TotalEnergies lambasted for Africa Cup of Nations sponsorship – should be spending money on climate change disaster relief

  • Following a year characterised by the highest temperatures recorded in history, TotalEnergies has just announced what has been termed as ‘obscene profits’.
  • The French oil and gas giant recorded a $23.2 billion profit in 2023, a staggering four percent increase from 2022.
  • This is, effectively, the highest return in the firm’s history.

Instead of spending its billions to pay just compensation to victims of its destructive activities in Africa, clean up its mess and invest in clean and sustainable forms of energy, Total has been engaging in greenwashing over the last month, by sponsoring the Africa Cup of Nations. Seizing football for its greenwashing campaign amounts to modern-day deception and an insult to Africans.

The trail of destruction by the French multinational and other oil companies runs far and wide. It has been at the doorstep of even some of the key figures in this tournament, including Nigeria’s heroic goalkeeper Stanley Bobbi ‘Bobo’ Nwabali. Nwabali who happens to come from Egbema, Rivers State, which is a host community of TotalEnergy, recently had their community experience a gas pipeline fire. Total has however remained mute in the face of this issue.

As the world teeters on the point of 1.5 degrees limit of global warming, Total and other oil majors continue to profit from the leading causes of climate change and, as a consequence, worsening what is already a global climate emergency. Total continues to build new oil and gas projects in Africa, more than anywhere else in the world. It describes Africa as the ‘heart of its global strategy’. The continent accounts for 30% of Total’s investments and production.

  • In Uganda and Tanzania, where Total is building the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline, the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline(EACOP), more than 100,000 people will be displaced to pave the way for the pipeline. The project has been defined by unjust and delayed compensation and cases of human rights abuses
  • For EACOP, a $5bn project, Total only paid out USD 28.9 million to ‘Project Affected Persons’ (PAP) in 2022.
  • Cumulatively, Total has paid less than $50m or less than 1 percent of the project’s cost in compensation to 13,168 people displaced by EACOP.
  • Among the displaced families, the majority of them poor farmers, are some who are either yet to find alternative land to eke out a livelihood or the compensation was too little to buy productive land
  • EACOP will destroy key habitats, endanger wildlife and fuel climate change by generating 379 million tonnes of CO2e (MtCO2e) for the full value chain of emissions
  • In Mozambique, TotalEnergies has been accused of stirring up conflict in the already volatile region of Cabo Delgado with its $20 billion gas development project.
  • More than 500 households were displaced from Total’s Afungi project site, denying them access to fishing grounds and cutting them out of their livelihoods
  • In South Africa, Total has received the green light from the government for offshore drilling for oil and gas, despite valid concerns about the impact on marine life and the environment.

Instead of heeding scientific calls to decarbonise, these corporations continue to gas Africa and use massive profits to buy a social licence to pollute dozens of communities. Ironically, this year’s tournament was a testament to the vagaries of the climate crisis for which Total and other oil majors are most responsible – the 2023 AfCON had to be pushed to 2024 due to adverse weather effects.

The winners of AFCON 2024 will pocket US$6.34 million, a significant increase from the US$5 million awarded in 2021. While this reward is handsome, it is a pittance compared to the damage wrought on the continent by climate change, which will undeniably continue to affect sports and athletics development.

Yet Total continues to disregard its bigger responsibility to Africa: to stop its oil and gas operations that destroy the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of poor people and, in effect, future sports stars.

Mohamed Adow, Founder and Director of Power Shift Africa said, “The sponsorship of the Africa Cup of Nations by TotalEnergies is a textbook case of taking away someone’s land and, in return, giving them food rations every harvest season. This is thuggery of the most abhorrent order and for CAF to take money from the French multinational is to validate thievery of the continent’s resources by Western companies. Wherever it has been on the continent, Total has left a horrid imprint of population displacements, human rights violations, and climate change. If anyone has ever needed a reminder of the damage to climate by the oil and gas industry, they need to look no further than Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria, the AFCON finalists and poster child of climate change in Africa. To invite Total to our football extravaganza is, therefore, to invite a stranger to our party to mock us.”

Author: 350.org

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