Group appeals to African leaders, seek end to fossil fuels’ activities

By Valentine Amanze

African leaders have been called upon to disabuse their minds of the benefits of fossil fuels but examine the devaluation of life due to their addictions.

Participants of the Oil Watch Africa Annual General Meeting which held virtually on August 10, 2020, gave the advice in their communiqué.

At the meeting, which the theme, “We can't breathe – Africa Choking on COVID and Fossil flames, the participants also appealed to African leaders to turn the continent from ruinous pathways that lead to a global petroleum value chain.

They also urged the African leaders to hasten the demise of the identified firms and the replacement of their African collaborators.

They advised corporations and states to halt all new and existing fossil fuels exploration and extractive sites /activities across Africa and remove the knee of the extractive industries from the neck of Africa to give it a chance to breathe.

“African governments should establish climate-resilient and just recovery models, to defend communities, stop destructive extraction and support agroecology, through their leading visionary organisations in civil society.

“The COVID-19 pandemic should not be used as a yardstick to dispense with workers, to oppress citizens, or to victimise activists across Africa.
Government should not use the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to pass developments that will negatively affect the environment and impact upon community's health and well-being without proper and meaningful popular consultation.

“Government should not lower environmental standards, suspend environmental monitoring requirements or reduce environmental enforcement as part of response measures to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the participants further stated in their communiqué..

According to them, African governments should support Annex Zero by recognising and incentivising countries, nations, subnational spaces, localities, and territories that keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Besides, they urged African leaders to pressure the Global North to pay its climate debt, one aspect of which is “our societies' willingness to leave fossil fuels underground.”

The pointed out that a down payment on the Global North's ecological debt to Africa was long overdue, stressing, “within this category we include the greenhouse-gas over consumers of South Africa, other the BRICS countries, and other emerging markets.”

They further stated that a just transitioning away from fossil fuels and equitably phasing out coal, oil and gas extraction be made a fundamental part of the plan for African nations' economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic.
The communique ended on this note: "We now know we owe our continent a chance to heal the terrible state of economy-society-nature relations, so that COVID-19 and other zoonotic diseases will cease, so that local ecologies recover, and so that climate catastrophe can be averted. We know we have consensus for these values from the rest of the continent, aside from a few corrupted souls. And we know we can and will prevail in bringing our beloved Africa to the necessary post-fossil phase of our individual and collective lives – but only with your guidance and involvement, dear African citizens.

If we fail, then Black Lives Matter in the USA and Europe, but not in Africa?"

The AGM was attended by participants from 11 African countries, including Nigeria, Togo, Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, DRC, Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire and Zimbabwe.

The meeting surveyed the devastating impacts of fossil fuels on the continent, both through exploitation and combustion, punctuated this week by the oil spill off the shores of Mauritius, in a Japanese ship whose main purpose is taking iron ore from Brazil to China, in a world economy which already suffers a massive steel glut.

Oilwatch Africa is a network resisting the impacts of fossil fuels industries on people's lives and environments.

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