Kinshasa, 6 December 2019 Greenpeace Africa and a coalition of eight NGOs from the two Congos are calling for the immediate cancellation of all industrial activities in peatlands, including oil exploration, logging and industrial agriculture. The call by the environmental organizations on International Human Rights Day is made in Kinshasa instead of Madrid, after the Spanish embassy denied visas to delegates of GTCRR, an NGO network from the DRC, effectively barring them from attending COP25. [1] 

“Instead of barring civil society from speaking out, the global leaders who have failed to address the climate crisis must listen to the communities that are threatened by it,” said Julien Mathe, coordinator of the NGO GASHE (Groupe d’Action pour Sauver l’Homme et son Environnement) and one of eight delegates who were denied a visa. “The science and local communities are both clear: peatlands must be a no-go zone for industrial activity. It is the minimum step the international community and Congo basin governments must take to address the climate crisis,” Mr. Mathe concluded.  

A position paper on peatlands, originally planned to be shared during COP25, will be presented instead in a press conference in Kinshasa on the 10th of December, International Human Rights Day. The paper calls for the immediate cancellation of all peatland oil blocks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo. In the DRC, oil blocks awarded by the Kabila regime also overlap Salonga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site where local leaders fear the impacts on their communities [3] [4]. 

“Peatlands are thousands-year-old wetlands that store huge amounts of carbon. The world’s largest peatland complex straddles the border between the two Congos and 75% of it is covered by oil blocks,” said Dr. Raoul Monsembula, Greenpeace Central Africa Regional Coordinator. “Global leaders are discussing CO2 emissions in Madrid, while GTCRR’s warning about industrial activity in the peatlands – a 30.6 billion ton carbon bomb – can only be issued 7,550 km away,” Dr. Monsembula exclaimed.

References:

[1] Groupe de Travail Climat REDD Rénové (GTCRR), one of the letters of refusal:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1d3RR9WHTpLLJlj-fnwn2jGCuYnATVxwn

[2] Peatlands position paper: https://storage.googleapis.com/planet4-africa-stateless/2019/12/b2e9da84-peatlands-position-p-engd.pdf

COP25: l’Espagne refuse le visa a une délégation de la société civile congolaise, http://www.environews-rdc.org/2019/12/02/cop25-lespagne-refuse-le-visa-a-une-delegation-de-la-societe-civile-congolaise/

[3] In the Republic of Congo, four peatland oil blocks are currently open for exploration; the status of a fifth is unclear. Three others are currently up for auction. Last August the government announced the discovery of a peatland oil deposit it said could quadruple national production.

[4] Congo Approves Oil Deal That May Encroach on World Heritage Site,

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-26/congo-approves-oil-deal-that-may-encroach-on-world-heritage-site

Contact:

  • Tal Harris, Greenpeace Africa International Communications Coordinator, +221-774643195, [email protected]
  • Julien Mathe, coordinator of GASHE (Groupe d’Action pour Sauver l’Homme et son Environnement), +243858200913
  • Dr. Raoul Monsembula, Greenpeace Africa Central Africa Regional Coordinator, +243-999010900, [email protected]
  • Greenpeace Africa Newsdesk: [email protected]

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