The governments of Uganda and Tanzania together with French oil giant Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation are on the cusp of building a massive crude oil pipeline right through the heart of Africa–displacing communities, endangering wildlife and tipping the world closer to full blown climate catastrophe. Rising up in response, local communities, human rights defenders and environmental activists are doing all they can to resist the pipeline.
24 banks (or 50 financial institutions if you want to include insurers) have already ruled out the financing of the project. Now activists in Uganda and around the world are mounting pressure on key financial advisors Standard Bank, SMBC and Standard Chartered none of which have withdrawn from the project. TotalEnergies is the major oil company behind EACOP but is facing low levels of interest from lenders, which is why they need support from the aforementioned giant banking institutions.
In a bid to stop EACOP from damaging the environment and displacing local communities, activists are mobilizing online, on the street, and in front of banks’ offices backing EACOP all over the world to call them out and ask: “Which side are you on?” Noting how the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) would devastate communities in Uganda and Tanzania and bring the world closer to climate disaster because of its projected 34.4m metric tonnes of carbon emissions per year.
The activists are asking the banks why they are still financing the EACOP project when it so clearly disrespects all the Equator principles. Equator principles are intended to serve as a common baseline and risk management framework for financial institutions to identify, assess and manage environmental and social risks when financing projects. These 3 banks have signed the Equator’s Principles, a baseline framework that ensures financial lending brings a positive impact on the people and the environment, yet they continue to pledge to be part of EACOP financing.
As the whole world is waking up to the fact that we need to stop burning fossil fuels, we need to recognize that East Africa’s economic strength comes from the region’s biodiversity, heritage and natural landscapes. Investing in renewable energy, tourism, small-scale agriculture, fishing and reforestation programs will provide far more jobs to local communities, a wider range of economic benefits for East Africa and a cleaner environment which will benefit the globe and future generations.
Aryampa Brighton is a lawyer and the Chief Executive Officer of Youth for Green Communities (YGC). You can contact Brighton at [email protected].