Home General Climate activists resist oil exploration in DRC, launch ‘Fossil Free Virunga’ film

Climate activists resist oil exploration in DRC, launch ‘Fossil Free Virunga’ film

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Credit: virunganationalparkcong.com

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), climate activists have expressed strong opposition to plans for oil exploration in the Virunga National Park.

In a short film titled ‘Fossil Free Virunga’, released by 350Africa.org across the globe today, the activists expressed their concerns for the environmental impacts, as well as the impact on local communities’ livelihoods, if the oil project is carried out.

The short film, which was launched during a webinar, highlights the dangers oil exploration poses to the national park and nearby local communities.

In addition to the Virunga National Park, Salonga National Park which is the world’s second-biggest tropical rainforest reserve may be auctioned in a new series of oil permits, risking the lives of endangered species, as well as hurting the primary source of income for many locals.

Through this petition, climate activists are appealing for support to bring oil exploration in these vulnerable areas to a stop, in order to avoid the adverse effects on the communities and the environment.

Landry Ninteretse, Africa Managing Director of 350.org said, “Virunga national park is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world.

Any oil activity in the park and its surrounding areas could permanently damage the rich ecosystems and biodiversity of the area and negatively impact hundreds of thousands of community members whose livelihoods depend on the park’s resources and activities.

The government of DR Congo needs to put the environment and the people first, as opposed to furthering the interests of the companies that have been granted permits for exploration.”

In a similar vein, Andre Moliro, a climate activist in DRC said, “The government should act in the interest of its citizens by protecting them and creating opportunities that benefit communities’ livelihoods and preserve the natural resources in the region.

Access to clean energy is an integral part of sustainable development and commitments to mitigate climate change should be driving efforts to develop sources of alternative and renewable energy.”

Justin Mutabesha, climate activist based in Goma, DRC said, “The need to hasten our efforts and support the drive for ecosystem preservation and clean energy access for all is critical.

It should therefore be the government’s priority to ensure that no oil exploration or pollution occurs in Virunga and to accelerate sustainable livelihoods for the people and rich ecosystems of the area.”

Between 2005 – 2010, the Congolese government through the Ministry of Hydrocarbons approved licenses for oil concessions to foreign fossil fuel companies like Efora, Total, Socco, and Dominion Petroleum to explore and operate seismic tests Between 2005 – 2010.

This move is a violation of the Ordinance-Law 69-041 of August 22, 1969, on nature conservation and international conventions ratified by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).