Activists: We will win against fossil fuels

African activists have promised resistance at home to oil-and-gas touting leaders

By Agatha Ngotho

Members of GreenFaith, a multi-faith climate justice organization, demonstrate at the Action Area in Sharm El Sheikh, where the COP27 has been going on for almost two weeks

Climate activists from across sub-Saharan Africa have accused African leaders of using COP 27 to undermine the goals of the Paris Agreement, by pushing for more fossil fuel deals at the expense of people and the continent. 

Barbra Kangwana, Safe Lamu and Climate activist from Kenya said the government proposed a coal plant at Lamu, a UNESCO world heritage site, in the name of boosting the national electricity supply back in 2019.

“Trying to fathom the damage that would have happened to the small coastal town left us restless. The locals were given the false hope of getting jobs at the plant. The glaring truth is, you cannot claim to feed a population you are killing slowly,” said Kangwana.

“We raised our voices, lobbied, signed petitions, went to court, and eventually the people won. This is a clear case of failing systems, and when systems fail, the people rise,” he said.

Patience Nabukalu, Stop EACOP and Fridays for Future activist from Uganda said the East African crude oil pipeline, a French-Chinese project is a clear example of colonial exploitation in Africa and across the global south.

“With 1444km running from Uganda to Tanzania – it would become the longest heated oil pipeline in the world, releasing 34 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, substantially adding to the climate breakdown,” she noted.

Nabukalu said EACOP is not going to develop the country. This is because peoples’ land was taken, leaving many homeless and poor. Critical ecosystems and biodiversity were left at risk of oil spills such as Lake Victoria, rivers, national parks, animals and birds, as well as aquatic life.

“We remain hopeful and vigilant as banks and insurers like Standard Bank, Deutsche Bank and Lloyds have withdrawn their support for EACOP. We will continue to resist until everyone involved abandons it completely. We resist for our people and their land and heritage,” she said.

The activists spoke on the sidelines of the COP-27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt as the summit neared closure.  They vowed to resist any further fossil fuel expansion on the continent.

Mbong Akiy, Head of Communication for Greenpeace Africa said the fossil fuel industry has degraded people, lands, oceans and air.

“Enough is enough. No matter how many deals they sign, no matter how many bribes they pay, or how fancy the suits they wear: we shall wait for them in our communities, we will wait for them on the frontlines,” said Akiy.

“We will not stop until we see a complete transition to clean, renewable energy that is guaranteed to take millions of Africans out of energy poverty. Our lands will not be a playground for greedy polluters who seek to make billions at our expense. In South Africa we have won against big oil, we sent Shell packing, and we will send them all packing again,” he added.

Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe, campaign lead at Powershift Africa noted that the new dash for gas is an elaborate excuse fueled by a dangerous capitalist-utopian dream that seeks to justify the continued use of fossil fuels in Africa.

“Fossil gas production does absolutely nothing in addressing the continent’s climate emergency and if adopted will stop Africa from leapfrogging towards a renewable and clean energy future. We pledge to continue pushing for The Africa We Want beyond COP27,” said Bhebhe.

On his part, Kentebe Ebiaridor, Environmental Rights Campaigner and Niger Delta Activist observed that fossi gas must be left in the ground and climate funding should be used for public good through community owned and controlled, decentralised energy.

He added that they have seen the devastation that oil has caused to those residing in the Niger Delta which have seen them go to court leading to them triumphing with reparations.

“The fossil fuel industry needs to understand that these communities will not stop. For every destruction they cause, they will pay,” said Kentebe.

“We expect concrete and urgent climate action from COP27. For our well-being and the well-being of our planet, we demand the Congolese government end the sacrifice of our forests and peatlands for drilling oil,” added Bonaventure Bondo, DRC Coordinator Youth Movement for the Protection of the environment.

This article has been published with support from MESHA/IDRC grant for the coverage of COP 27.

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