Africa climate protests

Ugandan climate activists demonstrate in Kampala on September 23, 2022.

(Photo: Hilda F. Nakabuye/X)

Oil Giant's AFCON Sponsorship Denounced as Plot to Set Off Carbon Bombs Across Africa

"As Africans, we need to show TotalEnergies the red card," said one climate campaigner.

As the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament gets set to kick off in Côte d'Ivoire this weekend, Greenpeace on Friday satirically skewered French oil giant TotalEnergies, the event's main sponsor, for "greenwashing" its harmful impacts on the people of Africa and the global climate.

In a cheeky three-minute parody video, Zimbabwean comedian Munashe Chirisa and British writer and performer Jolyon Rubinstein play Total executives "wilfully exploiting AFCON's millions of global viewers to boost its image, while continuing to profit from climate-wrecking fossil fuel extraction across the continent."

"The beautiful game is a chance to show how much we care about Africa, its coastlines, vast forests, and savannas, which sneakily might be hiding some oil we can suck back to Europe," the pair banter. "I mean, if it wasn't for the oil fields we plunder across your splendid continent, we wouldn't have made $6 million every 90 minutes."

"While you Africans have been going through a cost-of-living crisis, we have just recorded our most profitable year yet," they note. "Ka-ching!"

"So what if our industry produces enough oil to fill a stadium every three hours and 37 minutes," they ask. "We spend a tiny percentage of our budget sponsoring AFCON to keep you Africans happy whilst we blow the big bucks on planning massive carbon bombs that will blow up the continent."

The comedians continue: "Yes, the science says we need to stop all new drilling, but our shareholders say 'fuck that, fuck all of that.' Which is why we're the company with the most new oil and gas explorations on the whole African continent."

"You think you've seen droughts, famines, and forced migration? You ain't seen nothin' yet," they promise. "We're committed to turbocharging the climate crisis."

While Africa produces the world's lowest per-capita carbon emissions, the continent is suffering disproportionately during the worsening planetary emergency, with 17 of the 20 countries most threatened by global heating located on the continent of nearly 1.5 billion people.

"It's time to kick TotalEnergies out of our stadiums. Our passion for football runs deep, but so does our love for a clean, healthy Africa."

"Fossil fuels—the lifeblood of climate-wrecking companies like TotalEnergies—are poisoning the lungs of African athletes and soccer fans," Greenpeace Africa oil and gas campaigner Thandile Chinyavanhu said in a statement.

"Science says we must transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy. But Total continues to displace communities for new oil drilling, and spew toxins before shipping massive profits back to Europe," she continued. "Total is turning AFCON from a celebration of African unity into a grotesque greenwashing stunt."

"It's time to kick TotalEnergies out of our stadiums," Chinyavanhu added. "Our passion for football runs deep, but so does our love for a clean, healthy Africa."

Samm Farai Monro, co-founder of the group Kick Polluters Out and creative director of the Magamba Network, a Zimbabwe-based civil society organization, said that "TotalEnergies is guilty of foul play. They like to portray a clean, green image of themselves with their sponsorship of AFCON. But the reality is very different."

"At a time when scientists are telling us to stop any new fossil fuels projects, Total is developing more oil and gas resources in Africa than any other company," Farai Monro added. "As Africans, we need to show TotalEnergies the red card. We love football. We hate pollution!"

Greenpeace accuses Total of "a wave of destruction across the African continent," including the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which, if completed, will transport up to 230,000 barrels a day of crude oil nearly 900 miles from fields in the Lake Albert region of western Uganda to the Tanzanian port city of Tanga on the Indian Ocean.

In addition to exacerbating the climate emergency, EACOP and the related Tilegna oil field development would displace around 100,000 Ugandans and Tanzanians, according to a Human Rights Watch report published last year.

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