The United States asked the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Thursday to reconsider the auction of several plots of land in its forests for oil and gas exploitation, after the visit of the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to that country.
A State Department spokesman told GLM that the auction of land in the Congo Basin announced days ago by the authorities “undermines” the DRC’s commitment to protect the tropical forest.
“The consequences for the RCD, for the continent and for the world are immense. We encourage (the Government of the DRC) to be cautious, to review and consult (the decision),” added the same source.
During his visit to Kinshasa on Tuesday, Blinken announced the creation of a working group with the DRC government to study the auction of these lands.
The State Department spokesman expressed “concern” to Efe over the fact that these auctions, carried out “without transparent environmental impact studies,” are damaging the tropical forest, including the Virunga National Park, an important gorilla sanctuary.
He also explained that the most important US government agencies will be involved in the working group “to address the common goals of economic development and environmental conservation.”
The controversial decision by the Congolese authorities to auction some 240,000 square kilometers of land for the exploitation of oil and natural gas, many of them located in areas of immense environmental value due to their ability to sequester carbon, has outraged climate activists around the world.
The authorities assure that the country has the right to take advantage of its oil and natural gas reserves, just as countries like the United States do, to increase the profits of the State and to be able to help its poorest citizens.
The forests of the African country are one of the most important barriers in the fight against climate change, since they store an amount of carbon equivalent to ten years of polluting emissions, according to UN data.