Proposed offshore gas field in South Africa will ignite ‘carbon bomb’

Environmental groups are calling out French petroleum company TotalEnergies for planning to ignite a ‘carbon bomb’ with two new major offshore gas fields in South Africa.

Now South African civil society organisation The Green Connection and French non-profit BLOOM have launched a new campaign #OceanTotalDestruction calling on TotalEnergies to renounce these plans and make a ‘responsible statement’ before COP27.

They say the $3 billion project would be launched in areas of spectacular marine biodiversity which could hugely impact wildlife, as well as the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen.

Goldman Environmental Prize winners Liziwe McDaid and Claire Nouvian have accused the petroleum company of ‘conceptual fraud’ as TotalEnergies is attempting to portray a switch from coal to gas as a ‘green energy transition.’

In July 2021, the International Energy Agency said there was no room for any more oil and gas projects beyond those committed in 2021 if we are to meet net zero.

Liziwe McDaid, from The Green Connection, said: ‘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.’

McDaid and Nouvian say TotalEnergies is operating with ‘stubborn ignorance’, disregarding recommendations by climate experts and the IPCC.

They also say the French energy firm is knowingly launching the project within a ‘blue corridor’ with strong currents which acts as feeding and nesting grounds for thousands of whales, seals, penguins, petrels, albatrosses and endangered leatherback turtles.

Large amounts of fish also populate the area, including snoek, a member of the mackerel family, and yellowtail fish, which are key to the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen.

Christian Adams, a fisher on the west coast, whose family has been fishing for generations, said: ‘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’.

The environmental groups are calling on citizens to sign their petition and support their efforts to stop TotalEnergies from launching the project.

Claire Nouvian of BLOOM said: ‘TotalEnergies has become the face of evil in the 21st Century. Its obsession for profit is putting humanity at risk.

‘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.’

Recent data has shown that burning the world’s fossil fuel reserves would release over 3.5 trillion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, over seven times the carbon budget remaining for a 1.5°C world.

Photo provided by The Green Connection 


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