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The Future of Climate Change Litigation in Nigeria: COPW v NNPC in the Spotlight


Uzuazo Etemire


Africa is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. While some African states have contributed very little to the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions driving climate change, others are heavier polluters. Over many decades, Nigeria’s oil and gas industry and the gas flaring for which it is notorious, has significantly contributed to the global rise of GHGs. The country is already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change in term of increasing cases of droughts, sea-level rise, acid precipitation and floods, among others. Global climate litigation has foregrounded the potential contributions which a national court can make in regulating the human activities that fuel climate change and undermine mitigation and adaptation efforts. Against this backdrop, this paper will assess the current status of climate change litigation in Nigeria. The paper argues that climate change litigation in Nigeria is still in its infancy. However, it will critically assess the paradigm shifts evident in the decision of the Nigerian Supreme Court in the recent case of Centre for Oil Pollution Watch (COPW) v Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), arguing that this case potentially clears the way for future climate change litigation in Nigeria.

LLB (Benin), BL (Enugu), LLM (Nottingham), PhD (Strathclyde, Glasgow), FHEA (UK); Senior Lecturer & Ag. Head, Department of the Jurisprudence & International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Email: <> and <>.'I will like to immensely thank the editors and peer-reviewers for there useful comments and suggestions which helped to improve this paper.


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