June 5, 2023
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ENVIRONMENT – 9 billion euros: this is the amount TotalEnergies needs to finance its oil project EACOP. The company wants to build a giant 1,443 kilometer pipeline that will cross Uganda and Tanzania. While TotalEnergies must present its climate strategy to its shareholders this May 26 during a General Assembly, hundreds of researchers denounce the “climate bomb” what EACOP stands for.

Indeed, if this project succeeds, more than 34 million tonnes of CO2 will be emitted each year, while we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions if we want to face the climate emergency. But before getting there, TotalEnergies must find the necessary investments to carry out its project. A task that is becoming more and more difficult, as you can see in the video at the top of the article.

Civil society pressure

The conclusions of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the IPCC report are clear: no new oil and gas project should come out of the ground if we do not want to exceed the objective of 1.5 degrees of warming, compared to the pre-industrial era, set by the Paris Agreement. So in New York, Brussels, London or Paris, demonstrations are multiplying to oppose this oil project.

By demonstrating directly in front of the banks, the objective is to put pressure so that they agree not to contribute to the EACOP project. In the long term, the activists are betting on disinvestment, that is to say that they hope that TotalEnergies cannot raise the funds necessary for the project to succeed.

Among the activists, Baraka Lenga, a Tanzanian climate scientist whom The HuffPost met in early May. He was in Bern at the end of April, to protest against the financing of the Swiss National Bank to TotalEnergies. This strategy is beginning to bear fruit, he says: “One of the biggest banks in London [Standard Chatered, ndrl] was supposed to give 5 billion US dollars [à TotalEnergies]. A few days ago, they released a press release explaining that they will ultimately not fund this project. So it’s a great victory for us. »

Currently, 25 banks have finally refused to participate in EACOP, including the French BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale. For Baraka Lenga, we must not stop there. “We continue to contact the banks, to ask them to withdraw their funding from this project. And even though 25 banks have announced that they won’t, it hasn’t been an easy job, it hasn’t been an easy task. We worked hard”.

Enough pressure?

But the reality is often much more complex and it is not because a bank undertakes not to finance EACOP that it will not support TotalEnergies in another way. This is also what environmental NGOs denounce, as explained by this article from echoesdating from May 2022. These associations accuse in particular BNP ParibasSociété Générale and Crédit Agricole for having granted an 8 billion dollar loan to TotalEnergies.

“It is true that there is a form of hypocrisy”denounces Antoine Laurent, advocacy manager France at the NGO Reclaim Finance. “You have to be honest, when you agree not to finance EACOP, it’s because the banks recognize that the project is negative on a social, climatic, ecological and environmental level. But when they continue to send billions into the coffers of TotalEnergies, which in addition continues to make monstrous profits, that does not prevent TotalEnergies from financing this project and others throughout the world. »

Moreover, not all banks are sensitive to the arguments of environmental activists and the financial interest takes precedence. “When we go to see the banks, they tell us: ‘You know, if I leave the project, another bank will take it and what’s more it will be a competitor’, so that annoys them because they are losing shares of market “explains the head of Reclaim Finance.

“To this, we reply that for climatic reasons, we have to stop funding these new projects and get rid of fossil fuels at home. We must prevent countries in Africa from becoming dependent on fossil fuels as we have become. We must do everything to ensure that economies develop differently than with fossil fuels. And on this, the banks can be allies. Today, unfortunately, they only partially play their role”he regrets.

“All they care about is the money”

If the mobilization against EACOP is now focusing on the banks, it is also because the governments of Uganda and Tanzania have authorized the construction of this controversial pipeline. A decision much criticized by Baraka Lenga: “These governments don’t care about climate change. For them, all that matters is money. They don’t care about the planet, they don’t care about people, they don’t care about ecosystems, they don’t care about biodiversity and the environment. All they care about is money. »

Antoine Laurent remains more measured: “When we look at the climate issue, we must not forget the past. The responsibility of African countries in the past is very much less than the responsibility incumbent on the countries of the North, which are moreover the main recipients of this oil which will come out of Tanzania. Neither oil nor gas are energies of the future”.

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