KENYA: Climate Activists Seek Pope’s Support in Halting Oil and Gas Exploration in DRC

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, JANUARY 31, 2023 (CISA)-Climate activists are deepening calls for a halt to plans for oil and gas exploration in the Democratic Republic of Congo and seeking Pope Francis’s support as he embarks on his apostolic journey to the mineral-rich nation.

According to a statement released by, a global climate movement, the explorations cite a grave risk posed by oil exploration activities to the environment, endangered species of wildlife, and the livelihoods of local communities.

“Pope Francis, who is on a 4-day visit to the country, is an advocate for environmental justice who has been consistent in calling for urgent climate action, the abandonment of fossil fuels and a transition to renewable energy,” the statement reads.

The activists have been campaigning against oil exploration activities in the Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest national park, as well as the recent plans by the government to auction oil and gas blocks, some of which fall in sensitive areas in the DRC.

Bonaventure Bondo a climate activist in Kinshasa, is concerned by the government’s continued push for expansion of fossil fuel exploration in DRC.

“Our protected areas are under threat – from the oil exploration activities in Virunga National Park to the oil and gas blocks that the government is auctioning off in the Congo basin. This comes at a time when all the signs point to the urgent need to shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, to contain global heating and avert catastrophic climate impacts. We appeal to Pope Francis, to engage our government on this very crucial matter, to call for the stop to these fossil fuel projects and the prioritization of renewable energy,” Bondo says.

His counterpart Ashley Kitisya, a Fossil Fuel Free Campaigner for Laudato Si Movement while quoting words by Pope Francis said “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gasses can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”

Kitisya insists that the exploration of oil and gas in DRC sets the country on the path of more climate catastrophes that will disproportionately affect the poor.

“We, therefore, come together to call for the end of unjust actions to profit a handful of people. Instead, we call for a transition away from fossil fuels and the use of clean, renewable energy that primarily addresses the needs of local communities and economies,” Kitisya asserts.