Total behind the worst greenwashing project?  Why an NGO threw this trap

According to the hoax, elephants from the Wembere steppes were transported from Uganda to the shores of Lake Bourget.

ENVIRONMENT – This is the story of a bombshell announcement that fooled many organizations. Monday, September 13, a Twitter account, launched in July, announced that via a program called “RéHabitat”, TotalEnergies will transport animals from Africa, threatened by a pipeline project, to bring them to France in order to protect them.

The pipeline in question is a project initiated by several companies including Total, and plans to link the oil fields in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga. A titanic project, decried by environmental associations around the world, and which should extend over 1,445 kilometers, and ultimately impact 2,000 square km of protected areas.

The Twitter account also entitled “RéHabitat” ensures that the planned solution to this environmental disaster will therefore be to move some of the animals of the African fauna to France. The operation is almost too crazy to be true, and in fact, it turned out to be a huge hoax, a way to attract attention to the Total project. The French giant was even forced to officially deny the case after several environmental NGOs like Greenpeace, were fooled.

A project larger than life

It must be said that the architects of this hoax have put the means. At 11 o’clock this Monday morning, @ReHabitatEU publishes a message announcing the famous African wildlife conservation project, “designed to give hundreds of protected species the opportunity for a better life”.

The announcement is followed by a false press conference in a large Parisian hotel, during which the proposal for animal transfer, “carbon neutral”, is announced. The news spreads the confusion but the account quickly gives many details on the operation to come.

A modern-day Noah’s Ark

The authors thus claim to have joined forces “with ecological experts to find safe and sustainable French habitats for East African fauna”. “Brotherly habitats” with an ecology similar to the wetlands from which species will be extradited.

Thus, lions of the Biharamulo Reserve will be found in the valleys of the Rhône. The elephants of the steppe of Wembere will join the lake of Bourget, and the chimpanzees of the forest of Bugoma as for them will land at the edge of the lake of Sainte-Croix in the Verdon.

According to the “RéHabitat” program, the animals will be transported via a boat worthy of Noah’s Ark. The ship’s plans are even detailed, as you can see in the tweets below. The boat is thus “zero carbon” thanks to “retractable sails”, capable of pivoting to “take the wind optimally”.

On the form, it is difficult to doubt the veracity of the project since it is even presented on a website containing all the codes of TotalEnergie, and on which even appears a press release.

Epidermal reaction of environmentalists

Unsurprisingly, the project arouses outcry from many environmental organizations. Greenpeace or even the Friends of the Earth FR, shout “Greenwashing”. It is true that a project consisting in moving animals from their natural habitat to extend oil prospecting, under the guise of animal welfare, has the air of “greenwashing”.

The director of Greenpeace points out that “rather than abandoning the pipeline project in Uganda, the tanker will relocate the species threatened by the project … in France!”. Internet users are thinking of hacking the Total account, while others conceive of the possibility of such a project by invoking the “geniuses of communication”. At the same time, some people smell the “fake”.

Among the details that may have made them tick, the project’s website is hosted on totalenergies.africa.com, while the official site is simply totalenergies.com.

Above all, the false account ensures, in a rather curious way, that the arrival of African species in France will promote “the development of a functional tropical ecosystem”, and that the hybridization of species will improve “the capacity of French fauna to s ‘adapt to global warming ”.

An American militant group

To better understand the project in question, The Huffpost contacted the organizers in the afternoon. At first, they maintain their words, validating until the hybridization of an elephant and a pig. But, the French oil giant ends up denying any involvement.

Recontacted by Then24, the people behind “Réhabitat” then reveal to be affiliated with the American militant group Thefixersfix. The activist interviewed explains that “all this does not come from Total, but is a response to Total”, explaining that he “disagrees with Total’s irresponsible activities in East Africa”.

The NGO is far from being the only one to highlight this “ecological destruction”. In September 2020, Oxfam France, already denounced the Total project, which could also expropriate at least 12,000 families. Other French NGOs and Ugandan associations such as Les Amis de la Terre et Survie, or Afigeo, Cred, Nape and Navoda had also sued the oil giant in 2019 over this pipeline.

This staging procedure to draw attention to an environmental subject is not a first for Thefixersfix. In December 2020, they had mounted a hoax targeting the Bank of England. A fake press release claimed the central bank was about to stop buying bonds from oil and gas companies and go green.

See also on Then24: Scientists warn about the current consumption of fossil fuels

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