Published 6 October 2023
Addressing the challenges of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria necessitates the need to employ strategic climate change litigation to compel state authorities to perform their duties on climate change mitigation. The developing countries in Africa, which include Nigeria, are adversely impacted by climate change. These impacts include the rise in temperature, sea level rise, increase in diseases, and loss of means of subsistence. These are the consequences of climate change and African countries are therefore becoming more vulnerable. It also raises human rights concerns such as threats to the right to life, health and environment among others. Climate change litigation can offer an avenue for state authorities to address the threats posed by climate change due to activities in the oil and gas sector. The sector, therefore, accounts for activities that contribute to the release of GHGs into the atmosphere, thereby resulting in climate change. The exploration, production and consumption of oil and gas should be kept within the limits of the ecological carrying capacity of the environment. Nigeria has committed to mitigating climate change through its Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. The Climate Change Act (CCA) 2021 and the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 further create obligations relevant to the regulation of GHGs by state entities and the private sector. This article investigates the extent to which climate change litigation can be well positioned in Nigeria, relying on international law, constitutional rights law, CCA 2021 and PIA 2021. The analysis in the article will be drawn from the perspectives of Nigeria and other countries to examine how climate change litigation for regulation of GHGs can be strategically conceived and effectively employed in Nigeria. It found that climate change litigation is gradually gaining momentum in Nigeria. The CCA 2021 and PIA 2021 have created new entities that can be held accountable for the duty to regulate GHGs in the oil and gas sector. Further obligations in the laws also create avenues to litigate against both public and private entities operating in the Nigerian oil and gas sector. The article proposes that climate change litigation should emerge in Nigeria as a tool that can be strategically placed to continue to give directions for the development of policies or legislative measures that provide mechanisms for controlling the release of GHGs from oil and gas operations.
This paper will be part of the OGEL Special Issue on "Climate Litigation and the Energy Sector". More information here www.ogel.org/news.asp?key=750