By Spy Uganda
Political leaders in Uganda and Tanzania have reacted furiously to a European Parliament resolution adopted last week that called for “an end to the extractive activities in protected and sensitive ecosystems, including the shores of Lake Albert”, which forms part of the planned East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline.
The resolution backed by MEPs also called for “maximum pressure” to be exerted on the $3.4 billion project, whose backers are led by French oil and gas giant TotalEnergies and China’s CNOOC International, plus Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) and Tanzania Petroleum Development.
The demand “represents the highest level of neo-colonialism and imperialism against the sovereignty of Uganda and Tanzania”, retorted Thomas Tayebwa, the deputy speaker of Uganda’s National Assembly.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, meanwhile, commented that the European Parliament’s move was “a wrong battleground for them. We don’t take kindly to arrogance”.
“So the plan will be implemented according to the schedule.”
Tanzania’s ambassador to Belgium and the EU, Jestas Nyamanga, has stated that “the resolution was based on misinformation about some of the facts. We will provide the parliamentary members with the correct facts”.
The row reveals a faultline that could be further exposed at the COP27 climate change summit in Sharm el Sheik.
Leaders in the global South worry that the summit will see rowing back on longstanding commitments made by wealthy countries to provide finance for adaptation and mitigation as well as on carbon emission reductions – all of which will hit their countries hardest.
They also complain that the EU is urging them not to increase fossil fuel extraction while EU member states scramble for alternatives to Russian gas supplies.
The twelve-year-old promise made by wealthy countries to jointly mobilise $100 billion a year by 2020 to finance climate adaptation and mitigation has repeatedly been delayed.
At the UN General Assembly in New York last week, Senegal’s President and African Union chair Macky Sall said climate adaptation funding should be given in global solidarity “in return for efforts made by developing countries to avoid the polluting patterns that have plunged the planet into the current climate emergency”.
Meanwhile, Sall added, “the continent that pollutes the least and lags furthest behind in the industrialisation process should exploit its available resources”.
The presidents of Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda conveyed similar messages at the UN, stressing that they should not be punished for choosing to exploit untapped oil and gas reserves.
However, the African Union has rowed back from explicitly committing the continent to ramping up fossil fuel use and extraction, plans that had been included in a draft position paper.
European Commission Vice-President and Green ‘tsar’ Frans Timmermans played down the idea of African states increasing fossil fuel exploitation at the poorly attended African Climate Adaption summit in Rotterdam earlier in September.
“In the long run, the big opportunity for Africa will be to use this enormous potential of solar and wind, which will go way beyond Africa’s own needs and put that energy into hydrogen or ammonia or other clean fuels,” Timmermans said.