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Rising cooking gas price: What this means for Nigeria’s climate goals

Cooking gas - cleanbuild

Rising cooking gas price: What this means for Nigeria’s climate goals

That Nigerians are outraged at the astronomical increase in the amount of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), also known as cooking gas is no exaggeration. In the space of a year, the price of 12.5kg of cooking gas rose from N3,800 in October 2020 to N7,500 in October 2021.

Depending on locations, the current price of cooking gas, as of this writing, is around N650 per kg and this is even expected to soar higher as December approaches.

Ironically, Nigeria has more natural gas than it knows what to do with it. A few months ago, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) announced that gas deposits in Nigeria have moved 206.53 trillion cubic feet. If this is the case, one can only wonder why citizens have to pay through the nose to access what is abundant.

To hear the Federal Government tell it, the importation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for local consumption is one of the factors responsible for the increase in the price of cooking gas.

Currently, Nigeria imports about 60 percent of its local consumption needs of LPG; and until there is more domestic production to significantly reduce the cost of local consumption, the price will only keep getting higher.

In a bid to drive its clean cooking agenda, the Nigerian government set a target to double LPG demand to 1.5mn t in 2020 and reach 5mn t/yr by 2030, under its LPG expansion and implementation program. It goes without saying that the current state of things does not bode well for this plan.

The hike in cooking gas price has been attributed to other factors such as the devaluation of Naira against the dollar as well as the introduction of 7.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on imported LPG.

Speaking on the VAT issue, LPG expansion program manager, Dayo Adeshina, disclosed that the like other imports, LPG is expected to pay some duties. He said that LPG was first made exempt from VAT years ago when there was no domestic supply at all from refineries. “The government agency responsible for adding VAT was addressing what was seen as an anomaly,” he added.

As local production of cooking gas stands at 40%, the government has deemed it fit to re-introduce VAT which has further driven the price of gas. It gets worse to the point that many Nigerians are beginning to go back to kerosene stoves, firewood, and charcoal which, in the light of the climate crisis, is taking Nigeria further away from its climate goals.

Consumers’ reaction to the surge

Climateaction,africa spoke with a few respondents about the hike in the price of LPG. One source said that in her household, cooking gas is used sparingly. When asked why, she explained that in her family of eleven, cooking with gas is not sustainable due to financial constraints; hence, the family uses firewood for all major cooking.

A resident of Itire, Lagos, said, “Last month, I almost went into shock when the gas attendant told me the price of gas had risen to N7,000. Before I traveled, I bought it at N4,000 around December. I wish we had more stable electricity, it would have been easier to switch to an electric stove.”

John Udoh, who is based in Oke Afa, Ogun State lamented, “At this point, it just doesn’t make any sense for me to keep using gas when other alternatives like charcoal are less costly.

How much do I even earn that I have to spend almost half of my salary on gas? Already, the cost of rice, beans, and other food items is increasing day by day. Right now, buying gas at an exorbitant rate is the least of my worries.”

Pollution rising

According to the International Energy Agency’s new Energy Progress Report, close to 3 billion people have no access to clean cooking solutions, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Of the top 20 countries with the greatest number of people lacking access to clean fuel and technologies for cooking, 10 are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unsurprisingly, Nigeria made the top of the list.

The country is now more vulnerable to carbon pollution as many Nigerians are resorting to dirty fuels (kerosene, wood, coal) which emit dangerous levels of household air pollution, including fine particulate matter and carbon monoxide, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and pneumonia, among other non-communicable diseases.

We need not be surprised that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has attributed millions of premature deaths per year to polluting cooking.

Clean cooking and Nigeria’s 2025 net-zero ambition

The Nigerian government has stated its intention to pursue net-zero emissions by 2050 as part of its Energy Transition Plan.

While Nigeria is lauded for its submission of updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in readiness for the forthcoming COP26, our policymakers have failed to address the growing concerns of citizens who just want access to affordable energy to enable them to survive.

Access to clean energy is central to Nigeria’s climate goals. In a clime where cooking gas has become an absurdly expensive commodity, how can Nigeria achieve a net-zero emission if its people are resorting to dirty fuels for their cooking? Even worse, deforestation continues to undermine efforts to mitigate climate change as people chop down trees to make firewoods.

Granted, the government may have set some plans in motion to address the rising cost of cooking gas, but it means nothing if citizens do not see results that can only be understood through a drastic drop in price.

The government needs to double down its effort to increase the local production of gas. In view of Nigeria’s ambitious goal to reach net-zero emission by 2050, the VAT imposed on gas importation merits a closer evaluation.

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