On the 9th of August 2021, Oilwatch Africa convened a webinar and virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM), coinciding with the release of the report of the current state of the climate, including how it is changing and the role of human influence by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The AGM which consists of organizations, networks and community resistance groups from Africa and around the world deliberated on alarming climate impacts facing the continent. These include floods , droughts causing desertification, loss of critical habitats and species, reduced land productivity and limited access to water, as well as how these impacts can be addressed. For decades, Oilwatch Africa has been in the forefront of tracking these impacts, especially in the context of extraction which drives it, and the colonial global dependence on dirty energy and comprador politics which sustains and exacerbates it.
The webinar with the theme “The nexus between climate justice and socio-economic justice; What does this look like for Africa?” explored historical injustices occasioned by the climate crisis and strategies to address the known and emerging impacts of climate change. Discussants at the webinar also explored frameworks to respond to the continued expansion of oil, gas and coal extraction. Some of the highlights from the discussions include:
- Socio-economic injustices promote the elimination of the commons and break social relations with land.
- Colonialism promoted exploitative extractivism and disrupted the African development pathways anchored on a strong connection with ecosystems.
- The disruption of the system can best be achieved through people driven democratisation processes with full gender and social inclusion.
- Africa needs a clear vision of the just transition and there must be an understanding that because there will be different meanings and realities, a decentralized approach that will not undermine the support systems of the planet must be adopted.
- The pursuit of alternative energy must not be predicated on reckless extraction of resources from the continent. A reimagining of a new energy system is required to replace the current one.
- Tackling climate change must go beyond energy transition and include the promotion of agroecology and food sovereignty.
- The people most affected by climate change impacts are the one who did the least to bring about the catastrophe.
- An economic framework with the Global North that seeks to address ecological debt on the continent should be adopted.
- Transition is inevitable, however, this can happen without justice. All stakeholders must therefore ensure that transition does not only happen, but that it is just.
The discussions culminated in the following declaration as supported by those in attendance; the ASSEMBLY:
NOTING WITH CONCERN the devastating local, regional and global impacts of climate change, which disproportionately affect local communities, indigenous people, women, and youth;
FURTHER NOTING WITH concern the disconnect between climate realities and the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs);
OILWATCH AFRICA, STRESSES the need for polluting nations to drastically cut emissions at source;
CONDEMNS the continued and deliberate proliferation of coal, oil, and gas in Africa due to its debilitating impacts on the climate, livelihoods, public health and the environment;
- On African governments to promote and fast track the just transition process with a clear understanding of the class implications of access, ownership and control of energy systems.
- On African governments to acknowledge that the nexus of colonialism as it involves the process of resource extraction across Africa for centuries must be halted, and leaders must wean themselves from dependence on neo-colonial power structures.
- For a comprehensive overhaul of defective socio-economic systems to erase inequalities and build an Africa where justice, equity and equality reign. Oilwatch Africa views the recent disturbances in South Africa and Swaziland and the violent conflicts in Mozambique and Nigeria as symptoms of larger underlying systemic defects on the continent.
- On African leaders to stop or halt all forms of fossil fuel extraction and exploration for new ones in Africa.
- A halt in the search for petroleum resources in the Okavango Basin and the frontier basins in Nigeria
- On Multilateral financial institutions: to stop funding fossil fuel infrastructure, extraction and exploration processes across Africa.
- On the international community: to halt the continued dependence on fossil fuels.The report of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) shows the dire situation that Africa faces, with increased prospects of droughts, cyclones, heatwaves, floods, and other related catastrophes. Oilwatch Africa notes the inbuilt injustice for the continent in a crisis to which it has not contributed.
- On territories and nations: to keep all fossils in the ground. Oilwatch Africa rejects IPCC’s proposal for carbon removal and Net-Zero scenarios as a means of tackling climate change.
- African governments to ensure that the extraction of minerals for renewable energy equipment is not allowed to start a new cycle of exploitation, despoliation, and dispossession in Africa.
- African governments to invest in, and promote agroecology, food sovereignty, seed democracy and support our smallholder farmers, fishers and pastoralists who produce the bulk of our foods.
- Transnational Corporations/Multinationals and African governments to stop criminalising the defenders of people’s and environmental rights. The civic space is continuously shrinking through all forms of intimidation, especially kidnapping, arrest and killing of activists defending environmental and people’s rights amidst coal, oil and gas extraction projects.
Adopted on the 9th of August 2021, by Oilwatch Africa members and organisations:
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- FishNet Alliance
- Green Alliance Nigeria
- Host Communities Network, Nigeria
- North Africa Environmental Justice Network
- Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria
- Kebetkache Women Development Centre
- Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN)