A first action organized by the movements Extinction Rebellion Spiritualities and GreenFaith took place on Tuesday in Paris against the mega oil projects that are being developed by the French company TotalEnergies in Uganda and Tanzania. Protesters included environmental activists, religious figures, and believers.
According to an AFP journalist, a group of about thirty people gathered in front of a TotalEnergies gas station in the south of Paris. Their chants included “Deliver us from Total” and “Warm hearts, not pipes.” The Extinction Rebellion Spiritualities group is a subgroup of the larger Extinction Rebellion movement, which is widely recognized for its acts of civil disobedience. GreenFaith is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that was founded in the United States and is interreligious. Its mission is to fight for “climate justice,” and it is backed by religious volunteers.
The demonstrators were against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and the Tilenga oil field project, both of which were being developed in Uganda and Tanzania by Total Energies. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are worried about how these projects will affect the environment, and they have accused the global corporation of taking land without permission.
One of the religious figures present, Rabbi Yeshaya Dalsace, stated that “our traditions and our religions urge us not to remain silent.” Other religious figures present included Pastor Caroline Ingrand-Hoffet, President of the Rassemblement des musulmans de France, Anouar Kbibech, Buddhist Master Olivier Reigen Wang-Genh, and Bishop Marc Stenger. Rabbi Yeshaya Dalsace was also present.
These religious men arrived while carrying an empty casket that was decorated with paintings of African settings. Isabelle, 43, a member of Extinction Rebellion who, like all members of the group, refuses to provide her last name, said, “I’m Catholic, and I believe it’s terrific to see religious figures taking a stand on the difficult issue of the environment.”
Because of its operations in Uganda and Tanzania, TotalEnergies is facing legal action from a number of environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs). On December 7, the firm is scheduled to make an appearance before the Paris Court of Justice to discuss the subject.
The associations are focusing their attention on two enormous projects that are inextricably linked: the Tilenga project, which is a 419-well drilling project in Uganda, of which one third is in the Murchison Falls natural park, and the EACOP (East African Crude Oil Pipeline) project, which is the world’s longest heated oil pipeline and which traverses Tanzania for nearly 1,500 kilometers while passing through a number of protected natural areas.
TotalEnergies responded with a press release that said, “All of the partners involved in the Tilenga and EACOP projects are committed to seeing their respective projects through to completion in a way that puts environmental and biodiversity concerns, as well as the rights of the communities that will be affected, at the forefront of the project and follows the strictest possible international norms.”
The press release goes on to say that these projects “represent a significant obstacle to Uganda’s and Tanzania’s economic progress, and we are doing everything in our power to make them models of openness, shared prosperity, economic and social progress, sustainable development, environmental consciousness, and respect for human rights.”