Ugandan and Tanzanian human rights and environmental groups, along with affected local communities, have been striving to engage Chinese insurers regarding their potential involvement in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). Despite peaceful protests and petitions, their calls for dialogue have been met with silence.

During the Insure Our Future Global Week of Action, civil society and climate justice organizations stood in solidarity against EACOP, urging the insurance industry to stop underwriting destructive fossil fuel projects. Insurance companies, often silent enablers of environmental degradation, must align their policies with global climate targets to secure a livable future.

Despite withdrawals from European, North American, and Asian banks and insurers due to environmental and human rights concerns, EACOP developers are seeking financing from Chinese state-backed entities. China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (commonly referred to as “SINOSURE”) and China Reinsurance Corporation (commonly referred to as “China Re”) are now vital to the advancement of this controversial $5 billion Climate bomb. This reliance on Chinese funding for fossil projects underscores the urgent need to shift away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy.

Institutions like universities are pivotal in shaping future leaders’ perspectives on climate issues. An initial dialogue with various university students in Nairobi, Kenya, together with the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Franciscans Africa (JPIC FA) emphasized the moral imperative of divesting from fossil fuels and investing in sustainable alternatives. “The fossil fuel industry needs insurance for every single project. Insurance companies don’t need the fossil fuel industry. Dirty fuels – and the pollution and overheating they cause – threaten the insurance industry’s ability to do business,” said Sr. Mary Frances, Director of JPIC FA and Laudato Si’ Animator during her opening remarks of the event.

“As a Mozambican, I do not say no to fossil fuels, I suggest we come up with other alternatives to combat air pollution and secure our future, for fossil fuels are a good source of income that can be used to develop nations and reduce poverty,” said Jeckly Emmanuel Jone Mucua, a student and current Mr. Environment of the Africa Nazarene University. While acknowledging the revenue potential of fossil fuels for developing nations and poverty alleviation, it’s crucial to recognize their detrimental environmental and social-cultural impacts. By prioritizing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, we not only mitigate negative development pathways but also pave the way for sustainable economic development for Africa. 

The Refueling Africa university dialogue series ignited a vital discussion on fossil fuels, economic growth, the role of faith-based and community organizations in advocating for environmental justice, and the necessity of embracing genuine solutions to address the climate crisis. Embracing renewable energy initiatives not only ensures a cleaner and healthier environment but also fosters long-term prosperity and resilience for African nations. 

“Young people are aware that the climate crisis is ongoing, and they are ready to act,” said Flavian Wanzala, a Laudato Si Animator and student at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. “Let’s use our expertise, resources, and partnerships to influence insurance companies to drive positive Environmental and social outcomes through their insurance products & services, investments, and business operations” echoed Kennedy Wangari, Secretary General of the Strathmore University Student Council. Dialogue is key to fostering advocacy and empowering communities to address complex environmental challenges. 

Together, we can influence insurance companies to prioritize positive environmental and social outcomes in their operations and investments.