Rich countries most responsible for the climate crisis must take the lead in pursuing a just and equitable transition away from all fossil fuels and providing finance to developing countries, rather than wasting time on carbon markets, risky technofixes and other misguided approaches, affirm Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), as UN climate talks are set to begin amidst a dire global political context.
The world’s largest grassroots environmental federation will be present at COP28 in Dubai, to call for climate action based on justice and equity, challenge big polluters, and stand in solidarity with oppressed peoples in the United Arab Emirates, Palestine and across the world.
FoEI anticipates that developed countries, such as the US, UK and EU member states, will continue their efforts to erase key principles of the global climate framework. They will push back on their responsibility for causing the climate crisis and their consequent obligation to cut emissions first and fastest and to provide climate finance for just transition, adaptation, and loss and damage in developing countries. This impacts discussions on almost every negotiation topic and is likely to lead to conflict and deadlock in the negotiating halls.
On the EU’s role, Colin Roche from Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“On the international stage, wealthy and emission-intense countries must lead the urgent charge for a fossil fuel phase-out. But the EU is hamstrung by its own gas dependency, reluctant to fully acknowledge the need for an accelerated transition in line with climate science. To truly exercise its responsibility, the EU must now set a concrete date for a comprehensive fossil fuel exit, leaving no room for excuses or loopholes.”
Further endangering the possibility of just outcomes is the fact that delegates tied to the world’s biggest polluting oil and gas firms have attended UN climate talks at least 7200 times over the last 20 years and will be there in force at COP28. Revelations that the UAE COP28 president is using bilateral meetings with countries at the summit to advance fossil fuel business deals are highly disturbing.
Lise Masson, from Friends of the Earth International, said:
“While climate impacts intensify, COP28 is rolling out the red carpet to Big Polluters, the stars of greenwashing and false solutions to climate change. Carbon markets and offsets and removals won’t save the day, they are a dangerous distraction propped up by rich countries and polluting corporations desperate to carry on business as usual.”
In a context of extreme state repression, Friends of the Earth International comes to this year’s summit to raise the voices of all those who defend human rights, democracy and environmental justice around the world, including many who chose not to attend COP28. Along with other internationalist organisations, FoEI calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, and for an end to settler colonialism and climate colonialism everywhere.
Abeer Al-Butmeh, from PENGON/Friends of the Earth Palestine, said from the West Bank:
“Our struggle against Israel’s colonial regime is intrinsically linked with all struggles for human rights and climate justice. COP28 is being used as a greenwashing tool by Israel, to deflect criticism from their systematic oppression of Palestinian people and project themselves as climate saviours, while committing environmental genocide in Gaza. As a Palestinian, I am not attending the COP28 in the name of climate justice.”
Lise Masson added:
“Conflict, colonialism and corporate power are fanning the flames of environmental breakdown and destroying lives deemed disposable, from Palestine to the frontlines of climate impacts in the South. We are here to remind world leaders of the urgency to act, for their sake, and the justice and equity that must accompany every decision.”
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