Grassroots Faith Activists in Uganda, Tanzania, France Express Support
GreenFaith has welcomed the recent announcement by the European Union Parliament’s emergency resolution expressing grave concerns about the impacts of the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.
“EACOP has displaced dozens of families in my region and none of them has received compensation commensurate with their losses and suffering,” said Edwin Mumbere, a grassroots GreenFaith activist in Uganda. “Climate change will displace more of us in the future. I’m glad that the EU is finally holding accountable those who are responsible for this.” Research has shown that at least 100,000 people risk displacement due to the project.
GreenFaith’s Global Organizing Co-Director, Meryne Warah, said the Parliament’s action was an affirmation of climate and human rights concerns of grassroots people of faith along the pipeline route in Tanzania and Uganda. Dr. Martin Kopp, who has organized GreenFaith’s multi-religious opposition to EACOP in France, including through peaceful protests at the TotalEnergies headquarters in Paris, noted that widely respected international scientific bodies and the International Energy Agency had recognized repeatedly that new fossil fuel projects are incompatible with achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.
GreenFaith also expressed disappointment at the response of the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments criticizing the EU resolution. “The oil transported by the proposed pipeline would create greenhouse gas emissions many times greater than the combined total of Tanzania and Uganda, while almost all this oil would be exported,” said Ms Warah, adding: “This project will worsen the lives of everyday East Africans, line the pockets of select elites, and degrade the wellbeing of God’s people and planet alike. It is wrong.”
Pressure has been mounting on stakeholders such as TotalEnergies (with 62 per cent stake), Uganda National Oil (15 percent), Tanzania Petroleum Development Corp (15 percent), and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (8 percent) to stop EACOP and instead invest in universal access to affordable, renewable energy for all Ugandans and Tanzanians, and to protect the biodiversity along the proposed route of what would be the world’s longest heated oil pipeline project.
On Wednesday, the EU parliament pointed out that increasing evidence is emerging that local landholder rights in East Africa are being violated as companies amass the land needed for the 1,443-kilometer project. Echoing concerns long-voiced by the StopEACOP Coalition, of which GreenFaith is a member, the EU said it was concerned about “human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania linked to investments in fossil fuel projects, including the wrongful imprisonment of human rights defenders, the arbitrary suspension of NGOs, arbitrary prison sentences and the eviction of hundreds of people from their land without fair and adequate compensation.”
The EU Parliament’s resolution, which calls for the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments to ensure respect for human rights, is a shot in the arm for the activists, said Baraka Lenga, a grassroots GreenFaith leader in Tanzania. “This is a moral milestone for all partners that have been working tirelessly to #stopEACOP and Project-affected persons whose rights have been violated and who have been intimidated into silence about the injustices caused by TotalEnergies’ investment in the fossil fuel industry in this region.”
Efforts by GreenFaith and other religious partners in East Africa and in France to block EACOP have included educating people of diverse faiths about the dangers posed by the project, organizing peaceful public demonstrations, and highlighting the intimidation of EACOP opponents, including journalists and rights activists. Several GreenFaith actions have been met with police harassment, despite the fact that organizers secured all legal permits.
Despite these challenges, GreenFaith sees increasing awareness and opposition among religious groups to EACOP in France, East Africa, and globally.
In October, during its Faiths for Climate Justice month of climate action, GreenFaith’s grassroots circles in France and East Africa will be holding public actions to demonstrate growing religious opposition to EACOP. “We will persevere until TotalEnergies has brought its destructive madness to an end,” said grassroots activist Lenga. “We are determined.”
GreenFaith is an international, interfaith environmental organization whose mission is to inspire, train, and organize people of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds around the world for environmental action.
It was founded in 1992, and is among the world’s oldest religious-environmental groups. It works in the areas of education and training, local organizing, and campaigning. GreenFaith has played leadership roles in the world’s largest climate change mobilizations and the fossil fuel divestment movement.
GreenFaith organized global multi-faith campaigns in the lead-up to the COP21 Paris Climate negotiations, and is a co-founder of a campaign to accelerate investment in renewable energy development in regions of the world that lack access to modern forms of energy.
The organization launched GreenFaith International in the lead-up to COP26, with affiliates in 14 countries in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia-Pacific, and Europe.
Through its grassroots circles and in conjunction with partner organizations, GreenFaith has continued to amplify the voices of religious leaders in demanding climate justice from authorities and governments through a campaign dubbed Faiths For Climate Justice (F4CJ).