LAUDATO SI’ MOVEMENT STATEMENT on fossil fuel expansion in Africa and the International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2021

by | Oct 14, 2021 | Blog, News and Updates | 0 comments

Hope for the positive change

On October 13 the International Energy Agency (IEA) released the World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2021. This year’s WEO is a huge step forward in ambition from the IEA, because they have confirmed that the WEO will include a prominent 1.5ºC – aligned scenario. That is a robust call to action to governments and investors before COP26 to end fossil fuel finance and expansion now. Earlier in May the IEA stated in Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap, that there is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway. “Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required.”

But exploration continues in many countries of the African continent (EACOP in Uganda and Tanzania, LNG projects in Mozambique, oil in Okavango delta in Botswana).

As a movement, we continuously support a constructive dialogue with faith, interfaith and secular actors, excluding those, who bet on fossil fuels as their priority. 

Global companies like Total have so much potential to support the world to transform and redirect the available resources to renewable energy development and growth. Pressing ahead with new projects like EACOP is fundamentally counter to this transformation, locking in further fossil fuel use and emissions that humanity and our Common Home simply cannot afford. EACOP will destroy Africa’s potential in sustainable agriculture, tourism and a green economy based on ecosystem services and biodiversity. 

Grounded in our Catholic values and Laudato Si’s integral ecology vision, we stand on our position. The EACOP project should be stopped, to care for God’s creation and protect the most vulnerable among us.

Background. 

If completed, EACOP will be the longest heated pipeline in the world. Both the extraction sites and the EACOP pose serious and severe environmental and social risks to protected wildlife areas, water sources and communities throughout Uganda and Tanzania. It threatens one of the most ecologically diverse and wildlife-rich regions in the world. It would open critical ecosystems including Murchison Falls National Park to oil extraction, passing through critical elephant, lion, and chimpanzee habitats and 12 forest reserves.

Human rights violations for communities (over 100 000 people) along its route. Over  7,000 people from 13 villages have already lost land in Hoima district, on the eastern shore of Lake Albert, to make way for infrastructure, including an airport to fly in equipment for the oil fields. Many of those expelled now live in concrete houses in a resettlement village. They complain of cramped conditions, long walks to their new fields, and no room for their livestock.

The latest IPCC Report (AR6) indicates that the remaining carbon budget to remain within 1.5°C is 400 billion tonnes CO2. Global CO2 emissions are about 36 billion tonnes per year, so the 400 billion tonnes budget will last just 11 years if no reductions are made, i.e. until the end of 2030. Existing fossil fuel operations are way bigger than such a carbon budget, so no new projects are possible (and many of the existing ones need to be shut down). In fact, EACOP alone will generate over 34 million tons of carbon emissions each year. 

The World Energy Outlook of the IEA, released today, on October 13th. In May of 2021, the IEA released “Net Zero in 2050: A roadmap for the global energy system,” in which the IEA, for the first time, backed calls for ending licensing and finance for new fossil fuel extraction. In this year’s WEO, the IEA doubles down on its 1.5°C analysis, highlighting the Net Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario as a core benchmark to inform COP26. WEO2021 calls for a massive scale up in clean energy and an end to fossil fuel expansion & finance beyond existing fields and mines.

Specifically, WEO 2021 reiterates that 1.5°C means “no fossil fuel exploration” and “no new oil and natural gas fields … beyond those that have already been approved for development.”  It also shows: coal plant construction must stop now, new LNG export facilities are likely stranded assets, global clean energy investment needs to more than triple by 2030, and rich countries must decarbonize electricity fully by 2035. Important concerns remain with elements of this scenario, notably around CCS and bioenergy, but overall it is a major movement-driven win to see a 1.5°C scenario as the benchmark scenario in the WEO this year.

This comes after several years of campaigning from civil society organizations and others worldwide. Last month, 150 civil society organisations, including Laudato Si’ Movement, wrote to the IEA where urged the IEA to position the Net Zero by 2050 scenario as the central scenario in the upcoming 2021 World Energy Outlook as well as future WEOs and all other IEA analysis; and strengthen the Net Zero by 2050 scenario by cutting over-reliance on carbon capture and storage (CCS), fossil gas, nuclear energy, and bioenergy.

 Laudato Si’ Movement is a part of #STOPEACOP coalition of more than 40 organisations which act together to stop EACOP for nature, for people and for climate. Already more than 1 million people have raised their voices against EACOP, including the African Bishops call for a halt to gas and oil exploration in Africa, released on Sept 24th, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille recently encouraged all Catholics to sign the “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Congress in Marseille. In September LSM delivered an open letter to the IUCN Headquarters demanding that IUCN should make a public statement and put in place an ad hoc group on the Tilenga/Kingfisher/EACOP oil projects. Awareness raising blog in Le Monde, supported by published on October 8, signed and supported by 12 catholic and secular personalities and movements. LSM is also participating in an Action at the Total tour on Monday 18th of October.

“The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa” (LS, 51). A sad example: Madagascar’s current Climate-driven Famine, with at least 400,000 people headed for famine. 

The IPCC Report and Catholic Social Teaching on this issue are crystal clear. Huge “Carbon Bomb” projects such as EACOP/Tilenga (1 billion barrels of oil) are simply not possible if we are to have a chance of remaining under 1.5°C of warming. “The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” demand nothing less. “​​The 1.5°C threshold is a moral threshold”.

African countries should have an equal chance to create, develop and sustain a just and non fossil fuels based economy along with the countries of Europe and all Global North. 

African countries should not become places of a last resort for a fossil fuel industry to continue with the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels and do business as usual by all means. We recognize that we must support a vision for a sustainable and inclusive economy across East Africa and the entire continent – and we are looking forward to supporting and  growing connections and collaboration. We cherish the rights of Ugandans and Tanzanians. Sustainable economic growth and development will only be achieved if driven by and for the citizens of these countries. 

We appreciate the IEA input that it has made this year into their Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap (May 2021) and World Energy Outlook 2021 (October 2021). For several years, investors, climate scientists, civil society, business leaders, and progressive governments have been urging the IEA to align its climate modelling with 1.5ºC. This is because of the real world impact the IEA has in influencing trillions of USD in energy spending from governments and investors – as the IEA’s flagship report, the WEO influences trillions of USD in energy investment from governments and investors. 

But more work needs to be done in terms of ending all existing fossil fuel investments and harmful fossil fuel exploration along with keeping fossil fuel corporations accountable for their net zero pledges, mostly based on CCS (carbon capture and storage) technologies that either don’t exist or have a very little practical use. With no concrete action plan, timeline and set of specific measures combined with the budget for a transition, they are a false solution to a climate crisis which we don’t support. 

From now on we need to keep all remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground to limit warming with 1.5ºC.

EACOP is not an investment into all listed sectors even though it’s been presented under the guise of a huge benefit for local economies.

We demand to stop EACOP and will continue to advocate prophetically for a world free from fossil fuels and open to social and climate justice.

Laudato Si’ Movement
Laudato Si’ Movement

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