Climate change remains a major challenge as increases in emissions of associated carbon dioxide (CO2) (a key greenhouse gas) are the main cause of global warming. Most future growth from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is expected to come from developing countries because of their rapid economic development and expansion of energy-intensive industries. Hence, one of the most viable technologies available to mitigate these GHG emissions from large scale fossil fuel usage is CO2 capture and storage (CCS). CCS can be referred to as an approach to mitigating climate change via the process of capturing CO2 emissions from large point sources such as power plants, compressing it into a dense fluid, transporting it (usually by pipeline) and storing it securely in geological formations, on land or under the seabed.

At the international level, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 1992 contains no explicit reference to the use of CCS, although the Kyoto Protocol 1997 refers to CCS research and use by Annex 1 Parties. Consequently, no special legal framework for CCS has been adopted at the international or European level, and reliance is still being placed on its recognition by the Kyoto Protocol to ensure a legal basis for it. Currently, Oslo has adopted the world’s first CCS waste to energy plant and is undertaking a five month test program to capture emissions from the municipality. This will provide a blueprint for action for other countries interested in developing technology for CCS.

Whilst the development of CCS in developing countries could play an important role in the mitigation of GHG emissions, it is hindered by its high costs, as well as by the lack of maturity of this technology and the limited regulatory experience accumulated in this field. With the exception of some Enhanced Hydrocarbon Recovery projects (EHR), CCS is unlikely to take place in developing countries without additional financial incentives. Notwithstanding, the provisions of Article 2, para 1, (a) (iv) (i) of the Kyoto Protocol gives hope to developing countries like Nigeria as it mandates Parties, in achieving its quantified emission reduction commitments, to elaborate policies and measures such as ‘[r]esearch on, and promotion, development and increased use of (…) carbon dioxide sequestration technologies.’ It remains to be seen if Nigeria will take up this mandate and adopt policies to guide the implementation of CCS technology in future, and thus, reduce its annual emissions of CO2.

REFERENCES

Mathias Hellrigel ‘National Implementation of Carbon Capture and Storage: The Case of Germany,’ available at http://cclr.lexxion.eu/article/CCLR/2008/4/66, accessed 16 February 2016.

Ben Messenger ‘World First Carbon Capture & Storage at Oslo Waste to Energy Plant,’ available at http://waste-management-world.com/a/video-world-first-carbon-capture-storage-at-oslo-waste-to-energy-plant, accessed 14 February 2016.

See Thomas M Kerr ‘Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage: Priorities for Development,’ available at http://www.lexxion.info/pdf/cclr/cclr_408_reading-sample.pdf, accessed 15 February 2016.

H de Connick et al ‘Acceptability of CO2 Capture and Storage – A Review of Legal, Regulatory, Economic and Social Aspects of CO2 Capture and Storage,’ available at http://www.ccs-communications.gr/reports/acceptability%20CCS.pdf, accessed 17 February 2016.

This note was contributed by Irekpitan Okukpon-Adesanya, Research Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Lagos. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.