12 October 2023
France – South Africa: Nine NGOs call upon the government to condemn TotalEnergies’ dangerous game
12 October 2023
As the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between France and South Africa is due to get underway on Sunday 15 October, television viewers around the world will be smothered with the advertising of official sponsor TotalEnergies, unaware that this irresponsible company is accelerating the unleashing of climate bombs in Africa, and South Africa in particular. Today, nine NGOs(1) are denouncing the masquerade of “public consultation” that has just begun in South Africa regarding TotalEnergies’ exploration and production projects, and are calling on the French government to withdraw its support for the French major company through “Partnerships for a Just Energy Transition”, as well as publicly condemn all TotalEnergies’ investments in new fossil fuel projects.
In total contradiction with IPCC conclusions and recommendations from the International Energy Agency(2), which call for no new coal, oil or gas extraction projects to be developed, TotalEnergies is developing an aggressive expansionist strategy in Africa, and particularly in South Africa, where the multinational wishes to open up new deep offshore gas fields. South Africa’s western and southern coasts are under threat from a series of offshore projects that could be built at depths ranging from 200 to 3,200 meters, threatening biodiversity hotspots, whale migration corridors, artisanal fishing and the coastal economy.
Far from abandoning its deadly investments after a year of mobilization by civil society in France and South Africa, and despite a petition gathering almost 100,000 signatures, TotalEnergies has instead just accelerated the procedures by launching a “public consultation” to develop two huge gas fields in South African waters. On 22 September 2023, South African citizens were presented with an environmental impact assessment of over 3,000 pages, which they are expected to read and comment on within thirty days, with the closing date for consultation set for 25 October 2023. Citizens, scientists, associations and local councilors have been given a mere 30 days in which to express their views on a project that will have a decisive impact on the biosphere. A first reading of the documents submitted for consultation reveals that, in addition to TotalEnergies’ official application to exploit the Luiperd and Brulpadda gas fields, a surprise project has now been added: a new large-scale offshore exploration campaign(3), demonstrating the oil giant’s insatiable voracity for climate-wrecking projects.
Our nine associations(4) have written to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to ask the French government to publicly condemn all new fossil projects led by TotalEnergies, to denounce the anti-democratic processes that accompany fossil expansion projects and to make France’s involvement in “Partnerships for a Just Energy Transition” conditional on the abandonment of investments in new fossil projects, including gas, due to the French government’s stubbornness in presenting gas, a strictly fossil fuel based energy, as a “transition energy” within the framework of the Partnership established with South Africa at COP26 in Glasgow(5).
After a summer that saw the increase of extreme weather phenomena, and with the planet recording a new heat record for the months of September and October, the government cannot allow TotalEnergies to take advantage of the Rugby World Cup and greenwash its dramatic choices for a world whose trajectory, like that of a rugby ball, is already out of whack.
(1) BLOOM, The Green Connection, 350.org, Amis de la Terre France, Chilli, Greenpeace France, Mouvement Laudato Si, Notre affaire à Tous and Surfrider Foundation Europe.
(2) IPCC (2023), Climate change 2023. Synthesis report, B.5.3; IEA (2021) Net Zero by 2050. A roadmap for the global energy sector, Chapter 3.2; IEA (2023) Net Zero Roadmap : A Global Pathway to Keep the 1.5°C Goal in Reach, Chapter 2.2.2.
(3) TEEPSA (2023) Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the offshore production right and environmental autorisation applications for Block 11B/12B. Final Scoping Report. Executive Summary.
(4) BLOOM, The Green Connection, 350.org, Amis de la Terre France, Chilli, Greenpeace France, Mouvement Laudato Si, Notre affaire à Tous and Surfrider Foundation Europe.
(5) Élysée (2022) Just Energy Transition Partnerships in Africa.