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Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

In May 2021, Nigeria submitted an interim update NDC report reiterating the targets put forward in 2017, but notes the government has not yet approved the ambition level in mitigation. The interim report also significantly revises historical and BAU emissions.

Considering these revisions, Nigeria’s NDC targets GHG emission level of 214 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 (excl. LULUCF) translating to 33% below 2015 levels by 2030 (excl. LULUCF).19

Nigeria’s conditional NDC target is just above the lower bound of the 1.5°C compatible range requiring 13-35% emissions reductions below 2015 levels by 2030 (or 210-281 MtCO₂e/yr) excluding LULUCF. Nigeria’s conditional NDC target may be well in line with 1.5°C compatible pathways; however, this is highly contingent on the role of LULUCF emissions in meeting the target.

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

Long term pathway

By mid-century, GHG emissions in Nigeria should be almost cut in half, by 42% below 2015 levels excl. LULUCF. CO₂ emissions excl. LULUCF should be reduced substantially to 76% below 2015 levels by 2050.18

Remaining emissions from the agriculture and waste sectors will need to be balanced with negative CO₂ emissions through the deployment of carbon dioxide removals approaches.

While Nigeria does not have a net zero target as of April 2021, the government is developing a long-term strategy for 2050.12 Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo expressed support for a net zero economy, though emphasized the importance of natural gas in the transition.13,14 Continued investment in natural gas may lock Nigeria into higher emissions and increases the risk of stranded assets.

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).


Nigeriaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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
2030 emissions levels
Current policy projections
NDC (conditional)
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 2015

Energy system transformation

Although Nigeria relies on a high amount of renewable energy (around 77% of its total primary energy consumption), close to 99% of the renewable energy share in 2017 comes from traditional biomass (the burning of charcoal and firewood) mostly used for cooking. While the country will need to keep up its share of renewables, there will need to be a shift away from biomass to other conventional renewables such as solar, wind and hydro. Reducing biomass as a source of energy will steer emissions reductions in the LULUCF sector, by reducing deforestation.

1.5°C compatible pathways show a slow increase in renewable energy out to 2050 when the energy system could either secure most of its energy from renewables or rely on the use of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) with a lower penetration of renewables.20 Since deployment of BECCS may be limited by sustainable availability of land, setting in place policy frameworks to increase the share of renewables would be the safest option. For Nigeria, this also requires an increase in the electrification rate of end-use sectors through increasing electricity access to reduce the use of traditional biomass and back-up generators.


Nigeriaʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
201920302040205010 00015 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
201920302040205010 00015 000
Low Energy Demand
201920302040205010 00015 000
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
201920302040205010 00015 000
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS

Nigeriaʼs total CO₂ emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂/yr

  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Historical emissions

1.5°C compatible emissions benchmarks

Key emissions benchmarks of Paris compatible Pathways for Nigeria. The 1.5°C compatible range is based on the Paris Agreement compatible pathways from the IPCC SR1.5 filtered with sustainability criteria. The median (50th percentile) to 5th percentile and middle of the range are provided here. Relative reductions are provided based on the reference year.

Reference year
Reference year
Year of net zero GHG
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
177 to 261
146 to 212
115 to 196
Relative to reference year in %
−44 to −17%
−53 to −32%
−63 to −38%
Total CO₂
75 to 105
22 to 73
−2 to 52
2049 to 2070
Relative to reference year in %
−20 to 11%
−76 to −23%
−103 to −45%