Day of action against pipeline project after Tanzania greenlights construction

Land clearing for fossil fuel production as part of EACOP project
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Tanzania’s government gave its approval on 21 February for the construction of a $3.5bn crude oil pipeline, part of a controversial mega-project that has raised concerns over human rights and the environment.

Today, 22 February, a global day of action against the project is taking place. Campaigners from and the #StopEACOP movement warn that the project is a “carbon bomb”.

This phrase refers to large-scale projects that fossil fuel giants continue to pursue despite the world already being in the grips of a climate emergency.

An environmental disaster

The 900-mile pipeline will transport crude from vast oilfields being developed in Lake Albert in northwestern Uganda to a Tanzanian port on the Indian Ocean.

The pipeline required approval from both countries, and last month Uganda issued a license to the project operator, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

As a 2022 report concerning the vast amount of fossil fuel projects underway or planned for Africa explained, the project’s environmental costs goes beyond its role in perpetuating the burning of fossil fuels. The report highlighted that:

Nearly 2,000 square kilometres of protected wildlife habitats will be negatively impacted by the EACOP project.

Read on...

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More specifically, it warned:

In all, some 500 km2 of wildlife corridors for Eastern Chimpanzees and African Elephants are likely to be severely degraded, and the homes of lions, buffalo, elands, lesser kudu, impalas, hippos, giraffes, zebras, roan antelopes, sitatungas, sables, aardvarks, the red colobus monkey, and sea turtles will be affected.

Day of action against EACOP

Naturally, EACOP Tanzania general manager Wendy Brown welcomed the decision. At a function to receive the approval certificate, Brown said:

This construction approval marks another step forward to EACOP as it allows commencement of the main construction activities in Tanzania, upon completion of the ongoing land access process.

EACOP is being jointly developed by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and France’s TotalEnergies, along with the state-owned Uganda National Oil Company.

The $10bn oilfields and pipeline project has run into strong opposition from rights campaigners and environmental groups. They say it not only threatens the region’s fragile ecosystem, including wetlands recognised as internationally important, but the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people too.

In opposition to the project, activists across the world will target protests at financial institutions linked to the project on 22 February. These are Standard Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), which are financial advisors. Standard Chartered is also considering financing the project.

EACOP falls foul of international standards

Many banks and insurers have decided against providing any support for the project. Meanwhile, a 2022 report by Banktrack and other NGOs indicated that the project falls foul of international environmental and human rights standards for financial institutions.

Campaigners are calling for the financial institutions that continue to engage with EACOP – or entertain doing so – to withdraw from it. They have planned action in no less than 10 countries on 22 February, where they will ask these banks “which side are you on?”.

Featured image via France 24 English / YouTube

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