November 18 2020 – Today, several organisations have released a new briefing about the risks that banks and investors would face should they decide to support Total’s EACOP pipeline project in Africa. Reclaim Finance agrees with the authors of the briefing that these risks cannot be sufficiently mitigated and calls on banks not to finance the project. Reclaim Finance sees this project as illustrating Total’s unwillingness to align itself on a 1.5°C trajectory. Financial players committed to achieving this goal should, therefore make their financial services conditional on Total abandoning the project.

If completed, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (1) will be the longest heated crude oil pipeline, stretching 1,445 kilometres from the Hoima refinery in Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania. The construction of the pipeline is essential for the exploitation of newly discovered reserves in the Great Lakes region. Of the 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil, Total intends to produce around 200,000 barrels per day from its Tilenga project found in and around the protected Murchison Falls Natural Park.

Destroying wildlife, accelerating climate catastrophe and deforestation, this project threatens many protected environments, forests, wetlands and mangroves as well as the livelihoods of local communities. Tens of thousands of people are already seeing their land taken away and their rights violated. Total’s pressure and intimidation to silence those who dare to protest have even prompted the intervention of several UN Special Rapporteurs.

“This project is not inevitable and can still be prevented. The briefing published today draws a most relevant parallel between EACOP and the Dakota Access Pipeline, whose financing by 17 banks aroused the ire of the international community in 2016. If they want to avoid being embroiled in yet another scandal, these banks must commit not to take part in the $2.5 billion project financing expected by the end of the year (2),” said Lucie Pinson, founder and director of Reclaim Finance.

In France, Total has been sued by Friends of the Earth, Survival, and Ugandan organisations under the “Duty of Vigilance” law for breach of its legal obligations to prevent human rights violations and environmental damage. Now, it is financial actors’ turn to be questioned about their responsibility. The briefing by BankTrack, AFIEGO, BothENDS, Just Share and Inclusive Development International provides banks, as well as investors from Total and other companies involved, with a list of questions to help them better understand the multiple risks associated with the project.

“The 1.5°C ambition affirmed by Total flies in the face of the realities of the projects still being pursued by Total. EACOP will contribute to the opening of new reserves, which is intrinsically incompatible with any transition, and downstream, to CO2 emissions estimated at more than 33 million tonnes per year, or 19 millions Paris-New York round trip flights. Whether or not they voted for the climate resolution tabled at the Total General Meeting in May 2020, Total’s investor shareholders, like banks and insurers, must immediately make their financial services conditional on the abandonment of the EACOP project and the adoption of real targets for an absolute reduction of its emissions” concludes Lara Cuvelier, Sustainable Investments Campaigner for Reclaim Finance.