A fisherman with his family on the shores of Lake Albert in Uganda, where the proposed East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline will run to connect to Tanzania's export terminal in Tanga. Photo by: Tim Cocks / Reuters

A group of 263 civil society organizations has called on banks to stop financing and facilitating the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, a proposed 1,445-kilometer (898 miles) crude oil pipeline from Uganda to Tanzania. In the group’s estimation, the pipeline will “either prove financially unviable or produce unacceptable climate harm,” as well as threatening local communities, water supplies, and biodiversity.

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In an open letter addressed to three banks acting as financial advisers for the project and 22 banks that have recently provided finance to project partners — French oil company Total and Chinese state-owned oil firm China National Offshore Oil Corporation — the group of organizations detailed the potential harmful effects of the project.

Signatories to the letter include organizations from 49 countries, including 122 African-based organizations and 84 organizations from affected countries — Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Why it matters: According to the letter, the project will fuel climate change by transporting oil that will generate over 34 million tons of carbon emissions each year — more than the current annual emissions of Uganda and Tanzania combined.

In addition, the coalition also said that the pipeline would have negative impacts on communities and rights as roughly 14,000 households in Uganda and Tanzania will lose land as a result of the pipeline. Another concern is potential oil spills: One-third of the EACOP will be built in the Lake Victoria basin, a source of water and livelihoods for up to 40 million people.

“It is difficult to conceive of a more dangerous project at a more perilous moment for the planet,” said David Pred, executive director of Inclusive Development International.

What’s next: The final investment decision, which would commit partners to mobilize capital for the project, is expected in the coming weeks. The pipeline is expected to cost around $3.5 billion, $2.5 billion of which will come from financiers.

This focus area, supported by the U.N. Development Programme, explores how climate change and other planetary imbalances impact the rising trend of human inequality and vice versa. Visit the Focus on: People and the Planet page for more.

About the author

  • Rumbi Chakamba

    Rumbi Chakamba is an Associate Editor at Devex based in Botswana, who has worked with regional and international publications including News Deeply, The Zambezian, Outriders Network, and Global Sisters Report. She holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of South Africa.

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