July 31, 2023

Activists from 350.org and the Ugandan Diaspora march to TotalEnergies US Office to demand they #StopEACOP

New Jersey, U.S. — Today, thousands of Tanzanian farmers face eviction due to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). On Friday, TotalEnergies plainly refused to take responsibility: they covered up all identifying signage on their office in Linden, NJ to hide from accountability and from activists demonstrating outside the office to call on Total to stop EACOP. 

While Total hid, activists from the Ugandan diaspora and from major climate and immigrants’ rights organizations including 350.org, Food and Water Watch NJ, Sierra Club, and Make the Road NJ marched in oppressive heat to say: not only are oil companies like Total causing the extreme heat and other climate impacts we are facing across the globe, but they are actively displacing and disrupting the livelihoods of people in Tanzania and Uganda through EACOP. 

A multinational company based in France, TotalEnergies owns over 62% of EACOP. This US protest is part of an ongoing global movement to pressure companies like Total, and the banks and insurers who back them, to drop the EACOP project. Organizers around the world have pressured dozens of banks not to fund EACOP. 27 major banks, including mega Japanese banks Mitsubishi UFG Financial Group (MUFG)and Sumitomo Matsui Financial Group (SMBC)—previous major financiers to TotalEnergies—have since dropped the controversial project, turning the spotlight to Chinese lenders like ICBC.

Nico Udu-gama, US Partnerships Coordinator for 350.org, said, “African countries like Uganda and Tanzania are being subjected to more of the same forms of exploitation and extractions from the past. While the Global North will procure profits and resources for themselves in the face of the climate catastrophe and wars rich nations themselves caused, the Global South will only see more displacement, poverty and climate collapse. EACOP is a reminder that as our planet burns, powerful transnational elites continue to profit off the backs of the world’s poor, and keep us further from a sustainable and just transition off of fossil fuels.”

Ugandan-American activist Joseph Senyonjo explained how EACOP compounds the dangerous climate impacts happening globally with direct attacks on people’s livelihoods—like evictions along the pipeline route. “This is the hottest month on record. So you can see the impacts of climate change already happening. And in East Africa, on top of these climate impacts, lots of people are also being displaced. In Uganda, farmers depend on their land, but EACOP is stopping them from farming their land. If they’re lucky, maybe they still have their house, but they can’t grow their food. They don’t have water. Total affects all the people in Uganda already, and on July 31st, Total’s actions could lead to thousands more people being displaced in Tanzania too.”

“It’s well-documented that all pipelines leak at some point,” said Senyonjo. “Well, EACOP is being built in Uganda, in a country with few resources, with little technology, with less ability to deal with any leaks. What makes it even worse is that EACOP is going to the Lake Victoria basin, which is projected to affect 40 million people who depend on Lake Victoria, and its rivers and streams, for drinking water. So we say NO to EACOP. And we say NO to Total and its shareholders.” 

Speakers also illuminated connections across regions—like regions of the US that are themselves considered sacrifice zones, and are often lower-income and home to predominantly communities of color. The protest itself took place near a superfund site of 25 years, and high levels of cancer-causing chemicals have been reported in Linden, NJ.

Charlie Kratovil of Food and Water Watch NJ said, “I’m here on behalf of the 70,000 members across NJ to say that Food and Water Watch stands with the Ugandan people in their fight against EACOP. This is an egregious project that we all must stand against. And we can connect the dots to similar fights happening right here in New Jersey.” 

Maxwell Atuhura, Human Rights Defender and Executive Director of Tasha Research Institute Africa, is based in Uganda and is part of a coalition working to Stop EACOP. Atuhura said, “No more profits over people! EACOP highlights the exploitation faced by East African communities. We demand safe, sustainable renewable energy solutions for all. Global North institutions must fund African-led clean energy initiatives, empowering local communities, especially women. Green jobs and climate support can lift millions from poverty and secure Africa’s energy future. Embrace renewable energy – the surest path to safeguard our planet, empower communities, and build a shared, sustainable future for all.”

Total’s scramble to cover their signs and close down the office before Friday’s protest makes clear that they are getting desperate. The climate movement has momentum—but thousands face eviction and billions face devastating climate chaos, so it’s imperative that we keep calling on all shareholders to #StopEACOP, end fossil fuels, and switch to justly-sourced renewable energy.


For more on EACOP go to www.stopeacop.net. To download photos of the protest, click here.