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Religious leaders protest in France over oil pipeline in Uganda, Tanzania

About 80 believers from various religions rallied in France against an oil pipeline in Uganda and Tanzania.

Religious leaders occupied the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor footbridge (VIIe arr, Paris) to urge that TotalEnergies’ ‘dangerous’ oil projects be abandoned immediately.

Two rabbis, two pastors, a Buddhist master and nun, a Jesuit priest, an emeritus bishop, and a Muslim thinker shackled themselves together from one guardrail of the Parisian walkway to the other in the name of their convictions and faith.

The nine religious personalities belong to the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions include Yeshaya Dalsace, rabbi of the Massorti Dor Vador community (Paris); Gabriel Hagai, Orthodox rabbi; Caroline Ingrand-Hoffet, pastor of the Protestant parish of Kolbsheim (Alsace); Olivier Reigen Wang-Genh, Zen Buddhist master, former president and co-president of the Buddhist Union of France.

The rest were Father Marcel Rémon, sj, director of the Center for Social Research and Action (CERAS) and of the Revue Projet, Bishop Marc Stenger, Bishop Emeritus, former Bishop of Troyes, Otto Schaefer, retired pastor of the United Protestant Church of France, Kankyo Tannier, Zen Buddhist nun, international speaker and author, and Ousmane Timera, Muslim thinker.

This is the second nonviolent unlawful action against EACOP for five of them.

Yeshaya Dalsace, Caroline Ingrand-Hoffet, Olivier Reigen Wang-Genh, Marc Stenger, and Kankyo Tannier took part in an unannounced protest in front of a TotalEnergies station in Paris on November 20.

About seventy believers were also present to support the nine religious figures.

The blockade was intended to protest the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project and the new Tilenga oil field, both of which are mostly owned by the French multinational TotalEnergies.

It occurred on the eve of TotalEnergies’ Annual General Meeting, which will take place today, Friday, May 26 in Paris.

This is the first time religious figures have stopped a public site in France to protest the EACOP and Tilenga oil projects.

To represent the 1,443 kilometers of future pipeline, believers obstructed pedestrian and bicycle traffic for 1,443 seconds (24 minutes).

Some carried a banner with a black pipeline and large white letters that read: “Dans les tuyaux de Total, coule la mort” (“In Total’s pipes, death flows”), in reference to French poet Guillaume Apollinaire’s famous line, “Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine (“Under the Mirabeau Bridge flows the Seine”).

Another banner stated, “Croyant·es, corps et âme contre EACOP” (“Believers, body and soul against EACOP”), to demonstrate their physical and spiritual dedication to the TotalEnergies project.

Sitting on the ground, other believers held signs stating that “1 x EACOP = 2 x THE SEINE”.

If built, the EACOP pipeline (1443 km) will be nearly twice the length of the Seine river (777 km).

EACOP will be the world’s longest heated pipeline, stretching 1,443 kilometers from Uganda to Tanzania’s port of Tanga. Tilenga will be an oil field with 426 wells, 132 of which will be located in Uganda’s Murchison Falls Natural Park.

Participants in the May 25 demonstration saw these initiatives as immoral and antithetical to their values: TotalEnergies is working to undermine climate justice, human rights, and biodiversity.

They say that by emitting 379 million tons of CO2 equivalent, EACOP and Tilenga will increase climate disruption, to which Uganda and Tanzania are particularly vulnerable.

According to a statement issued by Greenfaith communication manager, Lynet Otieno, the projects are displacing over 100,000 people in Uganda and Tanzania. Their reimbursement has been delayed, inadequate, and insufficient. The local opposition is being crushed.

“The EACOP pipeline must cross many rich and fragile ecosystems. Tilenga’s operation in the Murchison Falls Nature Park endangers endangered species and is already causing permanent alteration of the park.

With these projects, TotalEnergies is directly contradicting the scientific data of the IPCC and the studies of the International Energy Agency (IEA), according to which zero fossil fuel projects should be developed after 2021,” the statement said.

On May 7, 2023, a group of 188 scientists and experts demanded in Le Monde that “TotalEnergies shareholders vote against the firm’s climate strategy,” criticizing the “carbon bomb” that EACOP symbolizes.

At TotalEnergies’ Annual General Meeting, shareholders will be asked to vote on the company’s climate change strategy, which still does not call for a halt to the development of new fossil fuel projects.

Source: Ghana News

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