Climate activists are urging financial firms not to back a $5 billion pipeline project in East Africa.
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline aims to transport oil from the Hoima oilfields in Uganda to the Tanzanian coastal city of Tanga.
Approval to begin construction of the pipeline came in early February after a final agreement was reached between the project’s main backers. But a growing list of financial backers decided to quit the project in recent weeks as public opposition grew.
The 1,443 kilometer oil project is described as the longest heated pipeline in the world. The project is led by China National Oil Corporation and French energy company TotalEnergies. Major oil companies in Uganda and Tanzania are also backing the pipeline, which is expected to start transporting oil in 2025.
Opponents of the project say the pipeline will displace thousands of families and threaten the water resources of Lake Victoria and the Nile basins. Environmental group 350.org estimated that the pipeline will produce about 34 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. This level of pollution, the group says, will fuel existing climate change.
“The climate crisis is affecting many people in Africa,” environmental activist Vanessa Nakate said at a recent rally in Mombasa, Kenya. “There is no future in the fossil fuels industry, which has done more harm than good in much of Africa.
Nakate added, “We cannot eat or drink oil.”
Growing pressure from many environmental groups has led to a growing list of banks and Assurance companies to withdraw from the project. Over the past week, major insurer Allianz Group withdrew its support.
So far, at least 15 banks and seven insurance companies – including HSBC, BNP Paribas and Swiss Re Group – have dropped their financial support for the pipeline.
Omar Elmawi is a leader of #StopEACOP, a campaign to stop the pipeline. He told The Associated Press that by supporting the project, TotalEnergies is “putting profits before people.”
“At a time when scientists are calling for phasing out fossil fuel projects… it is misguided and irresponsible to go ahead with this project, while ignoring the cries of those most affected,” Elmawi said.
Environmental activist Hilda Nakabuye told Reuters the pipeline would be most harmful to women and children. Damage would result from spills, pollution and travel along the pipeline route, she said.
TotalEnergies has defended the pipeline and says the project does not violate any environmental laws in Uganda or Tanzania. An environment impact A study by the Dutch Environmental Assessment Board has raised concerns about the risks to wildlife in the area. Study warns of possible harm to chimpanzees in Bugoma, Wambabya and Taala forests reservations in Uganda.
Proponents of the pipeline have pointed to oil export revenues estimated at around $2 billion a year. Furthermore, they claim that the project would create at least 12,000 new jobs and could attract more development to the continent.
I am Brian Lynn.
The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.
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words in this story
bowl – nm a low-lying area of land from which water flows into a river
episode – nm act of producing or emitting something (such as energy or gas) from a source
fossil fuels – nm fuels such as coal, oil or natural gas formed in the earth from dead plants or animals
Assurance – nm an agreement where you pay money to a company and they pay your costs if you have an accident, injury, etc.
phase out – v. gradually stop using something
impact – nm the effect that a person, event or situation has on someone or something
reserve – nm an area of land where animals and plants are protected