‘EACOP is a prime example of colonial exploitation’: Stopping the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline
Climate change is a global crisis, so the fight must be in the form of international collaboration. Across the world people are fighting against fossil fuel expansion. While these fights take different forms they are all to one end; a liveable future on a liveable planet.
On 14 September, locals from across Edinburgh came together to watch Stop EACOP: A Crude Reality and speak with Ugandan climate activist Patience Nabukalu. Patience passionately told the crowd of the climate damage that would result if the East African pipeline goes ahead, and the social devastation from the unjust practices of its implementation.
During the event, the participants learnt about the realities of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. A 1444 km oil pipeline that would run from Uganda through Tanzania to the Indian Ocean. If built, it would be the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world, releasing 34 million metric tons of CO2 annually. Running through critical areas of biodiversity, the pipeline would threaten sensitive ecosystems.
The project not only has major implications for the environment but its construction will displace local communities, remove farmers from their land and pose significant risk to Lake Victoria, which 40 million people rely on for their livelihoods. The pipeline will go through East Africa, but the oil will not be for East Africans to use. It will go to the Port of Tanga in Tanzania, to be shipped to the global north for consumption there.
Our fight may be as one but the cost of inaction is significantly different. Patience explained that years of colonialism and exploitation will result in climate change devastating the global south on a scale we won’t see in the global north. Additionally, the way TotalEnergies and international energy company CNOOC are implementing this project is a clear example of neo-colonial exploitation. Communities are being displaced, people are losing their livelihoods and voices are being silenced to prioritise the growing wealth of a small few. Patience shared a short clip of her role in “The world’s most dangerous show”. In the show, Patience walks the presenter through The Big Five – ways neo-colonialism is at play in Uganda today. Number 5 on the list black gold – oil.
Patience spoke powerfully about the impact the East African pipeline is already having on people in Uganda and Tanzania.
She said: “EACOP is a prime example of colonial exploitation that we must address…It doesn’t promise development, instead it promises to worsen our communities. Many have lost their homes and livelihoods without compensation. This is a grave injustice…This is not just about land and resources, it’s about the heritage of our people.
The battle is against profit driven endeavours that exploit our environment and people. Let us stand united in the passage of a more just and sustainable future for all”
So, what action can we take here to show solidarity, and damage the credibility of this project in order to stop it going ahead?
At the event in Edinburgh we discussed different targets. These include the financial backers: banks and financial institutions, and also international insurance companies (Stop EACOP has drawn up a list of targets here) – as without insurance the project can’t go ahead.
During her time in the UK, Patience supported demonstrations in Manchester and Glasgow outside the offices of oil and gas insurers Chubb, a large oil and gas insurance company that has refused to say whether it will insure the project.
She also took part in the ‘Oily Money Out’ week of action outside the oil and money conference in London
A speaker from Divest Lothian at the event highlighted that the Lothian Pension Fund invests in Total Energies. So, following the discussion, Divest Lothian led the group to the Edinburgh City Chambers to call on the Lothian Pension Fund to divest from Total Energies. On a busy Saturday on the Royal Mile, Patience led chants to Stop EACOP, while the supporters raised their signs and voices.
Photos: Jane Herbstritt/Daisy Pearson, Global Justice Now