Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Thursday, 23 March 2023
DRC: Climate activists appeal for Pope’s support in ending fossil fuel projects

Silas Isenjia/ :

Climate activists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are seeking Pope Francis’ support in engaging the government to stop plans for oil and gas exploration during his Apostolic Journey to the country.


In a recent report shared with ACI Africa, the activists who have been opposing oil exploration activities in Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest national park, are also concerned about the government’s continued push for fossil fuel projects.


“We appeal to Pope Francis, to engage our government on this very crucial matter, to call for the stop to these fossil fuel projects and the prioritization of renewable energy,” Bonaventure Bondo has been quoted as saying in the report. 


Mr. Bondo adds, "Our protected areas are under threat - from the oil exploration activities in Virunga National Park to the oil and gas blocks that the government is auctioning off in the Congo Basin."


He says that the exploration at the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, "will come at great cost to our environment, wildlife, our communities, and the climate.”


The threats come at a time "when all the signs point to the urgent need to shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, to contain global heating and avert catastrophic climate impacts,” says the climate activist.


The Congolese government gave a go ahead for oil exploration in Virunga in July last year.


On her part, Ashley Kitisya, a campaigner at the  Laudato Si’ Movement in DRC says oil exploration in the Central African nation will lead to climate catastrophes that will mostly affect the poor.


“We, therefore, come together to call for the end of unjust actions to profit a handful of people. Instead, we call for a transition away from fossil fuels and the use of clean, renewable energy that primarily addresses the needs of local communities and economies,” says Ms. Kitisya.


She goes on to underline the need to “develop policies” that will lead to a reduction in pollution emanating from gasses in the future.


“There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gasses can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy,” Ms. Kitisya says.