Geography

Congo auctions its rainforest for oil money

Destruction: Congo's sole priority is economic growth, officials say. 

Is every country equally responsible for saving the planet? Experts warn of a “climate catastrophe” if drilling takes place. But Congo insists it has a right to sell its land.  From above, the vast Congolian rainforest seems peaceful. On the ground, it is full of noises, from the calls of 1,000 species of bird to the cries of forest elephants, chimpanzees and some of the world’s last gorillas. But newer sounds are growing louder by the day: the sounds of vehicles, of logging and drilling. This week, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which controls the majority of this rainforest, announced that it would auction much of it off to oil and gas companies. If these auctions go ahead, global temperatures will shoot up. Experts fear it will be the end of the fight against climate catastrophe. So it is little wonder that they have caused an outcry elsewhere in the world. But the Congolese government is unrepentantShowing no regret for wrongdoing. . The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world. Yet it is extremely rich in natural resources. It claims it simply wants to do what the Western world did. Western countries have been burning large quantities of fossil fuels for almost three centuries. All in all, just 23 developed countries have produced half of all historical carbon emissions. The USA alone is responsible for around a quarter of all emissions, despite making up just 4% of the global population. It is hypocritical, the DRC argues, for rich countries to tell them that they must stay poor to save the world from a climate crisis that the rich countries created. Yet the argument is not so straightforward. Handing drilling contracts over to multinational corporations does not necessarily create wealth for local people. Instead, it is often hoarded by a small elite, while ordinary people suffer from the effects of environmental degradation. So the DRC might not see any real gain from exploiting its rainforest at all. Is every country equally responsible for saving the climate? Stewardship Yes: Whether or not it is fair for rich countries to behave this way, it is the poorest countries that stand to lose the most from climate breakdown. For their own sake, they must take it seriously. No: The Western world has got filthy rich from burning dirty fuels. Now rich countries have a responsibility to use that wealth to save the world from the mess that they themselves have created. Or… Rich countries must compensate poor countries for missing out on development. The developed world pledged just over £400 million to help the DRC preserve its ecology. It must commit more resources. KeywordsUnrepentant - Showing no regret for wrongdoing.

Continue Reading

The Day is an independent, online, subscription-based news publication for schools, focusing on the big global issues beneath the headlines. Our dedicated newsroom writes news, features, polls, quizzes, translations… activities to bring the wider world into the classroom. Through the news we help children and teachers develop the thinking, speaking and writing skills to build a better world. Our stories are a proven cross-curricular resource published at five different reading levels for ages 5 to 19. The Day has a loyal and growing membership in over 70 countries and its effectiveness is supported by case studies and teacher endorsements.

Start your free trial Already have an account? Log in / register