We will win again: African activists promise resistance at home to oil-and-gas touting leaders

Climate activists from across sub-Saharan Africa gathered this morning in response to the dash for fossil fuels by African leaders at COP27. 

African leaders have used COP27 – “the African COP” – to undermine the goals of the Paris Agreement by pushing for more fossil fuel deals at the expense of people and the continent.  Beyond voicing collective demands on an agreement for a dedicated finance facility for Loss and Damage under the UNFCCC at COP27 and asking richer nations to deliver on their climate pledges for adaptation and mitigation, African delegations have used the conference to embrace the new scramble for oil and gas in the continent. 

International, pan-African and national civil society organisations and activists are dismayed at the threat of locking communities and economies in more oil and gas production for decades to come. African leaders’ actions fly in the face of warnings by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that existing fossil fuel infrastructure was already sufficient to breach the 1.5c limit and by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that no new oil and gas fields approved for development are compatible with the pathway to a 1.5c.

For any meaningful outcome to be achieved in Egypt, delegates must listen to the people of Africa – not the fossil fuel sector, and collectively commit to a phase out of all fossil fuels and reflect this commitment in the cover decision, as well as agree to the establishment of a Loss and Damage Finance Facility.

In advance of the official close of the climate negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh, African activists spoke put at a press conference pledging their concerted resistance to further fossil fuel expansion on the continent:

Barbra Kangwana, Safe Lamu and Climate activist from Kenya 

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

Patience Nabukalu, Stop EACOP and Fridays for Future activist from Uganda 

“EACOP, the East African crude oil pipeline 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.”

“EACOP is not going to develop our country: peoples’ land was taken, leaving many homeless and poor and critical ecosystems and biodiversity 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.”

Mbong Akiy, Head of Communication for Greenpeace Africa:

“The fossil fuel industry has degraded our people, our lands, our oceans and our 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. 

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”

Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe, campaign lead at Powershift Africa:
“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.”

Kentebe Ebiaridor, Environmental Rights Campaigner and Niger Delta Activist:

“Fossi gas must be left in the ground and climate funding should be used for public good through community owned and controlled, decentralised energy. We have seen the devastation that oil has caused to our people in the Niger Delta and we are glad that they are now winning in the courts to get reparations. The fossil fuel industry needs to understand that these communities will not stop. For every destruction they cause, they will pay.

Bonaventure Bondo, DRC Coordinator Youth Movement for the Protection of the environment 

“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”.