Nigeria and other five countries of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, yesterday deliberated on the need for the sub-region to adopt 50ppm as standard for achieving low sulphur fuels by 2020.
The participants at the sub-regional workshop on ‘Promotion of Low Sulphur Fuels in West African Sub-Region’ held in Abuja, observed that Nigeria still imports high sulphur fuel, advising that it should rather stop bringing in low quality fuel and plan on building refineries to check air quality in the country.
In his goodwill address, officer-in-charge, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, regional office, Dr. Chuma Ezedinma said one of the causes of climate change was high concentration of sulphur in the atmosphere, noting that fuel combustion was one of the heaviest sources.
Ezedinma said, “The issue of standards is increasingly becoming unavoidable in Africa, not only for the protection of our environment but also for economic reasons like exports.”
He recalled that in December last year, at a meeting held at the ECOWAS headquarters which had UNIDO, World Bank, and members of ECOWAS states discussed the need for the region to adopt a common permissible standard for sulphur content in fuels.
The UNIDO officer said that working together as a sub-region gives collective strength to the actualisation of this common goal, adding that it had potential to foster further cooperation, share resources and capacities.
He reaffirmed UNIDO’s commitment towards promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development without compromising the environment.
Ezedinma assured that UNIDO would continue to work closely and make available its capacity and capabilities to governments in the ECOWAS sub-region to achieve their individual and collective mandates.
Speaking also, programme management officer, United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, Jane Akome said that UNEP had been partnering with countries in Africa on the adoption of cleaner fuels and vehicle standards as a means to improving air quality since 2002.
Akome said that high sulphur fuel was a leading cause of small particulate (impact on health and soot (black carbon) – second most important climate pollutant.
According to her, heavy duty vehicles, trucks and buses are leading causes of these two pollutants; “and low sulphur fuels will contribute significantly to reducing emission from these vehicles.”
Oando representative, Mr. Jacob Echem said that low quality fuels importing in the country had adverse impact on public health, adding that Nigeria was expected stopped importing high sulphur fuels.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed said that the sub-regional workshop was important because it would help to galvanise partnership, coordination and the coherence that need in their voices to make this turn into reality.
Mohammed also added that the workshop was an opportunity to bring this to the fore, and that they are setting a target for 2020.