Over 400 activists, environmental, climate justice and human rights organisations in South Africa gathered outside the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg to stage a protest targeting the Chinese delegation at the BRICS Summit.
The demonstration was aimed at calling on China to immediately cease financing all new fossil fuel developments and extractive projects in Africa that undermine global climate goals and which cause irreparable harm to local communities. Protestors specifically targeted the China-backed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Uganda and Tanzania, the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone in South Africa, the Hwange coal-related projects in Zimbabwe, and the Cabo Delgado gas projects in Mozambique. These projects are incompatible with China’s climate action and cooperation pledges to global south countries.
The demonstration in Johannesburg was bolstered by the hundreds of activists CSOs and CBOs from across the African continent (including in Uganda, Tanzania, the DRC, and Kenya, to name a few) who took to twitter under the hashtags #StopEACOP #EndFossilFuelFinancing and #BRICSProtest to add their voices to the calls on China to withdraw its involvement in all new fossil fuel projects in Africa.
The protest follows China’s signing of a climate declaration with Africa in 2021, where it pledged no new coal projects abroad and greater support for adaptation. Destructive projects like EACOP contradict these promises entirely. Activists say they will continue escalating pressure until China stops bankrolling fossil fuel expansion in Africa. Instead, China must prove itself as a true friend to the continent by making a dramatic and practical shift toward the rapid and widespread development of renewable energy alternatives which promote sustainable and lasting job opportunities, far-reaching energy access and socio-economic and environmental well-being for communities across the continent.
“Projects like EACOP show China’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality. A true friend to Africa would not fund projects which displace communities, unravel livelihoods and destroy ecosystems. We want real friends, real developmental partners and real solutions – Africans should not have to suffer through another epoch of careless extraction and exploitation. We are here to assert the potential and need for Africa to lead the renewable energy revolution.” said Zaki Mamdoo, StopEACOP Coordinator, to reporters at the summit.
“China has the opportunity to step up and be the partner it claims to be to African nations by ending fossil fuel projects like EACOP once and for all. Our livelihoods and shared future are at stake. It’s time for China to stand with African people by stopping the continued flow of finance to these harmful projects that enrich profit-hungry fossil fuel companies, and instead redirecting financing towards a sustainable and climate-compatible energy future built on renewables.” said Charity Migwi, Africa Regional Campaigner at 350.org
“The BRICS countries must keep to their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We urge all to abandon any fossil fuel projects planned so they may meet the targeted carbon neutrality by 2050.” Said Makoma Lekalakala, Director at Earthlife Africa
“In Africa, the climate emergency is not a distant threat – it is a relentless reality that challenges the very essence of life on this continent. The scorching sunsets and diminishing rivers are not just visuals; they are urgent calls for united action, echoing across the vast landscapes, reminding us that the time for change is now, before the heartbeat of Africa’s ecosystems fades into silence. Projects such as EACOP continue to trap Africa in a cycle of need, want and fear. There is an urgent need to stop the project if we believe in human rights, development and climate justice in Africa. We need a transformative, people-led process involving rapid social, economic, institutional change to address the continent’s energy needs and the EACOP project undermines that”. Said Bhekumuzi Dean Behebhe from the Don’t Gas Africa Campaign
#StopEACOP Digital and Communications Associate
Senior Communications Officer, AFIEGO
Anabela Lemos, Director Justiça Ambiental (JA!)/Friends of the Earth Mozambique
Ilham Rawoot, Coordinator of the international work of Say No to Gas!
Campaign, Justiça Ambiental (JA!)/Friends of the Earth Mozambique