Investors fan the flames of conflict by backing natural gas project that accelerates instability
(This story first appeared in the outlet All Africa.)
JPMorgan Chase is the biggest fossil fuel financier in the world fueling climate chaos – an undisputed fact from the report Banking on Climate Chaos. A new case study and video from Mozambique exposes how this financing also prolongs civil unrest, using unstable situations to force fossil fuel projects. A liquified natural gas (LNG) project by TotalEnergies in the Cabo Delgado region is on pause after armed groups killed dozens of their workers in Palma in 2021. On February 3rd the company’s CEO visited the region to assess whether it can resume the project. At the same time, most displaced people haven’t received the land, money, or safety promised to them since the project started years ago, casting doubt on this statement. The breakdown of civil society enabled by the cash grab makes it difficult to ensure TotalEnergies fulfills its commitments.
The project fits the pattern of energy companies exploiting the global south to pipeline energy and profit to the global north – with full backing from banks like JPMorgan Chase. Those who are at the most vulnerable from the climate crisis and fossil fuel expansion are fighting back to make their voices heard and demand accountability from energy companies and banks.
“It’s tragedy upon tragedy. A huge energy project comes in like this, and greed abolishes human rights. It’s profitable to fight for cash and control. We have limited infrastructure to resolve disputes – whatever TotalEnergies wants, they get. Fossil fuel expansion fuels climate crisis, and this project fuels war. We want our life back, our land and our livelihood. We want peace and to stop this project that only brings misfortunes, death, and war,” said Anabela of Friends of the Earth Mozambique.
In November of 2022, the United Nations Refugee Agency said thousands of people were still fleeing the violence in the area despite increased troop presence from 25 countries. Hundreds of thousands of people are still in need of humanitarian aid. Cataclysmic weather, such as tropical storm Cheneso that displaced 20,000 people and the anticipated cyclone Freddy, stall relief efforts. Environmental advocates believe people who are displaced from energy projects are railroaded into becoming war refugees instead of being compensated or given lands as guaranteed.
“Don’t lock Mozambique into fossil fuels they won’t have access to. Banks should invest in Mozambique’s renewable energy potential and communities should have local energy control,” said Henrieke Butijn from BankTrack. “Renewable investment according to just transition principles interrupt patterns of racist neocolonialism and save the planet. It’s the right thing to do.”