Stop fossil fuel projects, African civil society groups demand

“There must be a halt to all new coal, oil, or gas exploration and extraction activities in Africa in line with the imperatives of the energy transition”, delegates representing more than 30 civil society organisations from across Africa urged this month.

“We specifically demand the stoppage of oil exploration and expansion plans in the Virunga basin of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Keta region of Ghana, the Okavango Delta of Botswana, the Orange River Basin in Namibia, and a halt on all plans for the West African Gas Pipeline Project, the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project, and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project, among others.”

Delegates to Oilwatch Africa’s “Stop Gassing the Continent” conference this month

The delegates gathered in Accra, Ghana, for a conference entitled “Stop Gassing the Continent”, organised by Oilwatch Africa on 8-12 August.

The communique adopted by the gathering also called on African governments to “leverage the hosting of COP27 this year [in Egypt] to demand far-reaching measures on climate adaptation and finance, including emissions cut at the source.

“African governments should demand from polluting industrialised countries an annual climate debt of $2 trillion being the amount they currently spend on military hardware and warfare annually. This will pay for loss and damage and serve as partial reparations for historical harms.”

African states must “develop Africa-centred and just energy transition plans where such do not exist and, where they do, mainstream such plans into broader national development plans in ways that take cognizance of Africa’s huge renewable potential”.

The trend for multinational oil and gas companies, to sell stakes in onshore oil and gas assets and invest in offshore fields was highlighted. The companies were accused of abdicating responsibility for historical damage caused by their activities.

The conference demanded “that oil and gas multinationals currently planning to divest, and escape responsibility for their historical damage to African communities – such as Shell and Exxon Mobil in Nigeria’s Niger Delta – should restore the environment, and compensate communities for ecocide committed in their territories, before their exit”.

Oilwatch reports that, in the discussion, key observations made by delegates included:

□ The argument that Africa deserves to utilise its natural resources for energy sufficiency and development belies the fact that extraction of natural resources has historically been export-driven, for the benefit of the consumption needs of the global north, and scarcely targets the needs of the continent. The rhetoric by African leaders that fossil fuels could be utilised by the continent as a “less harmful” transition fuel is a delusion, as gas contributes massively to climate change through its methane content.

□ That the financing and development of pipeline projects such as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, the West African Gas Pipeline Project WAGP, and the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline, constitute an aggression against the land rights of communities, and portend massive disruptions of people’s livelihoods, conflicts, human rights abuses, and environmental degradation.

□ That the Paris Agreement and its 1.5 degrees Celsius target, as driven by the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), is a huge betrayal for Africa as the continent warms at about 50% above the global average, meaning that Africa is condemned literally to burn, in the best of scenarios. 24 August 2022.

□ Read the full conference report by Oilwatch Africa here.

□ Read also: Europe’s imperial plunder of African gas, masquerading as climate action

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