D.R. Congo’s Oil Block Sale Threatens Carbon Sinks

Crude Oil Price Above $105 Per Barrel

The Democratic Republic of Congo‘s decision to auction oil exploration areas next month risks disrupting some of the world’s most critical carbon sinks and jeopardising a $500 million forest preservation deal.

A carbon sink is anything that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases – for example, plants, the ocean and soil. In contrast, a carbon source is anything that releases more carbon into the atmosphere than it absorbs – for example, the burning of fossil fuels or volcanic eruptions.

Some of the blocks, which are expected to hold 16 billion barrels of petroleum, overlap with the world’s largest tropical peatlands, which cover 145 000 square kilometres (56 000 square miles) and store around 30 billion tonnes of carbon, or nearly 82 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon sinks aid in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the combustion of fossil fuels and other activities.

One of the main agreements reached at last year’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow was to protect the wetlands and the greater Congo Basin tropical rainforest. Congo will get cash over five years if it accomplishes agreed-upon goals under the agreement with the Central African Forest Initiative.

In an emailed response to inquiries, CAFI stated, “This letter of intent commitment will begin with a full investigation of the extent to which mining, oil, and gas titles overlap with, or infringe on protected areas, high value forests, and peatlands.” “Donors are collaborating closely with the DRC government to ensure that the letter of intent’s commitments are met.”

CAFI is a 2015 cooperation involving a group of European countries, the European Union, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, as well as the six Congo Basin countries. It aims to stop the region’s forests from disappearing.

“The Ministry of Hydrocarbons’ geology, geography, and environment experts worked methodically on the selection of the oil blocks, taking into account environmental sensitivities,” the government said in a video about the block tenders obtained by Bloomberg in May. “The president’s objective is to examine both the use of the DRC’s oil resources and environmental protection.”

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