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What is Nigeriaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Last update: June 2021

Ambition gap

Nigeriaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
NDC (conditional)
NDC (unconditional)
Ambition gap
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions

*Net zero emissions excl LULUCF is achieved through deployment of BECCS; other novel CDR is not included in these pathways


In May 2021, Nigeria submitted to the UNFCCC an interim update NDC report that reiterates Nigeria’s conditional and unconditional targets presented in 2017, but states the government has not yet reviewed or approved the level of ambition for the mitigation component.1 The interim update provides a significantly revised 2030 BAU projection and historical emissions.

1 Federal Republic of Nigeria. Submission of an Interim Report of the Updated Nationally Determined Contribution. (2021).

2 Federal Ministry of Power. About this platform. Nigeria SE4ALL.

3 Energy Commission of Nigeria. National Energy Policy. (2018).

4 Akinola, R. Nigeria Moves to Develop Long-Term Low Emissions Plan to Curb Climate Change. Natural Eco Capital. (2020).

5 Federal Ministry of Environment. Third National Communication (TNC) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. (2020).

6 IEA. Africa Energy Outlook 2019. (2019).

7 IEA. World Energy Balances 2020. (2020).

8 Economic Sustainability Committee. Bouncing Back: Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan. (2020).

9 IRENA. Nigeria.

10 Central Bank of Nigeria. Half Year Economic Report, 2020. (2020).

11 Department of Climate Change. President Buhari Approves the Revised National Climate Change Policy for Nigeria. (2021).

12 Akinola, R. Nigeria Moves to Develop Long-Term Low Emissions Plan to Curb Climate Change. (2020).

13 The Premium Times. Osinbajo urges EU not to stop financing Nigeria’s gas projects. (2021).

14 Vanguard. Let’s engage more on transition to net zero emissions, Osinbajo tells visiting COP26 President-designate. (2021).

15 Ministry of Power. National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy. (2015)

16 See the Climate Action Tracker for assumptions.

17 See Climate Action Tracker, forthcoming analysis on Nigeria.

18 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches.

19 See Climate Action Tracker assessment on Nigeria.

20 In some of the analysed pathways, the power sector assumes already a certain amount of carbon dioxide removal technologies, in this case bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Nigeria’s NDC targets GHG emissions reductions of 45% below business as usual (BAU) by 2030 including LULUCF. Taking historical data revisions from the interim update into account, Nigeria’s conditional target translates to an emissions level excluding LULUCF of 214 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 or 33% below 2015 levels.16

Nigeria’s conditional NDC is well in line with a 1.5°C compatible domestic emissions range, requiring an emissions reduction of -13% to -35% below 2015 levels excl. LULUCF (or 210-281 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 excl. LULUCF). The level of uncertainties on LULUCF emissions might strongly influence the target compatibility with 1.5°C compatible pathways.

The implementation of Nigeria’s domestic emissions pathway will be made possible with and through international support to close the gap between its fair share level and domestic emissions level.17

Nigeria does not have a net zero target as of April 2021, but is in the process of developing a long-term strategy.4 1.5°C compatible pathways show GHG emissions reductions of 42% (33-54%) by 2050 below 2015 levels or 186 (147-215) MtCO₂e (excl. LULUCF) by 2050.18 While there is high uncertainty on the level of LULUCF emissions, strong efforts to reduce LULUCF emissions will be needed for the country to reach net zero GHG emissions and balance its remaining emissions with the land sector.

CO₂ emissions reductions will be enabled largely by the rapid decarbonisation of the power sector, which is also a catalyst for decarbonisation of other sectors. Reductions in the transport and industry sectors would be secondary priorities as they are significant contributors to Nigeria’s emissions.


Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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1.5°C aligned targets
Current targets

To be on a 1.5°C compatible pathway, the share of renewable energy in the power mix would need to ramp up from 23% in 2017 to at least 77% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

Nigeria’s current target for renewable energy generation in the power sector is 30% by 2030.2 Off-grid renewable energy solutions represent an opportunity to increase renewable-based electricity while expanding electricity access in rural areas, securing reliability of the grid and reducing transmission and distribution losses. In 2017, Nigeria implemented mini-grid regulations providing guidance for systems up to 1 MW and interconnected mini-grids.

Phasing out gas in the power sector between 2030 and 2040 would enable the required power sector transformation, to a carbon intensity between zero and 10 gCO₂/kWh by 2040. Coal does not currently contribute to the power mix and would not expand in a 1.5°C compatible pathway. Nigeria’s 2018 draft revised National Energy Policy includes plans to pursue coal-fired generation in the power sector.3 Considering the long lifetimes and decreasing competitiveness of coal and gas-power plants, delaying decarbonisation comes with significant risks to investors, of stranded assets, as well as risks to society of locking into high-cost, high-emission technologies.