Cooking Policy

    Greg Odogwu

    Now that the Federal Executive Council has finally approved the long-awaited National Clean Cooking Policy, which was launched a fortnight ago in Abuja, there is no longer any excuse for us to drop the ball. We must push our nation towards ending cooking energy poverty as well as promoting public health and environmental sustainability. The policy seeks to expand access to clean cooking energy solutions to all households and institutions in Nigeria by 2030.

    The goal of universal access by 2030 will assist Nigeria in improving health, creating jobs, building livelihoods, protecting the environment, and helping families, institutions and businesses save time and money through the promotion of clean cooking solutions. Consistent with the Energy Transition Plan, the goal of the NCCP will lay the foundation for the achievement of the Federal Government’s long-term vision of a carbon-neutral clean cooking future by 2060.

    For the avoidance of doubt, when we talk about clean cooking, we refer to people using cleaner fuels and energy-efficient modern stoves. Modern and clean cooking fuels are fuels with very low levels of polluting emissions when burned. Examples include biogas (a renewable fuel produced from organic matter, such as food or animal waste), liquefied petroleum gas (aka cooking gas), electricity, ethanol, natural gas, solar power and pellets used in specialised biomass stoves (from animal dung, rice husks, etc).

    We cannot afford to allow this vision to go the way of other national plans that never saw the light of day because it is fundamental and tied to almost all parts of our national life. More so, it is in sync with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We are running out of time when it comes to achieving SDG7 – ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all – by 2030.

    But the sad reality of present-day Nigeria is that the removal of subsidies on petrol and power pushes us further from the realisation of this goal. For instance, one kilogramme of liquefied petroleum gas (aka cooking gas) sells for about N1,200 against N280 which was sold a couple of years ago. So, many households that were previously using cooking gas, have now returned to the use of wood and charcoal. The impact on our society can only be imagined; more trees are now cut down, and our ecosystem is exposed to the vagaries of climate change. Again, the cooking energy transition becomes a mirage.

    Another way to look at it is that having the biggest population in Africa, Nigeria should be at the front seat in addressing clean cooking access. Global experts note that countries like China, India and Indonesia have made commendable strides in disseminating clean cooking technologies. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, there is a rising number of people without access to cleaner stoves and fuels, largely because population growth is outpacing gains in access. They affirm that this could hinder broader development efforts, therefore making it imperative to elevate clean cooking as a policy priority.

    Now we have a policy, with some proposed measures designed to achieve the goals. The question is whether the government shall find the spirit to maintain the tempo. Will it be able to increase LPG supply to five million tonnes per annum by 2030? What specific incentive will it inject into the market to stimulate an ecosystem that enables the injection of 10 million cylinders into Nigerian homes and institutions by 2030? What structural and administrative adjustments will the Federal  Government adopt to promote the development of biogas to reach at least three per cent of Nigerian homes and institutions by 2030?

    My take is that this should not be an isolated policy. It should encompass all the developmental institutions of the government, and the citizens should be deliberately taught about it. Truth be told, clean cooking has never enjoyed far-reaching governmental attention. In fact, one is at a loss whether it is because of its nomenclature, but it is actually surprising that people do not seem to make the connection between it and climate change. Hence, the drudgery and drag that typified the process before the policy became a reality.

    Secondly, considering that the prevailing removal of subsidies on petrol and electricity has negatively impacted the energy sector, there are a couple of high-level decisions to be taken for this new policy to have an instant impact on the national polity. Ewah Eleri, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cooking, thinks that to meet the goals of the policy and Nigeria’s energy transition plan, the government and other stakeholders need to protect the local market, and then institute a targeted subsidy system to cushion the economic stress on poor households.

    He explained, “First, LPG produced in Nigeria must be priced in naira. This will shield the poor against the vagaries of the fluctuating exchange rate. Secondly, the government must honour its policy by placing a domestic obligation on all companies that produce LPG in Nigeria. We cannot be exporting cooking gas when the local market does not have an adequate supply. Thirdly, when these fundamentals are put right, the Federal Government and developing partners need to develop smart and targeted subsidies, as done in India, where the poorest households will receive cooking gas vouchers. This will save lives, reduce the financial burden on poor households, and help the Federal Government meet its climate change obligations.”

    Thirdly, having observed the market realities in our clime, I am convinced that carbon finance is a critical low-hanging fruit we can immediately take advantage of – I stated the same in this column last week. It is just as well that in the new policy, there is mention of the carbon market. The Federal Government affirms that it will facilitate access to international carbon markets for the purchase of Certified Emission Reductions from biogas production and energy-efficient technology deployments. This is the way to go for a developing economy like ours. But the question is, how long shall we wait before we arrive?

    Christopher Obi, CEO, Nenu Engineering, a clean cookstove manufacturer, told me, “There’s just one thing limiting the industry (in Nigeria), that even most carbon project developers are sceptical. Nigeria’s position on Article 6 (global carbon market regulation paradigm based on the Paris Climate Accord) is not so clear. That’s why people don’t want to come with investment because if they bring their money and tomorrow Nigeria comes up with its position, they might be losing money. So that’s why I make the point that if Nigeria could come up with a clear position of what their stand is on article 6, then it gives the investors the opportunity to decide to invest.

    “The government is already doing something but they have to take a stand fast. Ghana is light years ahead of Nigeria, and Kenya is the same thing. Soon there will be a clean cooking forum in France, and it’s in partnership with the Tanzanian government and the International Energy Agency. So, even Tanzania has taken a strong stand on clean cooking. This is the kind of posture that the international community wants to see from Nigeria. When you have a government taking a clear stand on clean cooking, and putting out this posture, you have project developers trooping into the country. You have international development partners and even financiers coming in. That’s all that we need. We don’t need government to babysit us; we just want them to take the stand. Once that posture is there, every other thing follows.”

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