New Maps Show The Congo Basin is the Epicenter of Oil and Gas Expansion Threats to Tropical Forests
November 10, 2022
RFUK & Earth InSight have just released a new report, Congo in the Crosshairs, showing how oil and gas expansion in the Congo Basin is a rapidly accelerating existential threat to the global climate, and to the world’s second largest rainforest - along with the tens of millions of people who live there.
A comprehensive mapping and analysis of oil and gas blocks in Africa and within the Congo Basin show that:
- Despite the need to end oil and gas expansion globally, the area of land allocated to oil and gas production on the African continent is set to quadruple.
- Oil and gas exploration blocks overlap 30% of dense tropical forests in Africa, of which 90% are in the Congo Basin.
- In the Congo Basin, over 180 million hectares of dense tropical forests still remain and over 35% of these critical forests, or 64 million hectares (an area nearly twice the size of Germany), now overlap with existing or planned oil and gas blocks.
- Over 150 distinct ethnic groups call the Congo Basin home and over 35 million people, or 20% of populated places in Congo Basin countries, are now in existing or designated oil and gas blocks.
- A close examination of oil development that has already occurred in the DRC and also in Nigeria reveals disastrous impacts on the health, livelihoods and human rights of local communities and is a cautionary tale for the Congo Basin.
- There is still time for African nations and the international community to chart a different path that advances economic well-being while protecting critical forests and the communities that depend on them. Key investments include unlocking the continent’s vast potential in renewables and scaling up direct support to forest communities and other frontline forest defenders.
The current exploitation plans for oil and gas in DRC’s forests would have major implications for global efforts to limit global warming to within the threshold of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Yet DRC’s international partners have so far fallen short on addressing the threat to this vital carbon sink. There is still time for African nations and the international community to chart a different path, but meaningful action must be taken now if there’s any hope of protecting critical forests and the communities that depend on them.
“We must not let a chaotic expansion of fossil fuels in the Congo Basin risk our precious tropical forests, biodiversity hotspots such as the Virunga National Park and the rights and livelihoods of forest communities who are already feeling the impacts of climate change. With its vast potential in renewable energies, DRC can lead the way to a prosperous green future.” - François BILOKO, General Secretary of Réseau CREF, a leading environmental network in DRC.