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Over 260 organizations are calling on banks to not finance EACOP (East African Crude Oil Pipeline) with a $2.5 billion loan for a “manifestly irresponsible” project. The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is one of the 25 banks nearing a final investment decision on the project. (Materials for this post are sourced from BankTrack.)

In an open letter, organisations from 49 countries, including 122 African-based organisations, detail the immense threats that the 1,445-kilometer-long East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) would pose to local communities, water supplies, and biodiversity in Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.

They also warn that the pipeline – proposed by French oil company Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation – will fuel climate change by transporting oil that will generate over 34 million tons of carbon emissions each year.

The letter to the three banks acting as financial advisors for the project – Standard Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China – and 22 banks that have recently provided finance to Total and CNOOC, comes as speculation mounts that a Final Investment Decision (FID), which would commit Total to mobilize capital for the project, is imminent.

Nearly a third of the pipeline will run through the basin of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria – which more than 40 million people depend on for water and food production. It will also cross more than 200 rivers, run through thousands of farms and cut through vital wildlife reserves.

A sample of supporting comments:

Ryan Brightwell, Researcher and Editor at BankTrack commented: “Banks have been made aware of the tremendous risks posed by this pipeline, and they have been made aware of the groundswell of opposition from communities and civil society locally and internationally. Any bank that chooses to finance the EACOP in the face of this opposition will show itself to be among the most irresponsible in the industry. Banks linked to this project or to its backers need to respond and make clear that they will not get involved.”

Speaking on behalf of AFIEGO, Diana Nabiruma said: “In light of the climate change crisis, many countries have made commitments to clean up their energy systems by promoting renewable energy. Oil companies including Total, the lead proponent of the EACOP project, have increased investment in renewable energy as they realise that this is the energy of the future. Knowing this, why would they seek to saddle Ugandans and Tanzanians with the EACOP? No responsible bank should finance the EACOP project well knowing that the economic, environmental, climate change and social risks of the project are too immense.”

Environmentalist and founder Bill McKibben said: “This project is like something from a completely different era, fifty or seventy-five years ago when we knew nothing about climate change, were still in the grip of colonialism, and didn’t understand that the other species we shared the earth with were beginning to disappear. In 2021, the EACOP is a metaphor for ecological, social, political and humanitarian ignorance.”

You can find more commentary here.

The open letter was launched alongside a new campaign website for the global #StopEACOP coalition – The website will keep track of financial institutions, investors and insurers that have ruled out support for the project and will serve as a campaign hub for further public actions targeting the project’s developers and financial backers.

The open letter can be downloaded here.

A Finance Risk Briefing on the EACOP project from November 2020 can be found here.

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