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Uganda oil project casts shadow over Total’s eco-friendly image.

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Total plans to drill for oil in Murchison Falls national park in north-western Uganda.

French energy firm plans to drill in national park and build 900-mile pipeline in sensitive environments.

The French oil and gas company TotalEnergies has worked to cultivate a green reputation with climate goals and plans to ramp up renewable power, but a massive east African oil project is casting a shadow over that messaging campaign.

Total plans to drill for oil in a richly biodiverse national park in Uganda and build a 900-mile pipeline, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will flow through sensitive environments to a port in Tanzania for export.

Burning that oil could release the equivalent of 34m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere, according to opponents of the project, who point out scientists have said the world needs to drastically decrease, not increase, emissions.

Total, France’s second largest company by revenue, rebranded in May 2021, renaming itself TotalEnergies and adopting a rainbow-themed logo. But its work in east Africa has become a rallying point for protesters, including during large climate marches in France last month.

A placard at a Paris climate protest showing Vladimir Putin and the TotalEnergies CEO, Patrick Pouyanné
A placard at a Paris climate protest showing Vladimir Putin and the TotalEnergies CEO, Patrick Pouyanné. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

The project has also turned off investors. More than half of the banks that have historically financed Total have ruled out backing the project, a symbol of the difficulty oil and gas companies face as they try to thread the needle of appearing concerned about the climate crisis while continuing to extract fossil fuels. At least five insurers have also ruled out support.

“TotalEnergies used to be our favourite company in the sector”, said Dennis van der Putten, who works in responsible investing at the Dutch asset management company Actiam. “It’s with pain in our heart that we decided to exclude them. But we had to do it, from our sustainability point of view.”

The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, said it “does not support the financing of oil projects in Africa”.

The criticisms of Total are increasingly isolating the French government and its president, Emmanuel Macron, who has repeatedly committed to get out of fossil fuels but has backed EACOP.

While France does not contribute financially to the project, it does provide diplomatic support. In a letter sent in early 2021 to Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, Macron described EACOP as a “major opportunity” for the two countries to “expand their cooperation”.

The Élysée Palace and the French ecology minister, Barbara Pompili, declined to comment for this story.

Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile, set among the trees of the national park
Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile, set among the trees of the national park. Photograph: Guenter Guni/Getty Images/iStockphoto

While Total has argued its project is “being carried out without the involvement of the French government”, a recent report from three environment and watchdog NGOs suggests Total has long employed “revolving door tactics” – hiring former senior civil servants and politicians, or seeing its own employees leave to work for the government.

The planning for the project has already stirred controversy over how people will be compensated for their land, leading to allegations of human rights violations and grabbing the attention of at least one member of parliament, Matthieu Orphelin, who wrote a letter to the French government highlighting what he described as the “proven violations of human rights and the environment”.

Adrin Tugume
‘No power to stop it’: optimism turns to frustration over east Africa pipeline
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Developers first discovered Uganda’s promising oilfields in the early 2000s. The British company Tullow Oil saw success in test wells in 2006. By 2020, Tullow Oil had sold its stakes in the area to Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

Total acquired the Tilenga fields within the Murchison Falls national park. The area includes a wetland site that is home to diverse species of birds. It also provides habitat to giraffes, elephants, giant pangolins, spotted hyenas, lions, chimpanzees, buffaloes, hippos, hartebeests, waterbucks, warthogs, oribis, Uganda kobs and grey duikers.

Elephants gather in the ecologically valuable wetlands of Murchison Falls national park
Elephants gather in the ecologically valuable wetlands of Murchison Falls national park. Photograph: Nicholas Bamulanzeki/Floodlight

The Tilenga fields consist of more than 400 wells, with an estimated production of 190,000 barrels of oil a day. CNOOC will drill to the south, producing about 40,000 barrels a day, and both companies will send their oil through the EACOP pipeline.

Critics say the drilling and pipeline threaten biodiversity and jeopardise the water sources for the Nile River. Activists have also accused project developers of human rights violations. They say compensation has been late or insufficient and opponents have been intimidated and arrested. Their accounts have been relayed by UN special rapporteurs, although the UN high commissioner for human rights has not yet assessed the project, Total noted in a response for this story while condemning threats against peaceful protesters.

The project puts a significant dent in Total’s pro-climate claims. Total argues its east Africa work would have a far more limited climate impact than the 34m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually that opponents suggest. But that is because Total does not count the emissions that occur when its oil is burned. It takes responsibility only for the emissions of its own operations, which it estimates at about 23m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the project, about four decades.

Total has in recent years adopted a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, even though its chief executive, Patrick Pouyanné, in 2020 mocked competitors who promised the same. Pouyanné in a recent interview argued that if Total abandoned its oil projects, another company would just take its place.

Reclaim Finance, an NGO, calculated that Total, the biggest European oil and gas developer, is planning a 33% increase in production by 2030 compared with current levels.

Just weeks ago, three environment groups filed a lawsuit against Total for “misleading” the public about its climate goals while it is making moves to expand production in Uganda, Mozambique and the Arctic, the groups said.

A tour boat approaching Murchison Falls, a popular destination for tourists in Uganda
A tour boat approaching Murchison Falls, a popular destination for tourists in Uganda. Photograph: RZAF/Alamy

“People are entitled to know whether the companies competing for their business are fuelling or fighting climate change”, said Johnny White, a lawyer with the legal charity ClientEarth.

Chastened by a pushback against climate pollution, companies around the globe are increasingly looking to distance themselves from fossil fuels. That is what first drew the ethical investors at Actiam to Total.

“Our view was that Total was leading more in terms of climate action and renewables and that it was ahead compared to US and other European companies. We thought they had a credible energy transition strategy,” said Greta Fearman, a responsible investing expert for the firm.

But the EACOP project “rang some alarm bells”, she said.

One US engineer Actiam consulted, Bill Powers, warned that the project could pollute critical clean water supplies.

“There will be spills,” Powers said. You can’t avoid that, and that’s not really an accusation but an engineering reality.”

Powers said he was particularly worried about Total’s plans for an estimated 230,000 metric tonnes of hazardous waste of cuttings and drilling muds, which are loaded with heavy metals and other toxic substances.

In other projects, including in the North Sea, Total has drilled an injection well to send the waste back deep underground. But in Uganda it will have contractors transport it to landfills several dozen kilometres away, generating thousands of truck trips.

“Total presents that as a good thing, as jobs for Ugandans. That’s what I call putting lipstick on a pig. In reality, this waste might even never reach a secure landfill,” Powers said.

Total did not directly address the likelihood of spills or the concerns about waste disposal, but pointed to independent assessments that it says ensure the project is “implemented in accordance with best social and environmental practices”.

Total argues it is taking steps to produce a “net positive impact” on biodiversity, including by “reducing human pressure” on the park by offering drilling as an alternative economic activity to tourism.

In autumn 2021, Total proposed a global partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature to help reduce its impacts on biodiversity. But the Swiss-based NGO said it has not reached an agreement with the company yet and consultations are continuing.

Fearman said Total has acknowledged the project will have an environmental impact “but their position is that if you lose biodiversity somewhere, just compensate elsewhere, by supporting conservation programs in other parts of Africa”.

As Total comes under scrutiny by banks and investors for its east Africa work, the Dutch organisation BankTrack has pointed out that it has not disclosed who will provide the $3bn (£2.3bn) project loan required.

Shareholders have approved the EACOP project, but Total said its financing is “still being arranged with interested international financial institutions”.

“[It’s] no wonder this project is struggling to find financiers unscrupulous and reckless enough to back it,” Banktrack’s spokesperson, Ryan Brightwell, said.

Original Source: The Guardian

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Environment

Offsets don’t stop climate change.

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Shortly before COP26, Amazon Watch and more than 170 organisations signed on to a statement under the headline “Offsets don’t stop climate change”.

The headline is borrowed from a December 2020 letter to the Financial Times in response to an editorial about Mark Carney’s Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets.

Offsets don’t stop climate change

The letter, from Doreen Stabinsky (College of the Atlantic, USA), Wim Carton (Lund University, Sweden), Kate Dooley (University of Melbourne, Australia), Jens Friis Lund (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), and Kathy McAfee (San Francisco State University, USA), states that, “Offsets don’t stop climate change because they don’t stop emissions.”

They write that,

In an ideal world, some types of offsets might theoretically balance out emissions with removals. But the whole point of an offset is that one entity gets to keep emitting.

And they explain that the problem is that with continued emissions, CO2 continues “to accumulate in the atmosphere where it resides for hundreds to thousands of years, and the temperature of the planet continues to increase”.

They point out that the oil industry is a primary beneficiary of offsetting and Carney’s taskforce was stacked with respresentatives of Big Polluters:

All the major oil companies are planning to continue with exploration and new extraction projects. None of them have plans for a managed decline of production that is anywhere near in line with the Paris goal aiming to limit warming to 1.5C. Indeed some fossil fuel majors have even stated their intent to increase exploration and production for at least the next five years. These are hardly decarbonisation goals. All of them intend to rely heavily on carbon offsetting to keep drilling and emitting-as-usual.

They conclude that if Carney were serious about addressing the climate crisis, he would “convene a taskforce on the managed decline of fossil fuels and bring the fossil fuel industry to the table”.

It’s not controversial to point out that offsetting does not reduce emissions (and therefore does not help address the climate crisis). Even proponents of offsetting will, if pushed, admit this fact:

Offsets don’t stop climate change

In a press release about the statement signed by more than 170 organisations, Jim Walsh of Food & Water Watch says,

“Offsets are nothing short of a scam that corporate interests push, allowing them to continue polluting our climate and frontline communities with impunity. The harm does not end there, as these offset schemes displace indigenous communities and prop-up corporate agriculture and factory farming. Addressing the climate crisis means keeping fossil fuels in the ground, rather than pursuing these scams that harm our communities and climate for nothing other than corporate profits.”

Here is the statement, “Offsets don’t stop climate climate change”. The list of signatories is available here:

Offsets don’t stop climate changeClimate-driven wildfires, flooding, droughts and other extreme weather events daily impact every corner of the globe.Yet the fossil fuel industry, big utilities, big agriculture, big finance — and their political allies — are pushing carbon offset schemes to allow them to continue releasing the greenhouse gases driving the climate crisis, harming Indigenous, Black, and other already-marginalized communities, and undermining sustainable farming and forestry practices.The science is clear: we need to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and emissions-intensive agricultural practices like factory farming, while protecting forests, wetlands, and other natural carbon sinks. Every delay means greater impacts on our climate and more pollution in historically overburdened communities.[1]We call on leaders around the world to join us in rejecting offset schemes because these pay-to-pollute practices are nothing more than false and harmful solutions to the climate crisis.

  • Nature-based offsets cannot “offset” fossil fuel combustion. While fossil fuel companies and other polluters would like fossil carbon and biological carbon to be fully interchangeable, this has no scientific basis.[2] Fossil carbon emissions are effectively permanent, coming from reservoirs deep in the earth where they have been stored for millions of years. When burned, the carbon pollution remains in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. In contrast, crops, soils, oceans, and forests are “fast-exchange” carbon reservoirs that have limited carbon storage capacity and can re-release carbon back into the atmosphere over the course of a few decades, or sometimes even over a few days.[3] Offsets confuse this basic science by wrongly treating the Earth’s biosphere as an endless source of potential storage for fossil carbon emissions.
  • Offsets of any kind perpetuate environmental injustice. Greenhouse gas emitting industries are disproportionately sited in poor communities and communities of color, causing them to bear the brunt of pollution. Offset schemes increase pollution in these communities, worsening environmental injustice.[4] Furthermore, by allowing pollution to continue in exchange for land grabs elsewhere, offsets often shift the burden of reducing emissions from the Global North to the Global South.[5]
  • The use of offsets is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions. Polluters frequently purchase offsets for emissions-reducing practices by one entity, so that their own emissions can continue. In this case, emissions are still added to the atmosphere, so global warming continues. Polluters also purchase offsets for practices that could pull carbon out of the atmosphere, such as by planting forests or protecting existing forests. However, carbon storage in natural ecosystems is inherently temporary and highly reversible, as has been seen so clearly in the tragic forest fires in the U.S. west in the past few years.[6] All that carbon can be released very quickly back into the atmosphere, again increasing emissions.
  • Offsets can result in violations of the rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples. Satisfying market demands for offsets will require access to huge expanses of land and forest, lands already occupied by Indigenous Peoples, peasants, and local communities. As such, Indigenous lands are increasingly targeted by forest offset project developers, creating pressure and division in Indigenous communities.[7]
  • Offsets undermine sustainable farming and increase consolidation in agriculture. Carbon offset programs give additional leverage to already powerful corporations, including agribusinesses and factory farms, that have long squeezed farm income and drained rural economies, while increasing environmental pollution.[8] Corporations and large landowners are best-positioned to develop offset projects, which further entrenches the factory farm and corn/soybean monocultural model at the expense of small farmers, including Black and Indigenous farmers and Tribal Nations. Instead of allowing the industrial, extractive model of agriculture to further prosper by selling offsets to industrial polluters, policy makers should support traditional and ecologically regenerative agricultural practices.
  • Offsets markets create more conditions for fraud and gambling than for climate action. Existing offset schemes have already proven to be easily open to fraud.[9] Yet the speculative trading of offsets derivatives and other financial products has already begun, prioritizing profit-seeking traders and speculators over economic and climate justice.[10]

We call on global policy makers to reject offset schemes and embrace real climate solutions that will keep fossil fuels in the ground, support sustainable food systems, and end deforestation, while eliminating pollution in frontline communities.


[1] IPCC, Global Warming of 1.5°C. International Energy Agency, Net Zero by 2050. IPCC, AR6 Climate Change 2021.

[2] Carton et al. “Undoing Equivalence: Rethinking Carbon Accounting for Just Carbon Removal,” Frontiers in Climate, 16 April 2021.

[3] Anderegg, W. et al., Climate-driven risks to the climate mitigation potential of forests, Science 368 (6947) 2020. Mackey, B. et al. 2013., “Untangling the confusion around land carbon science and climate change mitigation policy,” Nature Climate Change, 3(6),pp.552-557, 2013.

[4] Food & Water Watch, “Cap and trade: More pollution for the poor and people of color,” November 2019 at 1 to 2.

[5] Gilbertson, Tamara, Carbon Pricing: A Critical Perspective for Community Resistance, Indigenous Environment Network and Climate Justice Alliance, 2017.[6] Anderegg, W., “Gambling with the climate: how risky of a bet are natural climate solutions?,” AGU Advances, 2021. Coffield, S.R. et al., “Climate-driven limits to future carbon storage in California’s wildland ecosystems,” AGU Advances, 2021.

[7] Ahmend, N., “World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme ‘complicit in genocidal land grabs – NGOs,” The Guardian, 3 July 2014. Forest Peoples Programme, The Reality of REDD in Peru: Between Theory and Practice, November 2011.

[8] Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, “Why carbon markets won’t work for agriculture,” January 2020 at 2.

[9] Elgin, B., “A Top U.S. Seller of Carbon Offsets Starts Investigating Its Own Projects,” Bloomberg. 5 April 2021.

[10] Hache, F., Shades of Green: The Rise of Natural Capital Markets and Sustainable Finance, Green Finance Observatory, March 2019.

Original Source: Redd-monitor.

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Environment

NO more GE trees! Open Letter Denouncing Suzano Papel e Celulose’s glyphosate-resistant Genetically Engineered (GE) Eucalyptus

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More than 50 organizations, networks and movements from Brazil and around the world denounce the release into the environment and the commercial use of a new transgenic eucalyptus from the Brazilian company Suzano Papel e Celulose!

The approval by the National Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) of the GE eucalyptus resistant to glyphosate, identified as 751K032, is a serious threat to life, to society and to nature. It was approved without any democratic consultation with Brazilian civil society in general and the neighboring communities of the areas where the plantations will be located in particular. The only concern was granting the license in the benefit of the commercial interests of Suzano Papel e Celulose, instead of the detrimental effect on life.

Organizations denounce the CTNBio decision from November 16, 2021 to approve the release into the environment, commercial use and any other related activities of the new GE eucalyptus developed by FuturaGene, owned by Suzano Papel e Celulose.

The letter ends by demanding the immediate revocation of the license granted for the use of Suzano GE eucalyptus 751KO32, as well as the action and intervention of the Federal Public Prosecution Service to revoke the decision made by the CTNBio, a decision made without a full public debate, especially in regions of Brazil that have been exposed for many years to eucalyptus monoculture.

Read the complete letter here.

Original Source:  Alert Against Green Desert

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UN seeks increased public finance to protect forests.

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UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres

Antonio Gutteres, the Secretary-General of the UN, made this call on Monday, May 2, 2022, at the opening of the 15th World Forestry Congress (WFC) in Seoul, South Korea.

The increase in the finance, he said, should include source-based payments and a dearth of environmental swaps to achieve a deforestation-free world.

Gutteres, who spoke through his Deputy, Amina Mohammed, also called for a budget and policy for forestry commitment among global communities.

He said it was unfortunate that about 4.7 billion hectares of forest were being lost annually to deforestation and environmental degradation in the last decade.

The UN chief called for concerted efforts toward achieving deforestation-free supply chains.

“Since the last congress in 2015, recognition of the critical role of forests of all types play in meeting the sustainable development goals and achieving the past agreements has gained much attention.

“The recent classical degradation on forest and land use has further underlined key transform to actions needed to save all forest and advance the 2030 agenda.

“This congress takes place right over the latest report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change.

“The panel warns that the world is dangerously close to irreversible topping point for forestry section, for the health of people, and for the planet,” he said.

According to him, this supports resilient livelihood, biodiversity consideration, sustainable economy and climate mitigation and adaptation.

“Forest remained under threat and in the last decade alone, the world has lost 4.7 billion hectares a year.

“We must specially recognise and act on the value of the forest hence the theme of the congress, ‘Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forest.

“We need all stakeholders to come up with ideas and commitment that can be put into action,” he said.

Gutteres explained that forests could also be protected by expanding indigenous governance for forests in the perspectives of youth and women and using the latest scientific evidence and catchy head technology.

“I look forward to the outcome of this congress feeding into climate change and biodiversity negotiation and other policies.

“Together, I believe we can build a green, healthy and resilient future by realising the true value of the forest,” the UN scribe said.

In her remark, Princess Sasma Ali, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, canvassed a diversified approach to achieving success in building a green, healthy and resilient future with forest.

Ali is also Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Ali said that 30 per cent of the world’s forest had been cleared with another 20 per cent degraded.

She said it would require dedicated political will and the development of policy measures to reverse the tide.

The FAO ambassador also called for the mobilisation of funds in addition to engaging all stakeholders to achieve the target.

“Accordingly, there is no to engage all stakeholders more importantly indigenous people, and local communities’ members.

“They possess the knowledge, and the custody of this ecosystem coupled with scientific experts who can monitor the system,” she said.

Qu Dongyu, Director-General, FAO, acknowledged some progress in reforestation, particularly in Asia including countries like South Korea, Japan and India.

Dongyu said the congress was an opportunity to make further commitment toward achieving the 2030 deforestation-free world in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

By Usman Aliyu

Source: Enviro News Nigeria

 

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