In South Africa, the French oil and gas major ‘TotalEnergies’ is about to start yet another destructive project despite specific climate experts’ recommendations to steer clear of new fossil fuel investments.
On 5 September 2022, TotalEnergies applied for a production license to exploit two major gas fields, with up to one billion barrels of oil equivalent, off the South African’s southern coast.
TotalEnergies plans to invest around $3billion to launch operations in South Africa’s waters in areas of spectacular marine biodiversity and at the expense of wildlife and of small-scale fishers’ livelihoods.
Yesterday, two Goldman Prize winners, Liziwe McDaid (The Green Connection – South Africa) and Claire Nouvian (BLOOM – France) came together to launch the #OceanTotalDestruction campaign and call on TotalEnergies to renounce its harmful offshore oil and gas projects in South Africa and make a responsible announcement before COP27.
At a press conference held in Paris, BLOOM, The Green Connection and South African small-scale fishers were supported by Members of the French National Assembly (François Ruffin) and of the European Parliament (Raphaël Glucksmann – S&D, and Karima Delli – the Greens) and by French activist Camille Etienne. All called on TotalEnergies to leave South Africa’s waters.
On 5 April 2022, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed that “investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”
As the climate breakdown and the mass extinction of animal species threaten humanity’s welfare, the Goldman Prize winners McDaid and Nouvian add that the TotalEnergies’ project in South Africa is a conceptual fraud that tries to portray a switch from coal to gas as a ‘green energy transition.’ In July 2021, the International Energy Agency stressed that “beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway.”
Liziwe McDaid, Strategic Lead at The Green Connection says, “Exploitation of oil and gas in our oceans is incompatible with South Africa’s climate ambitions. Despite abundant solar and wind resources, our oceans are under threat from oil companies like Total, who seem hellbent on ignoring the climate crisis in their determination to extract their last fossil profits. In 2021, Total withdrew their exploration attempt. Why are they back? Given gas shortages in Europe, it seems that it can only be to add to their profits, but coastal fishing communities don’t benefit from oil profits, and they bear the brunt of disasters like oil spills.”
After years of greenwashing and of creation of doubt to delay climate awareness and action, TotalEnergies has now moved on to a new phase of stubborn ignorance of such clear guidelines and IPCC recommendations. Claire Nouvian of BLOOM says, “TotalEnergies has become the face of evil in the 21st Century. Its obsession for profit is putting humanity at risk. Such irresponsible corporations have to be stopped by citizens. We call on everyone around the globe to sign our petition against TotalEnergies’ destructive projects in South Africa. We need a maximum amount of citizen pressure before the upcoming 27th Climate COP in Egypt for Total to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”
The oil and gas French major is knowingly developing its exploitation project in an area of strong currents and spectacular biodiversity, which serves as a “blue corridor” as well as feeding or nesting grounds for thousands of whales, seals, penguins, petrels, albatrosses, endangered leatherback turtles, and fish populations such as snoek (a member of the mackerel family) or yellowtail fish, which lie at the heart of the small-scale fishers’ economy.
Christian Adams, small-scale fisher on the west coast, whose family has been fishing for generations, says, “Fishers all along the coast of South Africa are standing up against these oil companies. Our livelihoods are at stake, and we call on the French people to support us. The ocean is in our blood, and we believe that oil and gas exploration is incompatible with sustainable fishing for the future.”