EACOP investment hampering transition

Author: Shadia Nakazibwe. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • EACOP and related oil projects threaten Uganda’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 24.7 percent by 2030...

U ganda recently hosted the 10th East Africa Petroleum Conference and Exhibition, 2023 under the theme “East Africa as a hub for investment in exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources for sustainable Energy and socio-economic development”.
The conference aimed at showcasing the region as a destination of choice for oil and gas investment opportunities. It is notable that African countries have been disproportionately affected by the climate change crisis, according to the February 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. 
The climate crisis has been largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels. When burnt, the oil transported by the EACOP will result in the production of over 34.3 million metric tonnes of carbon per year at peak production.
 African countries, whose citizens will not accrue any meaningful economic or other benefits from the EACOP oil, will bear the brunt of the worsened climate crisis.
Furthermore, Uganda is one of the most vulnerable and least prepared countries to adapt to climate change impacts. 
The 2021 Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative Index listed Uganda as the most vulnerable country to climate change and 49th when it comes to a lack of coping strategies due to oil activities.
Also, the EACOP and related oil projects threaten Uganda’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 24.7 percent by 2030 and this is because oil and gas production would likely hamper energy transition efforts.
Moreover, the EACOP project impacts will not only be felt in Uganda and Tanzania but in Kenya and the DRC as well. 
Lake Victoria is shared by Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania and any impacts on the lake will affect all the aforementioned three East African states. Further, some of the oil that will be transported by the EACOP will be extracted from Lake Albert.
Lake Albert, which is Uganda’s second-largest lake and Africa’s seventh-largest, is shared between Uganda and the DRC. 46 percent of the lake is found in Uganda while 54 percent is found in the DRC. The lake provides employment to millions of fishers in Uganda and the DRC and the lake’s important role including that of providing water to communities in the DRC stands to be compromised because of oil spills.
This poses a threat to citizens of both Uganda and DRC since oil activities in Lake Albert are leading to increasing unemployment in both countries.
Oil exploration activities in Uganda’s protected areas such as Murchison Falls National Park have had negative impacts on biodiversity and community livelihoods. The exploration and opening up of different oil fields have resulted into extensive human wildlife conflicts with the park hosting communities which has led to the increased killing of wild animals hence putting  the tourism industry at risk
In addition, the oil which will be transported by the EACOP will be extracted from Murchison  , one of Uganda’s oldest, largest and second most visited national parks. These protected ecosystems have supported communities through agriculture, fishing, tourism and others since time in memorial. In fact, lakes Victoria and Albert, whose wetlands and watercourses have been affected by the EACOP,  currently provide 82.9 percent  of the fish in Uganda. Further, the fisheries sector earned Uganda $118.6 million between June 2020 and July 2021 , but  the EACOP project puts the sector at risk.
Any economic benefits from the project will be far outweighed by the project’s potential negative impacts on Uganda’s most prosperous green economic sectors.
I, therefore ,call upon the government together with Export Credit Agencies (EACs) to stop any plans of proving the financing of the EACOP and other associated fossil fuels and explore the available mix of renewable energy resources and ensure Trans vestments towards clean energy.

Shadia Nakazibwe is the programmes assistant at Environment Governance Institute (EGI).