DRC opens park for oil, gas permits

29 Jul, 2022 - 00:07 0 Views
DRC opens park for oil, gas permits President Félix Tshisekedi

The Herald

KINSHASA. – The Democratic Republic of the Congo has announced it will auction oil and gas permits in critically endangered gorilla habitat and the world’s largest tropical peatlands next week. The sale raises concerns about the credibility of a forest protection deal signed with the country by Boris Johnson at Cop26.

On Monday, hydrocarbons minister Didier Budimbu said the DRC was expanding an auction of oil exploration blocks to include two sites that overlap with Virunga national park, a Unesco world heritage site home to Earth’s last remaining mountain gorillas.

The planned sale already included permits in the Cuvette Centrale tropical peatlands in the north-west of the country, which store the equivalent to three years’ global emissions from fossil fuels.

The Congo basin is the only major rainforest that sucks in more carbon than it emits and experts have described it as the worst place in the world to explore for fossil fuels.

Environmental groups have urged the leading fossil fuel companies to sit out the auction and said president Felix Tshisekedi, who signed a US$500m deal to protect the forest with Boris Johnson on the first day of Cop26 last year, should cancel the sale. The Congo basin rainforest spans six countries and regulates rainfall as far away as Egypt.

Budimbu acknowledged environmental concerns but defended his country’s right to exploits its natural resources. He said revenue from the oil and gas projects was needed to protect the Congo basin forest and to economically develop the country. – Guardian

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