The enforcement of the ban on the importation of dirty fuel with high sulphur content from Europe to Nigeria will begin from July 1, 2017, the Federal Government has said.
The government also announced that beginning from December 31, 2016, it would suspend the exportation of rosewood from Nigeria to other countries in a bid to address the increasing level of deforestation across the nation.
The Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, stated this at an event organised by the ministry in Abuja on Friday to mark her one year in office.
On December 1, 2016, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire agreed to introduce strict standards to ensure cleaner, low sulphur diesel fuels and vehicle emission standards, effectively cutting off Europe’s West African market to export its dirty fuels.
Commenting on the issue, Mohammed stated that the Federal Government had decided that the sulphur in fuels imported into the country should be reduced from 3,000 parts per million to 50 parts per million, as this would result in major air quality benefits in Nigerian cities and would allow the country to set modern vehicle standards.
She said, “From July 1, 2017, we will commence the enforcement of the 50ppm sulphur in fuel. And the July deadline is on all fuels, your diesel, petrol and kerosene. Everybody knows that this is going to take some efforts, which is why we gave the six months’ notice. What is more important is that we are working with the refineries on a long-term approach.
“Some of the new refineries that are coming into position in Nigeria are coming in at 10ppm; South Africa is 15ppm. But for us, it is a West African problem and we hope that we can lead in West Africa by reducing it. So, there is no reason why we can’t do that.”
On deforestation and the suspension of rosewood export, the minister stated that over a million trees were being cut down per day in the country without any alternative in terms of afforestation.
According to her, the suspension on exports of rosewood would last for three months, beginning from December 31, 2016.
Mohammed said, “On the suspension of wood export as a result of deforestation, let me make it clear that first of all, it is a suspension on rosewood and any semi-processed rosewood that goes out. For it goes out in thousands of containers. So, what we are saying is that we do not see any alternative to replenishing what is going out hugely.
“It is not that this is the worst part of deforestation; the use of trees as fuel is one, the logging is another, which is illegal in most cases, but we must find alternatives. So, we say suspension because we intend to continue to see better performance when we want to deal with the export of semi-processed wood.
“This involves factories, young people, trade revenues and more. We don’t want to stop it in a way, but we don’t what to do it at the cost of taking down all our forest cover in this country. Which was why we had enough consultation before the date of December 31, 2016 was arrived at.”
Mohammed explained that the ministry had met with the National Assembly and other stakeholders on the need to effect the suspension, but noted that not all those consulted were happy with the decision.