German gas plans in Senegal alarm environmentalists | Germany – current German policy. DW news in Polish | DW

For Yero Sarr, an ecologist from Senegal, the matter is clear: “The Federal Republic of Germany cannot participate in this project,” says the activist. His government and the Federal Republic see it very differently. Because the project Sarr is talking about is not just any project. It is about enormous gas reserves off the coast of Senegal, about energy supplies for Germany and about German-Africa relations.

The first gas from the Greater Torture Ahmeyim field is expected to flow in December 2023. The Senegalese government expects production to start at 2.5 million tons per year. Necessary work is already underway, including the construction of a floating liquefied gas (LNG) terminal. In 2030, production could even reach 10 million tons. But for that, the Senegalese government needs partners. – That is why I have asked Olaf Scholz to support both the plans to export our gas to Europe and to use it in our power plants – said President Macky Sall after talks with the German Chancellor in May this year.

Germany’s interest is clear. After all, the German government has been desperately looking for new suppliers since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. – After these talks, we will continue this very intensively at a technical level, because it is just a matter of carrying it out intensively – said Chancellor Scholz after the meeting with Sall.

Umwelthilfe environmentalists: “violation of the spirit of the Paris Agreement”

On the other hand, environmentalists don’t like the clear vision of a gas partnership at all. – It is absolutely unacceptable for the German government to go to other countries and insist on new, joint projects related to fossil fuels. This is contrary to the spirit of the Paris climate agreement, says DW Sascha Müller-Kraenner of the NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German environmental aid). Indeed, Germany and the rest of the G7 industrialized nations have pledged to stop spending public money on fossil fuels. But in light of the Ukrainian crisis, this decision was softened.

Gas exploitation is a problem for the fishing village of Bargny, which is already suffering from rising sea levels

Gas exploitation is a problem for the fishing village of Bargny, which is already suffering from rising sea levels

This is a huge blow to international climate goals, says Umwelthilfe, and fears it will get worse: “Gas drilling off the coasts of Senegal and Mauritania will have a huge impact on local fisheries, on the people there, on their jobs and of course, about nature”, he fears Müller-Kraenner. Off the coast of Senegal is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed sea path protection area and the largest cold-water coral reef in the world. Environmentalists fear that mining rigs, gas pipelines, the planned breakwater and other infrastructure could cause significant damage to sensitive areas.

Federal government: “definitely the right option”

Nevertheless, the German government is pushing for this project. Germany only wants to use gas until it can fully cover its energy needs from renewable sources. According to Development Cooperation Minister Joachim Flasbarth, this is “definitely the right option” if Senegal uses its gas fields to transform its own renewable energy. But make it available to others as a supplier, Flasbarth said in late June. During his visit, Chancellor Scholz also promised to expand cooperation on renewable energy, for example in the form of the so-called “climate partnership”.

“Climate partners” and gas friends? Senegalese President Macky Sall showed his guest Olaf Scholz the solar park in May

The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (Reconstruction Credit Institute – founded as a public law institution in 1948 – is the third largest bank in Germany, with four-fifths of its shares held by the federal government and one-fifth by the state – please note) a solar power plant near Dakar, the country’s capital. In the future, Senegal wants to cover 30 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources. But President Macky Sall also believes that there is no need to do without gas. The African continent is inhabited by 1.3 billion people, 600 million of whom have no access to electricity. “We must also support industrialization,” demanded Sall during Scholz’s visit in May.

African Association: “a crucial step”

Industry representatives are also in favor of the gas project. – It is a necessary step to strengthen and deepen energy cooperation with the entire African continent. It is a pity that we are only doing it now, now that we have serious problems due to the shortage of gas supplies from Russia, said DW Christoph Kannengießer of the Afrikaverein der deutschen Wirtschaft. According to him, Germany is still dependent on gas imports and cannot meet its entire energy demand from renewable sources.

This coal-fired power station supplies Senegal with electricity and… covers the area with a thin layer of dust

This coal-fired power station supplies Senegal with electricity and… covers the area with a thin layer of dust

However, it is not known what will remain at the end of the bright prospects of a joint German-Senegalese cooperation. The outcome of the talks announced by the chancellor has not been disclosed. A question from DW about this to the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs went unanswered.

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