At the Total site, several activists and associations demonstrate their opposition to the EACOP gas pipeline project between Tanzania and Uganda. No strikes this time, no head-on interrogations of the firm’s decision makers. It is through dance and words that the activists present express themselves. Among them are Camille Etienne, Vanessa Nakate and Hilda Nakabouye.
What if art was the best way to be heard by Total? On March 24, at mid-morning, about thirty members of the Minuit 12 collective perform a modern dance choreography on the platform in front of the TotalEnergies tower in the business district of La Défense. Half of the dancers are dressed in gasoline-black suits, their faces streaked with a large smudge of anthracite paint. The rest are dressed in blood red, the color of a Total gas station.
Words are embroidered on their chest “climate killer” (literally “climate killer”). The invective is addressed directly to the initiators of the EACOP project. Like the dancers, several activists and association members are present to demonstrate their opposition to this giant pipeline that will run through Tanzania and Uganda.
“I’m talking to Pouyanna… Amen.”
For everyone, the moment is important. So much so that Martin Kopp, a Protestant environmental theologian, delivered a prayer speech after the dance. “I’m talking to Patrick Pouyanne and Total. In the spirit of Easter, for the sake of heaven and earth, abandon this project … Amen, ”begged a member of the Commonwealth Greenfaith.
Although less witty, the other performances were just as intense. If finally “This will be the largest pipeline ever built”warns French activist Camille Etienne, co-organizer of the event. The construction will stretch for 1,445 kilometers, which roughly corresponds to the Brussels-Madrid distance. Other data: EACOP project also, “100,000 people [déjà] displaced”Belgian eco-activist Adelaide Charlier protests.
EACOP under Lake Victoria
Although the work has not yet begun, EACOP is already making people cringe on both sides of the Mediterranean. To make their concerns heard, Ugandan activists Vanessa Nakate and Hilda Nakabuye went on a trip. Twenties are careful not to deliberately rant around a crowd. But when they pick up the microphone at the end of the dance, the audience is left speechless.
“Many people think that it is possible to extract oil in an environmentally friendly way. We know it’s wrong”recalls Vanessa Nakate, who was named one of the personalities of the year by the American magazine Time. “Without biodiversity, without land, we have nothing. This pipeline is planned to pass under Lake Victoria, the second largest source of fresh water in the world.”, laments Hilda Nakabuye. Her crossed fingers, purple pencil skirt, and yellow snake-print jacket zipped up to the collar are not enough to hide her anxiety.
Beneath the immaculate blue sky, dominated by the fossil operator’s skyscraper, hundreds of people listen to the activists. Some employees of the company even slip among them. One of them does not seem to fully understand the mobilization and commitment of these young people. “No, but why beat Total? Others are much worse … But I understand that you are young. I was an activist with the communists at your age.”, he says to Soraya Fettih, campaign manager for 350 France. For this father of an eight-year-old girl, environmental concerns about the climate are exaggerated.
EACOP, 34 million tons of CO2
Soraya Fettih, she’s protesting the staggering carbon emissions this pipeline will mean. His seventies-inspired round sunglasses with sky blue lenses don’t hide his annoyance. EACOP, “that’s 34 million tons of CO2 per year. This means that we are burying the goals of the Paris Agreement,” she clarifies. According to Carbone 4 data on the carbon footprint of Paris, the annual emissions of this project will be equivalent to those of two arrondissements of the capital.
The young activist adds that Total plans to hold “400 wells, including 130 in Uganda’s oldest and largest natural park. African elephants and giraffes live and are endangered there.”. For Soraya Fettih, Total threatens all of humanity. “The IPCC said in its latest report: there should be no more fossil energy projects. Climate crisis not later. Now. »
“It is very important to apply pressure”
Isabelle L’Heritier, also head of the 350 France campaign, hopes that the EACOP project will be closed. “The tide is changing. Financing mining projects is becoming increasingly difficult, especially after COP26.”, the activist explains. She recently helped organize the construction of a pipeline for the GNL Québec project. The activist claims that “Good mobilization of civil society, everything is possible. Now it is very important to apply pressure.”.
Moreover, to date, Total has not yet had the necessary funding.develop an EACOP. “Thanks to the pressure of the international coalition, fifteen investors refused to support the project. Four insurers, including one French, refuse to provide their guarantee,” says Isabelle L’Heritier. At the same time, in its tower, TotalEnergies hosted its investors to discuss the group’s corporate social responsibility strategy. None of them came to a meeting with activists and did not express their opinion about EACOP.