The GTA project is happening in spite of BP’s new push to go green, with commitments on both climate and biodiversity and a role as a partner in Prince Charles’ new Terra Carta initiative, which aims to give “fundamental rights and value to Nature”. The company is expected to play a role in COP26, the climate conference planned for November in Glasgow that is tipped to be the most important since the Paris deal.
But scientists and experts contacted by Unearthed warned that BP’s plans in West Africa could pose risks to the “extremely rich ecosystems” nearby, as well as to the climate.
Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a think-tank based in Nairobi, told Unearthed: “Fossil fuels, including gas, are a major threat to Africa’s food security, water security, public health and will ultimately undermine our livelihoods and development. We can’t excuse a company like BP, which at a time that it seems to be taking climate change more seriously is simultaneously bankrolling a project that may end up having a big impact on Africa’s carbon footprint and future.
“Our continent is incredibly blessed with wind and solar energy resources. The biggest obstacle to Africa’s transition to green energy is finance and investment so these polluters need to help Senegal and Mauritania to leapfrog dirty energy, not lock them into a fossil fuel path.”
In January, a new study by the University of Oxford predicted that renewable energy will account for less than 10% of Africa’s electricity generation in 2030, while total generation will double.
“These findings point to high carbon lock-in risks for Africa,” it argued, “unless a rapid decarbonization shock occurs leading to large-scale cancellation of the fossil fuel plants currently in the pipeline.”
BP promises to cut emissions to net zero by mid-century and to cut oil and gas production by 40% within a decade yet the investment in this project appears to push in the opposite direction, significantly increasing Africa’s regional supply of gas, rather than clean energy. BP also currently has fossil fuel projects in Angola. It has no renewables projects in sub-saharan Africa and no plans for any.