Home Climate Change TotalEnergies’ Afcon sponsorship: French oil major accused of greenwashing

TotalEnergies’ Afcon sponsorship: French oil major accused of greenwashing

While world leaders agreed at last year’s COP28 to shift away from fossil fuels – the main driver of climate change – TotalEnergies has continued to pursue several oil projects across the continent

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Nwabali who happens to come from Egbema, Rivers State, which is a host community of TotalEnergies, recently had their community experience a gas pipeline fire
Nwabali who happens to come from Egbema, Rivers State, which is a host community of TotalEnergies, recently had their community experience a gas pipeline fire

French oil major TotalEnergies has been accused by climate campaigners of greenwashing by sponsoring the Africa Cup of Nations, which is taking place in Ivory Coast.

“The sponsorship of the Africa Cup of Nations by TotalEnergies is a textbook case of taking away someone’s land and, in return, giving them food rations every harvest season,” said Mohamed Adow, Founder and Director of PowerShift Africa.

He added: “If anyone has ever needed a reminder of the damage to climate by the oil and gas industry, they need to look no further than Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria, the AFCON finalists and poster child of climate change in Africa. To invite Total to our football extravaganza is, therefore, to invite a stranger to our party to mock us.”

While world leaders agreed at last year’s COP28 to shift away from fossil fuels – the main driver of climate change – TotalEnergies has continued to pursue several oil projects across the continent, more than elsewhere in the world.

World breached the 1.5C global warming in 2023

Following a year characterised by the highest temperatures recorded in history. In 2023, the world breached the 1.5 C global warming across the entire year. The 2015 Paris Agreement’s target was to keep temperature levels within 1.5 C, seen as crucial to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, of which Africa is affected disproportionately.

The African continent accounts for 30 of Total’s investments and production, and its project in Africa include the controversial East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which is planned to run from Hoima in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga.

Spanning 1,443 kilometres, Eacop will be the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline, activists say that the project will destroy key habitats, endanger wildlife and fuel climate change by generating 379 million tonnes of CO2e (MtCO2e) for the full value chain of emissions.

It’s also estimated that more than 100,000 people will be displaced to pave the way for the pipeline. The project has been defined by unjust and delayed compensation and cases of human rights abuses.

For EACOP, a $5bn project, Total only paid out USD 28.9 million to ‘Project Affected Persons’ (PAP) in 2022. Cumulatively, Total has paid less than $50m or less than 1 percent of the project’s cost in compensation to 13,168 people displaced by EACOP.

While world leaders agreed at last year’s COP28 to shift away from fossil fuels – the main driver of climate change – TotalEnergies has continued to pursue several oil projects across the continent
While world leaders agreed at last year’s COP28 to shift away from fossil fuels – the main driver of climate change – TotalEnergies has continued to pursue several oil projects across the continent

Among the displaced families, the majority of them poor farmers, are some who are either yet to find alternative land to eke out a livelihood or the compensation was too little to buy productive land

For EACOP, a $5bn project, Total only paid out USD 28.9 million to ‘Project Affected Persons’ (PAP) in 2022. Cumulatively, Total has paid less than $50m or less than 1 percent of the project’s cost in compensation to 13,168 people displaced by EACOP.

In Mozambique, TotalEnergies has been accused of stirring up conflict in the already volatile region of Cabo Delgado with its $20 billion gas development project.

More than 500 households were displaced from Total’s Afungi project site, denying them access to fishing grounds and cutting them out of their livelihoods

In South Africa, Total has received the green light from the government for offshore drilling for oil and gas, despite valid concerns about the impact on marine life and the environment.

TotalEnergies’ staggering profits

The French oil and gas giant recently announced a $23.2 billion profit in 2023, a staggering four percent increase from 2022. This is, effectively, the highest return in the firm’s history.

350.org, a global grassroots climate change movement, said in a statement that TotalEnergies should be spending its billions to pay just compensation to victims of its destructive activities in Africa, clean up its mess and invest in clean and sustainable forms of energy.

“The trail of destruction by the French multinational and other oil companies runs far and wide. It has been at the doorstep of even some of the key figures in this tournament, including Nigeria’s heroic goalkeeper Stanley Bobbi ‘Bobo’ Nwabali.

“Nwabali who happens to come from Egbema, Rivers State, which is a host community of TotalEnergies, recently had their community experience a gas pipeline fire. Total has however remained mute in the face of this issue,” 350,org said in a press release on February 9.

‘Beginning of the company’s exit from the continent’

Loraine Chiponda, Africa Movement of Movements Building Space said, “On Sunday, two teams will take to the pitch to represent their countries in the final of what is Africa’s most popular sports tournament. Those two countries – Nigeria and the Ivory Coast – are perfect examples of the harm oil and gas has done to Africa. In 2016, Total started to put up an LNG plant in the Ivorian region of Grand Lahou which now faces an imminent threat from rising waters and increased storms.

“We all know what fossil fuel extraction has done to the Niger Delta. Yet, Total has no qualms in sponsoring a tournament meant to bring the African people together. We hope that when the final whistle blows on Sunday, it will mark the end of Total’s greenwashing agenda in Africa, and a beginning of the company’s exit from the continent.”

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