Deep in Tanzania and Uganda, EACOP plans are causing the creation

The East African crude oil pipeline would be the longest heated pipeline in the world. But the International Energy Agency has not yet called for any new fossil fuel projects. Activists including Vanessa Nakate recently visited Pope Francis and received his full support ahead of Laudato si’ week.

By Jonathan Braden

The song of God’s creation can be heard regularly deep within the Biharamulo Game Reserve in Tanzania. The roars of lions; the trumpeting of elephants; and the roars of buffaloes reverberate throughout the 1,300 square kilometer reserve. Smaller members of God’s creation also roam, including aardvarks, sitatungas, and the red colobus monkey, which has only five homes left in the world.

Yet the peace and tranquility that has accompanied these members of God’s creation for centuries, along with countless others across Tanzania and Uganda, is once again threatened by an ambitious pipeline that could cause untold damage. precedent to our common home and led Pope Francis and the Catholic Church to oppose it.

What is EACOP?

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is a proposed 1,443 kilometer pipeline which, if completed, would be the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world. The pipeline begins in Hoima in Uganda and ends in the port of Tanga in Tanzania. In between, it tears up national parks, forests, reserves and farmlands. Already, the pipeline, which is still under construction, has displaced thousands of farmers and disrupted their livelihoods. It has the potential to cause similar harm to millions of Ugandans and Tanzanians.

The pipeline is being built as scientists raise decibel levels on climate crisis alarm, and after the International Energy Agency called for no new fossil fuel projects if the world should achieve net zero emissions by 2050. EACOP is expected to generate up to 34 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

“The Catholic Church stands with the people of Uganda and Tanzania in denouncing the EACOP project and calling on both governments to consider investing in projects consistent with preserving and caring for our common home, the poor and the economy,” said Prof. Joshtrom Kureethadam, Coordinator of the Ecology and Creation sector of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

“To the multinational institutions that still support and promote the use of coal, oil and gas in emerging countries in Africa and beyond, it is high time that they divest these funds from the renewable energy sector. Renewable energy has the potential to boost large economies, create sustainable jobs and reduce huge electricity bills driven by overreliance on fossil fuels.

Meeting with Pope Francis

Activists, including Vanessa Nakate from Uganda, are leading the urgent fight against the destructive pipeline. Nakate, Fridays For Future’s first striker in Uganda, and three other Ugandan activists recently completed their StopEACOP tour, which included time at the Vatican and a special event Meet with Pope Francis.

“The meeting with the Pope is important because activists, conservationists and scientists have reached out to world leaders about the dangers facing people and the planet and asked them to act, but we haven’t seen anything of significant action. We continue to see continued investment in fossil fuels,” Nakate said. “It’s important to have direct dialogues with the pope and other leaders to share our stories. .. and have a heart-to-heart conversation.”

She added that building the EACOP would make it “impossible” to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius this century. The pipeline would also leave “communities at a point of no recovery from the climate crisis. This conversation may change the minds of polluters when they hear other leaders join the fight for climate action.

Nakate and the other three Ugandan activists – Diana Nabiruma of the African Institute for Energy Governance; Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, founder of Uganda’s Fridays for Future movement; and Maxwell Atuhura of Tasha Research Institute Africa Limited in Uganda – “want to see an end to funding for any new fossil fuel projects”, including EACOP, and increased investment in clean and sustainable energy.

Advocacy for a just transition

Nakate added that the world needs “a just transition for all without leaving out vulnerable and less privileged communities. Commitment of climate finance for vulnerable communities to deliver, and money for loss and damage should also be discussed and provided to communities.

Nakabuye said it was crucial for activists to work to raise global awareness of the issues in their regions. “We want people in Europe and around the world to know about the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. We want financial institutions and other big businesses to support [energy company] Total to withdraw its support. We want to see this project stopped, as well as any other new oil projects in Africa and around the world,” she said.

Teaching of the Catholic Church

The teaching of the Catholic Church recognizes that the climate crisis is a serious moral issue that threatens every living being in our common home, the father said. said Kureethadam. The climate emergency and ecological crisis are undermining humanity’s ability to protect human life, health, dignity and security. The double crisis also seriously affects our ability to promote the common good and care for God’s creation.

Fossil fuels are the primary cause of the climate crisis, and their overuse runs counter to Pope Francis’ vision of integral ecology that he set out in the encyclical Laudato si’. His Holiness told a group of leaders of major oil and gas companies in 2018: “Civilization needs energy, but the use of energy must not destroy civilization!

Pope Francis further defined this vision in October 2020, sharing how everyone can work to bring Laudato si’ to life: “One way to encourage this change is to lead companies towards the urgent need to commit themselves to the integral care of our common home, excluding from investments companies that do not meet the parameters of the integral ecology, while rewarding those who work concretely, during this transition phase, to put sustainability, social justice and the promotion of the common good at the center of their activities.

Nakate and his fellow activists are working to put the common good at the center of everything in Uganda and Tanzania, even amid documented attacks on conservationists and civil society organizations. The whole church can elevate its work through committed prayer and action.

Prof. Joshtrom said, “All of our efforts, united together, have the potential to promote Laudato Si’ dialogue to every person, and this, we pray, leads to a change of mind so that the world stops the expansion fossil fuels, the collapse of biodiversity. , and the climate crisis.

This story was produced through a partnership with Laudato Si’ Movementwhich serves the Catholic family around the world to transform the encyclical of Pope Francis Laudato si’ in action for climate and ecological justice.

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