One of the biggest global environmental organizations launched a campaign on Tuesday to push the Nigerian government to effectively ban gas flaring.
Friends of the Earth's month-long campaign against Nigerian gas flaring kicked off on Monday and will see petitions delivered to political leaders, including President Umaru Yar'Adua. Nigeria is a leading oil producer in Africa but is also ranked as one of the top gas flaring countries in the world. Despite a December 31 self-imposed deadline to stop the dangerous practice, there is no indication that gas flaring has subsided at all.
According to FoE, gas flaring costs Nigeria US $2.5 billion annually, while more than two thirds of the population lives in poverty. The environmental and health costs of gas flaring include acid rain and the acidification of surrounding water supplies; the reduction in local farm yields because of crop damage; and an increase in the risk of premature death, respiratory illnesses, cancer and blindness.
Friends of the Earth's Nnimo Bassey says gas flaring has been technically illegal in Nigeria since 1984, but oil firms continue to burn gas.