A French petroleum company has displaced over 400 Congolese farmers as part of a move to “reforest” 40,000 hectares of land in the Lefini land reserve of the Batéké savannah, according to a December 2022 report by SourceMaterial.
SourceMaterial and Mediapart, both local investigative journalism outlets, interviewed local farmers who told reporters “they were paid as little as $1 a hectare to give the land up against their will.” The tree initiative, funded by TotalEnergies, worries Myrto Tilianaki, climate justice advocacy officer at CCFD-Terre Solidaire, who told Mongabay, “I’m very concerned that if this model is replicated, it will present huge risks for food security and livelihoods.”
The local farmers play a major role in providing food not only for their families but also for the entire community. If this trend continues, there could be a serious nutrition issue in Africa and Latin America. Even worse, the tree initiative by TotalEnergies has not been proven to be effective. Jutta Kill, a biologist who advises the World Rainforest Movement, said in an interview with SourceMaterial that “there is no credible carbon offset project. They all claim to compensate for real emissions that are measurable and verifiable based on a story of what might happen.”
TotalEnergies is also stationed in the Republic of the Congo to extract oil and many other natural resources. This harms the environment and is doing major damage to the ecosystem in the Congo.
There has been no discussion by the corporate news of TotalEnergies and the Republic of the Congo. Further, there are no large corporate media news sources in the Republic of the Congo, which makes the story even harder to track. SourceMaterial’s reporting was later covered by UK-based SkyNews and cited in a January 2023 report by Corpwatch.
Ashoka Mukpo, “At a Plantation in Central Africa, Big Oil Tries to Go Net-Zero,” Mongabay, January 20, 2022.
Pratap Chatterjee, “TotalEnergies Carbon Offset Scheme in the Congo Displacing Local Farmers,” CorpWatch, January 23, 2023.
“Total’s Congo Offsetting Project ‘Snatched Our Land,’” SourceMaterial, December 12, 2022.
Student Researcher: Santo Carroccia (Drew University)
Faculty Evaluator: Lisa Lynch (Drew University)