The effect of gas flaring on climate change: how culpable is Nigeria?

by Temitope Lawal
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Nigeria’s oil wealth has been exploited for more than 45 years. But while oil companies including Shell, ExxonMobil have benefitted from the resource, local communities in the oil rich but conflict-riven areas live with the daily pollution caused by non-stop gas flaring- where the gas associated with oil extraction is burnt off into the atmosphere. More gas is flared in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world- in Western Europe, 99% of associated gas is used or re-injected into the ground. But in Nigeria, despite regulations introduced more than 20 years ago to outlaw the practice, most associated gas is still flared, causing local pollution and contributing to climate change.

The aim of this project is to give a detailed analysis of the contributions of the practice of gas flaring, especially in Nigeria, to climate change. This would invariably lead to the examination of local legislations that have been enacted over the years to curb this menace- their effectiveness or otherwise. More importantly, the liability of Nigeria under various international instruments such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and more recently, its commitments at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Copenhagen, Denmark from the 7th-18th of December, 2009 shall be examined.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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