The UK is fuelling climate change and conflict in Mozambique

The UK is fuelling climate change and conflict in Mozambique

By: Ilham Rawoot and Anabela Lemos
Date: 27 February 2021
Campaigns: Aid, Climate

Despite pledges to stop financing fossil fuels overseas, the UK is putting $1 billion towards a major gas project in Mozambique.

It is more than a decade since 75 trillion cubic feet of gas was discovered off the coast of northern Mozambique. Today the country is home to Africa’s three largest liquid natural gas projects: the Mozambique LNG Project, Coral LNG and Rovuma LNG, all led by foreign energy corporations – ExxonMobil, Total and Eni.

Mozambique LNG, led by France’s Total, has benefited from $20 billion of fossil finance – the biggest loan in Mozambique’s history. The US Export-Import Bank, under Trump’s watch, loaned $5 billion, while UK Export Finance, part of the UK’s Department for International Trade, announced in July that it has contributed around $1 billion of support.

People are extremely poor in the region where all of these gas projects are located, the province of Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique. Yet they are suffering from the ‘textbook’ issues that history has repeatedly shown us always come with the extractives industry: losing their homes and their livelihoods. Over 550 fishing and farming families have been displaced and left without livelihoods – they were promised jobs in the gas industry, but have only received short-term unskilled jobs like cleaners, guards and basic labour on the construction sites. They have been moved far from the ocean and their farming lands, and are now relying on food parcels from Total.

Meanwhile, the area has become increasingly militarised, as the Mozambican military and mercenaries try to protect the interests of the industry from insurgents. ExxonMobil and Total have provided more money to the government specifically to deploy more soldiers in Cabo Delgado, and industry players have also hired their own private security companies.

The government is notorious for corruption – in the last few years there has been an elite illegal debt scandal, which the UK banking system played a role in – and when the UK, US and other developed countries invest in fossil fuels, it’s rewarding this corruption and enabling impunity.

Mozambique is already suffering from the effects of climate change and these gas projects will only make that worse. Climate injustice and human rights are interlinked. If they really want to invest in development, in bettering the lives of Mozambicans, this money should go into education, into housing, into renewable, just energy systems for people – working with communities to understand their needs.

Ilham Rawoot and Anabela Lemos are with Justiça Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique).

Image: The beach near Milamba village, from where many fishing and farming families have been displaced. Many are now relying on food parcels from Total. Credit: Justiça Ambiental