Climate change litigation and corporate accountability in Nigeria : the pathway to climate justice?
AbstractOil and gas is the linchpin of the Nigerian economy. However, oil exploration and exploitation processes of petroleum products, particularly in the Niger Delta, have generated unpleasant social and environmental challenges ranging from oil spill, gas flaring and discharge of waste and effluents which have wreaked havoc on the health of the Niger Delta people and the ecosystems upon which they depend. This thesis is particularly concerned with gas flaring: the burning of associated natural gas found with oil deposits. Nigeria is currently ranked as the world’s fifth-largest gas flaring country in the world. This wasteful practice of burning non-renewable energy results in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which cause extreme climatic changes. Climate change is said to be the current greatest environmental and social threat to sustainable development. Although no region of the world will be entirely spared, scientific research has shown that there are uneven effects of these challenges and vulnerabilities to these challenges across world territories. Some continents, more than others, are vulnerable to the catastrophic effects of climate change. For instance, it is feared that African countries like Nigeria might experience the most severe impacts of climate change compared to other continents in the world and they are the least prepared to handle these impacts as a result of poverty and low technological development. Litigation has been heralded as a promising, effective, and alternative path to encourage climate change mitigation and victim compensation. This thesis analyzes the core assumptions that guide current scholarly enthusiasm for the capacity of climate change litigation to reduce environmental harm based on the experiences in the United States of America and Australia and contrasts that with the unique contextual factors that have impeded the overarching success of climate change litigation in Nigeria. The current state of climate change litigation in Nigeria reveals the lack of political will to enforce the court’s judgment because of the economic importance of the Oil and Gas Industry, lack of judicial independence, the lack of gas conservation infrastructure and the Joint Venture arrangement between the state and the Transnational oil companies.
Law, Peter A. Allard School of