TotalEnergies will destroy our livelihoods say small scale fishers

South African fishers joined a picket outside the company’s AGM in France last week

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The Green Connection and small-scale fishers picketed outside the TotalEnergies annual general meeting in Paris, France, calling on the company to stop their oil and gas exploration in South Africa. From the left: Liz McDaid, Lisa Makaula, Darlin McQuin and Sifiso Ntsunguzi. Photo supplied.

Small-scale fishers have said that they don’t want TotalEnergies’ oil and gas exploration off the South African coasts. Fishers joined environmental civil society organisation Green Connection in France last week to picket outside TotalEnergies’ Annual General Meeting at the Palais des Congrès in Paris.

Returning from the picket, Sifiso Ntsunguzi, a small-scale fisher from Port St. Johns in the Eastern Cape, says TotalEnergies oil and gas exploration will destroy their livelihoods.

“We will lose all our fish we get for ourselves and to feed our families,” he said.

Life has already become harder in Port St. Johns following heavy flooding which left many people homeless last year.

“Everything was demolished, the town was flooded. Homes were flooded. Roads were washed away. The mountain pass washed down. It has had a big impact,” said Ntsunguzi. He believes the flooding was worsened by climate change.

TotalEnergies’ exploration plans include offshore sites between Cape Town and Cape Agulhas (Block 5/6/7), on the West Coast between Kleinsee and Saldanha Bay in the Deep Water Orange Basin, and also off the South-West Coast between Mossel Bay and Cape St. Francis in the Eastern Cape. In March, it acquired stakes in Block 3B/4B close to the Deep Water Orange Basin, expanding its presence on the West Coast.

The company has committed to reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement – net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but says gas forms part of the just transition as “a transition fuel, in particular as a replacement for coal”, according to its latest climate report. Previously, the company has also said that shifting from coal to gas for electricity generation will halve CO2 emissions and reduce air pollution.

But the Green Connection has called on TotalEnergies to move away from fossil fuels completely, saying that it threatens the livelihoods of fishing communities “whose economic wellbeing is jeopardised” by these projects.

In a statement, Green Connection strategic lead Liziwe McDaid said, “Companies like TotalEnergies must be held accountable and cannot continue prioritising profits over people and the planet.”

The Green Connection, along with environmental organisation Natural Justice, has also taken the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment, and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy to the Western Cape High Court over environmental authorisation granted to TotalEnergies for exploration between Cape Town and Cape Agulhas.

TotalEnergies acknowledged GroundUp’s queries but did not respond.

TOPICS:  Climate change Fishing Mining

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