263 community and NGOs from around the world have urged the CEOs of 25 banks not to fund the construction of a heated crude oil pipeline.

The organizations, from 49 countries, including 122 African-based, listed the immense threats that the 1,445-kilometer-long East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) would pose. The pipeline, they stated, will affect local communities, water supplies, and biodiversity in Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.

They also warn that the pipeline will fuel climate change by transporting oil that will generate over 34 million tons of carbon emissions each year. The project is proposed by French oil company Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

The three banks acting as financial advisors for the project are Standard Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The organizations also wrote to 22 other banks that have recently provided finance to Total and CNOOC.

Nearly a third of the pipeline will run through the basin of Lake Victoria, on which more than 40 million people depend on for water and food production. It will also cross more than 200 rivers, run through thousands of farms and cut through vital wildlife reserves.

The pipeline project is expected to cost around $3.5 billion. Out of this, about $2.5 billion will be borrowed from banks and other financiers. The UK’s Export Credit Agency, UK Export Finance, has also confirmed that it has been approached for a project loan.

Signatories to the open letter include

  • Friends of the Earth International
  • The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development
  • Reclaim Finance
  • Sierra Club
  • Global Witness
  • The IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands
  • BankTrack
  • Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)
  • Inclusive Development International (IDI)

The 263 organizations are demanding that Total provides full and fair compensation to communities already affected by the project. They are calling on banks to publicly rule out providing any funding to the construction of the pipeline.

Speaking on behalf of AFIEGO, one of the organizations, Diana Nabiruma said, “Oil companies including Total, the lead proponent of the EACOP project, have increased investment in renewable energy as they realize that this is the energy of the future. No responsible bank should finance the EACOP project well knowing that the economic, environmental, climate change and social risks of the project are too immense.”

The open letter was launched alongside a new campaign website for the global #StopEACOP coalition. The website will keep track of financial institutions, investors and insurers that have ruled out support for the project. It will serve as a campaign hub for further public actions targeting the project’s developers and financial backers.