Fighting fossil fuels
Fighting fossil fuels
Big Oil is spending a lot of money on new fossil fuel building – more than before. It is building new pipelines, refineries, wells, and rigs across all continents. But protests against the industry are everywhere. Here we can read about four groups saying enough is enough.
Hilda Flavia Nakabuye works with Fridays for Future Uganda
ESTHER RUTH MBABAZI
Manal Shqair is a climate activist and works for the Stop the Wall campaign based in Palestine. He says, ‘Our campaign starts with the idea that the very big gas resources discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean during the last ten years should stay under the ground. Fossil fuels are not the future.’
Palestinian activists are in the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. They are protesting against Israel’s use of the occupation and blockade of Gaza to drill for oil offshore and export gas. They say that Israel is keeping the money from Palestine for the gas transported across and extracted from its waters.
The Mari-B gas platform is 13 nautical miles from the Gaza Strip and the EMG gas pipeline from Israel to Egypt passes at the same distance in areas claimed by the Palestinian Authority. In 2018, Israel asked for 26 oil and gas exploration permits in the Mediterranean, including four in disputed areas. The activists say that the gas is the reason for the ships blockading Gaza. This is stopping Palestinians from using the waters further than six nautical miles away from the shore.
Activists are protesting against the involvement of Global North companies in oil and gas in disputed areas of the Mediterranean, and they are protesting against the EU-funded EuroAsia electricity Interconnector. ‘The European Union says it is against illegal Israeli settlements,’ says Shqair. ‘But it is building the longest underwater electricity cable in the world. This will connect Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank with Europe’s electric grid via Cyprus and Greece.’ Activists say Israel will use it to export gas-powered electricity. At the moment Israel’s largest power station is converting coal to gas.
For campaigners, climate justice and fighting the occupation are linked. ‘We are facing an environmental catastrophe around the world but it is affecting us more and in a different way. Climate injustice is a danger to land and natural resources, particularly water. All these sustain life for Palestinians,’ says Shqair. He also says that Israel controls most of the water in the West Bank and stops it going to the Gaza strip.
Mozambique – Cabo Delgado
In 2010, they discovered the world’s ninth largest gas reserves near Mozambique. European and US companies are driving the three big gas projects in the country’s north in Cabo Delgado. And the gas projects are destroying Cabo Delgado.
The projects are moving hundreds of families away from their homes and the projects have helped to create an Islamic State-linked insurgency there - 4,000 people are dead and over 800,000 people had to move their homes.
JA! Justica Ambiental (Now! Environmental Justice / Friends of the Earth Mozambique) is working with affected communities in the area and getting information to help campaigners in other parts of the world. ‘Nearly all of the companies involved are international,’ says Ilham Rawoot, from the group’s Say No to Gas! campaign. ‘This means most of the lobbying happens in those countries.’
The projects – by Total, ExxonMobil, and Eni – could together create the same as 49 years of Mozambican emissions. The gas is also making the country’s economy worse. The result is that lenders are taking their money away from the projects. This started an economic crisis and caused $11 billion of harm and pushed two million Mozambicans into poverty.
JA! is also working with Friends of the Earth Netherlands on a parliamentary study of funding from Dutch state financier, Atradius. In the UK it worked with campaigning groups to ask for a judicial review of UK Export Finance’s $1 billion support. And it keeps talking to the companies when it goes to their AGMs. ‘It means they can’t say they didn’t know,’ says Rawoot.
Fridays for Future Uganda
Today Fridays for Future Uganda has 53,000 young people working for climate action. Hilda Flavia Nakabuye (see her photo above) is now 24. She started Fridays for Future Uganda as a student in 2019 and then very few people were interested. ‘I got involved when I saw Greta Thunberg and her climate strike outside the Swedish Parliament. Few people here knew about climate change. I saw the droughts, floods, strong winds, and changes in seasons becoming very unpredictable… Crops were dying and it was becoming harder to get water. I decided to do something and tell people about it.’
With the slogan ‘people above profit’, they are now working on stopping the building of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline by Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. ‘They’re planning a 1,445 kilometre pipeline from Hoima, near Lake Alberta in Uganda, to the port of Tanga, Tanzania,’ said Nakabuye. She lives in Kampala, the capital. Heating the pipeline electrically to 50°C to keep oil flowing will make more emissions.
‘For the last four years, they have moved people from the land for the project – 178 villages in Uganda and 231 in Tanzania. That’s 14,000 households moved, their incomes, and livelihoods destroyed.
‘We are using digital spaces, talking to banks and other investors and working with other organizations globally to tell people about this. We are also working with campaigners in other countries, especially in France where Total comes from. It is our responsibility to do something about climate change and this is for future generations.’
India – Ratnagiri refinery
They cancelled a planned $44 billion refinery in India in 2019 after protests from villagers and farmers. The refinery was possibly going to be the world’s biggest.
The Ratnagiri refinery at Nanar, a village 400 kilometres south of Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra, was going to make 1.2 million barrels of oil per day, using crude oil imported from Saudi Arabia. There was also going to be a plastic manufacturing plant next to the refinery.
The project was going to be a partnership of state-run Indian oil companies with Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. But they expected that the project was going to move 22,000 farmers and 5,000 fishers, and destroy 1.4 million mango trees, 600,000 cashew trees, and 200 hectares of rice fields.
After they heard about it 2017, over 2,000 farmers marched in protest to Mumbai’s Azad Maidan square. In Nanar farmers spent days watching the roads and stopping the government from surveying by using sheets of cloth and black umbrellas. One protester, Suryalata Kamble, told the independent-media outlet The Wire that taking away people’s homes and jobs to create more employment and development is the worst kind of human rights violation.
Protests continued in Nanar, Mumbai, and other places. After 14 village councils around Nanar passed resolutions against the project, the regional party Shiv Shena joined the protest. The project was stopped in early 2019.
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(This article is in easier English so it is possible that we changed the words, the text structure, and the quotes.)