On Wednesday, 24 August at 19:30 GMT:DR Congo is opening parts of the world’s second largest rainforest to oil and gas companies, alarming environmentalists and world leaders who warn that exploiting the region could severely undermine the global fight against climate change.
The Congo Basin is among 30 blocks of the country where DR Congo’s government is auctioning hydrocarbon exploration permits. Ministers say oil and gas reserves in the areas up for auction are worth more than half a trillion dollars, and could bring long overdue economic relief to some of the world’s poorest people.
But scientists and environmental groups say allowing oil and gas exploration in the Congo Basin would spur hunting, deforestation, pollution and carbon emissions in one of the world’s most critically-important carbon sinks, affecting millions of people in local communities and deepening the challenge of tackling global heating.
The Congo basin rainforest absorbs 1.5 billion tonsof carbon dioxide a year – a figure that would plummet …