A HANDFUL of protesters on the ground floor of the cavernous Cape Town International Convention Centre spread fake oil on the ground and chanted, demanding an end to fossil fuels.
Two floors above, the hundreds of delegates at the just-ended Africa Oil Week were largely unaware – and mostly unmoved – by the display, Reuters reported.
‘Under no circumstances are we going to be apologising,’ said Gabriel Obiang Lima, energy minister of Equatorial Guinea, adding that they need to exploit those resources to create jobs and boost economic development.
‘People out of the continent saying we should not develop those fields … that is criminal. It is very unfair.’
The tension keenly felt at oil conferences in Europe was largely absent over the three-day event in Cape Town; there was little focus on climate change, apart from the shadow renewables cast over long-term demand.
In contrast, investor and government pressure to address climate change has fundamentally altered oil events in Europe.
While no oil-producing country has stopped developing fossil fuel resources, pledges such as Britain’s promise to be net carbon neutral by 2050 or Norway’s national carbon tax show that governments acknowledge a need to shift away from fossil fuels.
In Cape Town, African leaders touted the good that oil, gas and even coal can bring on a continent where some 600 million people lack access to electricity.
‘Energy is the catalyst for growth,’ said Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s energy minister and national chair of the ruling African National Congress.