Gas flaring in Nigeria: A multi-level governance and policy coherence analysis

Godwin Aigbe, Lindsay Stringer, Matthew Cotton

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The unnecessary flaring of natural gas impacts public and environmental health, contributes to climate change and wastes fuel resources. Though reducing flaring is an emergent global environmental governance priority, progress has been slow. We assess gas flaring policy in the critical case of Nigeria through multi-level governance (MLG) structure. Our analysis assesses policy coherence (leading to progress in reaching shared goals) and divergence (creating tension and undermining progress) amongst sectors and institutional structures across the supranational, federal, state and local government scales. A combined dataset of documents, stakeholder interviews and expert surveys is analysed using Qualitative Document Analysis (QDA) and content analysis. We identify the principal actors involved, examine the extent of gas flaring awareness and policy coherence across multiple sectors/policy domains, and assess progress towards Nigeria’s national intended contribution and national policy on climate change mitigation. We find that policy coherence around gas flaring, including efforts towards climate change mitigation, has been slowed by political partisanship, poor governance, lack of regulatory compliance, and policy conflict between environmental protection and economic development priorities. Nigeria urgently requires inclusive involvement of stakeholder voices across multiple sectors and scales of local/regional government, the strengthening of federal institutions, a revaluation of economic aspirations through revenue diversification, and leadership that can temper the power of International Oil Companies (IOCs) to exploit the complexity of the MLG structure. These actions would help the government in improving environmental justice outcomes for flaring-affected communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-47
JournalAnthropocene Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2023


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