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TotalEnergies UK Office Gets Protest Over Uganda

A "Just Stop Oil" climate activist waves while being filmed by a police officer after activists threw orange paint at the U.K. headquarters of Total Energies in London on June 27, 2023 to protest against the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Uganda.

LONDON — Climate change campaigners targeted the UK headquarters of oil giant TotalEnergies with paint Tuesday, protesting the French firm's alleged human rights violations in the construction of a contentious oil pipeline in Uganda.

Supporters of the Just Stop Oil activist organisation sprayed with black paint the interior lobby of the company's headquarters in London's Canary Wharf district, while others daubed orange paint on its exterior, the protest group said.

Dozens of students from a pressure group opposed to the building of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) also massed outside the building during the stunt to show support, it added.

London's Metropolitan police said officers had arrested 27 people "for a combination of suspicion of criminal damage and aggravated trespass."

TotalEnergies is the largest shareholder in the controversial east African venture, which is set to carry crude oil to the Tanzanian coast through several Ugandan protected nature reserves.

Communities in the region claim the energy firm and other EACOP backers have caused serious harm to their rights to land and food in building the 1,500-kilometer pipeline.

Critics have also called the project a "carbon bomb" which would release over 379 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

Also on Tuesday in France, a group of Ugandan citizens and aid groups, joined by French aid organisations, filed a lawsuit in a Paris court against TotalEnergies for damages over the alleged human rights violations.

Just Stop Oil wants the U.K. and other governments to end all new oil and gas exploration and has promised not to let up in its high-profile protests until it does so.

The group has repeatedly hit the headlines with its direct-action stunts, such as disrupting sporting events and targeting valuable works of art, to publicise their cause.

But some of their antics, in particular those most impacting people's everyday lives, have prompted a public backlash, and appear to be increasingly dividing environmental campaigners and their financial backers.

Trevor Neilson, a former funder of the organization and other direct action climate change groups, recently told the Sunday Times that they should end their disruptive tactics because they were "not accomplishing anything."

"It's just performative," he told the newspaper. "It's not accomplishing anything. I absolutely believe that it has now become counterproductive."