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COP27 must be moment to put polluters on the dock, secure justice for climate suffers – Activists

Civil society representatives of Climate Action Network have emphasised that the real test of success of the forthcoming COP27 summit will be if it responds to the needs of the billions of people on the frontline of the climate crisis and restores trust and solidarity in the multilateral process. Otherwise, it risks squandering this moment and loses all credibility.

A power plant fired by coal

Speaking on Monday, October 31, 2022, at an online press briefing on COP27, the UN Climate Summit set to begin in one week in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, participants warned against using the summit as a lobby shop for gas investors who they claim are keen to use this opportunity to push African countries into unsustainable gas exploration deals that will primarily power Western homes and cities.

They highlighted that the struggle for climate justice – and all the freedoms for dissent, protest and to hold those in power accountable – is intrinsically linked to the struggle to ensure human rights and protect civil liberties to demand a safe and just future for all.

Specifically on the position of the USA, a historical blocker on loss and damage finance, the press briefing called on the Biden administration to listen to those on the frontlines and seize this moment to ensure the United States stood on the right side of history as climate impacts escalate causing unpredictable and chaotic devastation with the window of time to limit warming below 1.5C closing rapidly.

All the speakers highlighted that COP27 must deliver on a finance facility for loss and damage and set the stage for continued support for those suffering the consequences of climate impacts.

During the press conference, Harjeet Singh, Head, Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International, said: “The test of success for COP27 will be if it responds to the over 3 billion people living in climate vulnerable contexts and countries. This COP will take place right on the frontlines- in the African continent. We are witnessing in real time how climate catastrophe is showing up in new and unpredictable ways as fossil fuels – the root cause of this crisis – continue to be extracted and greenhouse gas emissions rise.

“Rich governments must engage in a constructive manner to address the ongoing injustice of climate induced loss and damage by committing to deliver support to those being impacted and by phasing out fossil fuels. This is the COP where polluters must be put on the dock and be held accountable. The UN is the place where we have to engage, and if it is failing it is because of rich countries are putting the legitimacy of multilateralism at risk.”

Lorraine Chiponda, Don’t Gas Africa-Facilitator & Africa Climate Movement-of-Movements Facilitator, said: “The proliferation of gas on the African continent to remedy a short-term energy crisis in Europe is a reckless move that will further result in plunder of the African continent as we have witnessed with rich fossil fuel corporates that have polluted, grabbed land and commons, violated land and people’s rights, compromised Africa’s food systems and impoverished Africa. Droughts in the Sub-Saharan that have left tens of millions of people food insecure, deadly floods in Nigeria that have so far claimed 600 people and displaced millions, floods in Durban that took the lives of about 400 people illustrate the legacy of fossil fuel investment for Africa.

“The world needs to take stock of their actions and commit to actions that will regenerate and build restorative people’s economies that are not colonial, extractive, patriarchal and corporate driven. The deception of the masses by peddling false solutions such as considering gas as a transition fuel or sanitizing gas as clean energy must stop.

“Furthermore, the financing of renewables requires generous subsidization and must be structured and financed using an equitable phase-out process, taking into account principles of equality and justice, including both corporates and rich nations repaying their climate debt to the African people. Only with such reparations will the world meet the immediate temperature-limit and emissions-cut goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Fernanda Carvalho, head of global policy for WWF’s climate and energy practice, said: “COP27 must be a moment where governments commit to reduce emissions across all parts of the economy and society. The new UNEP Emissions Gap Report underscores the critical situation we face, with neither current policies nor NDCs on track to limit global warming to 1.5℃. The only viable way forward is to accelerate structural changes to key parts of the economy – like electricity supply, transport, industry and construction – to sharply reduce emissions.

“Nature must also be given a more substantive role in discussions this year. The climate crisis is driving nature loss, and the destruction of natural ecosystems is in turn fuelling the climate crisis. But nature can be part of the solution. Governments must embed nature-based solutions within climate action and create momentum ahead of the December COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal – humanity’s last chance to reset its broken relationship with nature.

“We cannot afford to lose any more time. Every lost year puts more vulnerable people at risk. We must use this moment to steer the world to a clean, sustainable future. IPCC AR6 presented economic alternatives that are feasible, but it is up to the civil society to make them a reality.”

Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director, Climate and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “The fossil-fueled climate crisis is here, raging around the world, taking lives, destroying livelihoods and critical ecosystems, and threatening millions with food and water shortages. The latest science shows that the trajectory of global heat-trapping emissions is dangerously off-track, putting us at risk of even more catastrophic climate impacts. This deeply sobering context for the upcoming annual international climate talks in Egypt ratchets up the undeniable urgency for world leaders to act together quickly.

“Leaders of richer, major emitting countries, in particular, must commit to sharply bending the emissions curve and also investing in climate resilience. Fossil fuel companies too must be held accountable for their decades of obstruction and delay. Richer nations, including the United States, continue to fall well short of their finance commitments to help low-income countries cut their emissions and adapt to climate change.

“Meanwhile, losses and damages are mounting for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, especially for the poorest who have contributed the least to the problem. The success of COP27 depends crucially on the United States and other richer nations living up to their responsibilities to meaningfully address Loss and Damage, including delivering a clear near-term pathway for dedicated and ongoing funding.”

Rachel Simon, Climate & Development Policy Expert, Climate Action Network Europe, said:
“Rich countries have failed on their promise to support vulnerable countries and communities with $100 billion annually to deal with climate change, with a major shortfall on adaptation finance. The world is watching, and the clock is ticking. We will be holding governments to account at COP27 to ensure they get on the right track. The money is there – it’s a question of political will.

“The EU is finally acknowledging the need to address the impacts of climate change, as demanded by countries and communities suffering the most from the climate crisis. What’s the next step? The biggest historical emitting countries urgently need to agree to set up a Loss and Damage Finance Facility at COP27. That is the kind of meaningful progress we need to see in Egypt.”

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