Members of Oilwatch Africa network at a conference on Tuesday, in Lome, Togo, resolved that urgent actions must be taken to save the African continent from being wholly degraded, grabbed and burnt.
Oilwatch Africa declared that global distortions brought about by excessive consumption of fossil fuels and the externalisation of costs to parts of the world that consume less energy and fossil fuels lock in unacceptable injustices must be urgently and openly addressed.
It said that the world must wake up to the fact that at least 80% of known reserves of fossil fuels must be left unburned.
This, Oilwatch said should be the core of climate negotiations if the Planet is not to be burnt on the altar of profiteers who do not care about future generations and other species on the planet.
It called on African governments to reject false solutions to global warming including those pushed though REDD, geo engineering and other strategies that are threatening to elevate the currently intolerable levels of land grabbing to that of a whole continent grab.
According to oil watch, floods, droughts and expanding desertification on the continent are all fed by the world’s continual addiction to fossil fuels.
“Obnoxious activities such as pollution and gas flaring which alarmingly continue in the oil fields of Nigeria, Angola, Algeria and elsewhere must be stopped and energy needs be met with abundant renewable alternatives.” It said.
Oilwatch called on the new government in Nigeria to implement the almost 4 year-old UNEP Report on Ogoni environment and give the people a chance to enjoy a healthy environment.
Africa and Climate impact
Africa is one of the most exposed regions of the world to climate change impacts, with temperature rise at least 50% above global averages.
The meeting declared that Global action to tackle this cannot be based on voluntary independently nationally determined contributions (INDCs) being pursued at the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Food sovereignty and nutrition
The group declared that” with uncontaminated lands and adequate support for local agricultural production, Africa can feed Africans and levels of nutrition can be maintained without resort to commercially and politically driven genetic engineering of our staple crops for enhanced vitamin levels”
It insisted that nutrition cannot be manufactured in laboratories and demanded access to land and security of land tenure for women.
Oilwatch Africa called for stoppage of fossil exploration and other expansion activities on the continent, demanded an audit of already accumulated impacts and full restitution for harm suffered.
Impact of extractive activities
Participants at the conference shared experiences on impacts of extractive activities on their communities and countries.
The conference particularly examined the environmental and socio-economic impacts of oil, gas and coal extraction. The impacts on food production, water pollution and deforestation were discussed as well as the growing trend of land grabbing on the continent.
Oilwatch Africa frowns at the trend where corporate interests and international groupings, such as the G7 and the like, “aims at polluting our biodiversity, grabbing our lands, water and seeds, are being promoted under the banners of Africans being hungry, now being malnourished, stunted and going blind.”
The group described as unacceptable “ploys to destroy our agriculture, subvert our economies, re-colonize the continent and subjugate our peoples”
Fossil fuel dependence
The conference noted that the current level of consumption of fossil fuels was in denial of the demand not to burn 80% of known fossil fuel reserves without raising global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and triggering catastrophic climate change.
According to the conference, “fossil fuel dependence fuels corruption, engenders conflicts and distorts the value base of communities”
Oilwatch Africa members regretted that the false dreams that African countries can build their economies on the extractivist path has unfortunately been bought by African governments.
It said that the rise of new fossil fuel reserves being found and extracted across the continent, has led to lack of respect for pristine areas of high cultural and world heritage value.
The conference noted the serious impact on agriculture by the pollution of lands, salinization of fresh waters and the destruction of fisheries as inimical to the continent’s economy and overall wellbeing and described it as “an extension of the colonial route that saw Africa merely as a source of raw materials and strapped colonial and neo-colonial governments on the treadmill of cash cropping and mineral extraction for export”.