Climate justice activists from Fridays for Future in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, and Europe have urged European leaders to end pushing for fossil fuel projects on the African Continent.
In an online press conference held on Thursday, which was also the opening day of the EU – Africa Summit in Brussels, the activists called out the Summit host, French President Emmanuel Macron for supporting the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project (EACOP) in Uganda and Tanzania.
Other EU leaders were also called out for allowing money to flow into fossil fuel extraction without real climate action as they promised during the most recent annual UN climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow last year.
Speaking in the press conference, Ugandan climate activist and founder of the Rise Up Movement Vanessa Nakate said:
“A few months ago I had the opportunity to address world leaders at COP26. I told them we didn’t believe the promises they had made at the summit, but I begged them to prove us wrong. What have the EU and African countries done since COP26?,” Nakate asked.
“They are now labeling natural gas as a “green investment” and they are investing in a crude oil pipeline that will cut through East Africa, destroying local communities and adding to environmental destruction. Shamefully, Macron has himself approved of it despite his high rhetoric on climate,” Nakate stressed.
Also in attendance was Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, the founder of Fridays for Future Uganda who said the EACOP poses a risk to livelihoods and therefore needs to be stopped.
“The EACOP project poses grave risks to the world’s climate, people are already displaced, their incomes and livelihoods affected, unacceptable risks to water resources, biodiversity, and natural habitats. At a time where climate catastrophes are worsening, unlocking a new source of carbon emissions is unacceptable,” Nakabuye said.
She added, “Climate harm puts millions of lives at stake and is a mockery for the existence of generations to come.”
Patience Nabukalu, an activist with Fridays for Future Uganda, working on the protection of wetlands and global climate action said that the investment and project that they want to see from African and European leaders is just transition with 100% renewable energy for Africa and Europe.
“That is where the deals need to go, not more pipelines and fossil fuel extraction! Just as importantly, Europe needs to double the amount of money for adaptation it provides to the most vulnerable countries and lead the world to fulfill the broken promise of 100 Billion Dollars in Climate Finance,” Nabukalu said.
Evelyn Acham, a climate activist from Uganda and a national coordinator for Rise Up Movement Uganda and member of Fridays For Future MAPA said:
“Question to EU: Can you put an end to the EACOP, can you stop funding any new oil and gas projects in Africa and world, can you provide climate finance for loss and damage and for adaptation and mitigation? Think deeply about the EU-AU relationship. Think!”
Goodness Dickson (Nigeria), a trained Climate Reality leader, coordinator of the Rise Up Movement Nigeria and the founder of Eco Clean Active initiative, working to address environmental issues, climate change and waste pollution said:
“The continuous investment in the fossil fuel economy is an investment in the destruction of people and the planet. I am asking President Macron and EU leaders to do what they can to stop funding fossil fuels in Nigeria. It’s time to invest in renewable energy.”
Sumaiya Harunany (Kenya), a climate activist from Kenya who also runs the Blue Earth Organization, whose main aim is to tackle plastic pollution, regenerate areas that have been affected by pollution and infrastructure development, and combat the climate crisis through Nature-Based Solutions said on her part that extraction and exploitation have left people vulnerable.
“It’s time to put people before billions, it’s time to put humanity before billions, it’s time for equity, it’s time for Justice before billions,” Harunany said.
The EU-Africa summit is led by the French presidency and it is being attended by European and African heads of state in Brussels from 17-18 February 2022.
The activists pointed out that the summit is held at a crucial point in time, as construction of the longest heated oil pipeline in the world (the EACOP) begins in East Africa, and the energy crisis across Europe is accelerating.
While claims are made that the leaders will discuss the development of Africa, the climate activists said that there is no sustainable development without managing the phase-out of fossil fuels and dealing with climate impacts in Africa.
“Africa is responsible for less than 4% of global CO2 emissions, but its communities are presently experiencing some of the most brutal impacts of climate change – such as prolonged droughts which have dried up water sources and reduced food supplies, leaving people starving,” they noted.
“Europe is historically, and through its current actions continues to be, responsible for a huge amount of these impacts. Europe must stop fueling climate chaos in Africa, and African and European countries must work towards a true green and just transition,” Luisa Neubauer (Germany) Fridays For Future activist from Germany added.