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Vanessa Nakate: "No" to new oil and gas

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

As the annual climate summit gets underway in Egypt, the Ugandan climate activist calls out the European Union's leaders for double standards.

by bird story agency

“Big oil and gas companies are pretending that we need new fossil fuel development in Africa to lift people out of energy poverty. The only way to help lift people out of energy poverty is through distributed renewable energy,” said Vanessa Nakate.

In a recent Twitter thread, the Ugandan climate activist criticised Europe’s growing pressure on Africa to develop new fossil fuel infrastructure as they scramble for alternatives to Russian gas supplies.

European countries have been scrambling to replace Russian gas. Germany is in talks with Senegal, Italy has struck deals with Algeria, Angola, the Republic of Congo, and Mozambique, while the European Union now has agreements with Algeria, Nigeria, Niger, and Egypt.

But Europe’s push for energy from Africa comes against the backdrop of the climate change reality already setting in. Scientists have persistently warned that producing fossil fuels contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which are responsible for a changing climate.

“The scientists are saying we are approaching catastrophic tipping points that threaten vast parts of the world’s population. The International Energy Agency – recently announced that we could have no new fossil fuels if we are to keep global temperatures below 1.5ºC,” Nakate noted

She also quoted the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has repeatedly stated that any new investment in fossil fuels would be “economic and moral madness.” To Nakate, this is a clear signal “that we must have no new oil and gas.”

Vanessa Nakate holding up a placard. (Photo: Vanessa Nakate)

“And people from rich countries – who have long benefited from fossil fuel extraction – still feel they need more coal, oil and gas regardless of what that might mean for people on the frontlines of the climate crisis,” added the 25-year-old.

This, notwithstanding the fact that wealthier nations have not honoured the 2008 Copenhagen pledge to provide $100bn a year to developing countries by 2020.

“Twelve years ago, rich nations made a significant pledge at a UN climate summit in Copenhagen. They promised to channel US$100 billion a year to less wealthy nations by 2020, to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. We are still waiting,” she said.

She explained that many global south countries were considering exploring oil and gas for the first time to help pay the high-interest loans they took out to recover from climate-induced storms, floods and droughts.

And while the activist acknowledged that energy poverty still affected millions in sub-Saharan Africa, with 600 million not having access to electricity. She was adamant that big oil companies would not be the solution.

“The oil and gas that fossil fuel companies want to develop in Africa will not be for Africans. That oil and gas will be loaded onto ships and get shipped to Europe. The profits from that new fossil fuel development will line the pockets of people who are already very rich,” Nakate said.

For the activist, the only solution is renewable energy.

“The only way to help lift people out of energy poverty is through distributed renewable energy. That is the cheapest, fastest way to get energy to people living at the last mile. As we head to #COP27, we must put people and justice at the centre of addressing the climate crisis,” she concluded.


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