Total’s Congo offsetting project ‘snatched our land’

Farmers say oil giant’s tree-planting scheme has barred them from their fields and threatens livelihoods

This spring, when Pulchérie Amboula went to plant crops on her land, she was chased away by men in trucks. 

“As soon as they see the tractor, there is a Hilux vehicle which starts following behind,” she says. “We no longer work. With grandchildren and children, how are we going to live?” 

Pulchérie inherited the land on the Batéké Plateau, undulating savannah in the Republic of Congo and farms cassava to sell in the capital, Brazzaville, 90 kilometres away. But in November 2021, white security guards arrived and began driving farmers from their fields, she and her neighbours say. 

The guards are employed by a local partner of TotalEnergies, a French oil giant. With Forest Neutral Congo (FNC), Total is planting 40,000 hectares with acacia trees which it says will capture 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 20 years. This represents around 2 per cent of Total’s annual emissions. 

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