Blog / 27 May 2022

Divest from EACOP before it’s too late

and Abigail Kyomuhendo*
This week the annual shareholder meeting (AGM) of TotalEnergies took place. Whilst the shareholders celebrated their profits, Ugandan people were being evicted from their lands, thousands of kilometers away, for Total's East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

EACOP will transport crude oil from the Albertine region in northwest Uganda to Tanga, a port in Tanzania from where it will be exported around the world. The oil drilling and the pipeline threatens biodiversity, water supply and fishing resources for millions of people and displace thousands of households. It now already leads to human rights violations, especially targeted at activists speaking out against EACOP**.

EACOP has the dubious honour to become a replicate of the Niger Delta trauma. And that in an era when we all know we shouldn't be building any more pipelines and drill for new oil and gas sources. To keep the 1.5 degrees of the Paris Agreement within reach, we should keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Ugandan CSO's call for investments in clean energy instead

Says one citizen activist: "We want people in Europe and around the world to know about the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline. We want financial institutions and other big companies supporting Total to withdraw their support. We want to see this project stopped, as well as any other new oil projects in Africa and around the world."

Our Ugandan partners want to see an end to the funding of any new fossil-fuel projects, including EACOP, and an increased investment in clean and sustainable energy, particularly off grid solar energy. Because EACOP oil is for export, the project will not help the more than 90% of rural Ugandan people without electricity access. As such, Both ENDS supports their calls on government for putting in place policy frameworks, consumer protection laws, and investment that promotes expansion of off-grid solar energy.

Alarm bells are ringing: divest from TotalEnergies

Lately, good news has been coming in: earlier this year Dutch asset manager ACTIAM has set the standard: after a year long engagement failed to deliver adequate assurances from TotalEnergies on EACOP, they took the decision to exclude the oil and gas company from their investments. BankTrack on behalf of the coalition of #StopEACOP announced that this week seven more banks and insurers have confirmed they will not join the project loan to finance the EACOP. This takes the number of banks that want nothing to do with the EACOP project loan to 20 and the number of insurers to eight.

We think many other Dutch pension funds and asset managers need to influence TotalEnergies to stop EACOP or when they resist being influenced, do as ACTIAM has, and get out. The 11 mainly Dutch asset managers who tried to get a climate resolution on the agenda at this week's shareholder meeting but whose resolution was rejected to be tabled by TotalEnergies management should turn an even more critical eye towards TotalEnergies.

Both ENDS has sent information about EACOP to more than 15 Dutch pension funds and asked for meetings between these funds and our Ugandan partners so they can hear for themselves the perspective from the ground about how the oil and gas companies TotalEnergies and its Chinese counterpart CNOOC are operating. The first of these meetings occurred in April 2022 with Achmea, who manages the assets of 15 pension funds.

EACOP should be setting off alarm bells for investors committed to the Paris agreement. EACOP shows that TotalEnergies is not transitioning to becoming a renewable energy leader as some investors have hoped.

Call on investors: save Uganda from the disaster called EACOP

Banks, insurers, pension funds and export credit agencies need to cut off the money supply to develop EACOP.

At this moment, we can still save Uganda and its citizens from this disaster called EACOP. So let's join forces and help protect the lives, lands, and water supplies for thousands of Ugandans, as well as score one for the climate crisis.


*This is a pseudonym



**The environmental and human rights consequences of EACOP

EACOP will transport crude oil from the Albertine region in northwest Uganda to Tanga, a port in Tanzania from where it will be exported around the world. Nearly a third of EACOP will be constructed in the Lake Victoria basin, affecting Ramsar wetlands teeming with culturally-significant biodiversity. The lake also meets the water needs of up to 40 million people in East Africa.

The pipeline will cross 2,000sq. km of protected areas in Uganda and Tanzania, a third of which are habitats for chimpanzees and elephants. The oil to be transported by the pipeline will be extracted from Murchison Falls National Park, one of Uganda's largest, oldest and most visited parks, as well as Lake Albert, which contributes 43% of Uganda's fish resources.

Over 13,000 households are being re-located, more than 100,000 people affected. Human rights violations in the region are increasing, targeted mostly at activists protesting the pipeline and speaking out for the environment and the rights of the local communities. Women activists who speak out fare worse as when they are arrested, they face domestic and other pressures that take a psychological toll on them.

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