The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has approved at the fortieth meeting of the council of ministers last week a plan to auction 16 oil blocks. This action would have cataclysmic consequences for the global climate and local communities. Greenpeace Africa is calling on the Congolese government which is decidedly obstinate in drilling for oil, to revoke this dirty plan in its meeting tomorrow (15 April).
"The auctioning of new oil blocks anywhere is wrong and undermines communities' right to a healthy environment. The plan for big oil companies to trash Congo's most sensitive ecosystems is a historic error that must be scrapped immediately," says Irene Wabiwa Betoko, International Project Leader for the Congo Basin forest for Greenpeace Africa.
The Congolese government convenes every Friday in the form of a ministerial council. Last week, the council largely approved the 2021 proposal by the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and the auctioning of 16 oil blocks, at least nine of which are in the sensitive ecosystem of the Cuvette Centrale.
The science is clear; governments must halve CO2 emissions by the end of the decade and stop development now of any new fossil fuel project. This imperative, as well as DRC's own commitment to become a "solution country" for climate change, is flouted by inviting big oil into the Congo basin forest. The Cuvette Centrale is a complex that is rich in peatlands, biodiversity and, according to 2017 estimates, contains around 30 gigatonnes of carbon, equivalent to 15 years of emissions from the United States.
"Donor countries, which pledged USD 500 million to protect Congo's rainforest during the COP26 in Glasgow, are realizing the extent of chaos that prevails in the management of these forests. They must now address the shady and dirty plans for replacing rainforests and peatlands with oil," Irene Wabiwa added. "Donor countries can support the Congolese government to become a country of solutions rather than a producer of new pollution, by ramping up investments in renewable energy and expanding plans for community-led forest management."