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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Time to ban polluters from climate negotiations

The word “fossil” is derived from Latin and primarily means, “dug up”. However, it is important we know that the old forests, which had been pressed into coal and the ocean life that was pressed into oil over millions of years back, are what is known as “fossil fuels” today.

Fossil fuel pollution: Ghana may join the league of polluters, what with its proposal to establish a coal-fired plant in Ekumfi Aboano
Fossil fuel pollution: Ghana may join the league of polluters, what with its proposal to establish a coal-fired plant in Ekumfi Aboano

Fossil fuel industry, on the other hand, specialises in the digging up of coal and oil deposits deep down the earth crust through developed refined methods. This activity is accountable for around 65 to 70 percent of present day global warming. The industry practitioners are thus major polluters.

Statistics has shown that climate change alone is responsible for the death of 300,000 people per year. Thus, it is now clear that the various impacts of climate change around the world ranging from sea level rise, flooding, drought, and desertification, amongst others, affirm that climate change is no longer a threat, but rather a reality.

Also, astounding billions of people will be kicked out of their homes if the world fails to agree on a global climate deal aimed at protecting the environment. Even if we find it difficult to kick fossil fuel industry out for the sake of the environment, we should consider doing so for the sake of the coming generations that will one day live to question our existence as to what we have done to them. There can’t be any better time the world bans fossil fuel industry from climate negotiations than now.

Countries of the world will be meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco between 7 and 18 of November, 2016, to deliberate on climate action, but our fear is that the negotiation should not be politicised like many others in the past. I continue to wonder why corporations like European Energy Giants Engie, Electricite de France (EDF), Shell and BNP Paribas that happens to be chief polluters will continue to sponsor climate talks.

Being the chief polluters, we should not expect them to agitate for a strong global climate deal, rather they would corner their ways to influence United Nations (UN) representatives and make them dance to their tune at a time we need to decide on the fate of humanity.

No wonder Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Manager for 350.org, stated, “The fossil fuel industry is actively lobbying climate action and standing in the way of progress. When you’re trying to burn the table down, you don’t deserve a seat at it. This process needs to hear the voices of the people not polluters”. It is crystal clear that if the fossil fuel industry continues to be part of climate talks, there will not be any significant change or progress in the outcomes of climate talks. For how long must we continue to make corporations set climate talks agenda and put profit making interests above humanity and planet earth?

We should not forget the fact that millions of people and countries will continue to suffer for the unrepentant act of these corporations. This is the time we need to be more active as world citizens to save the planet from collapsing. We must brace up to protect the environment, save the less privileged people from the vulnerabilities of climate change; safeguard animals from extinction, and lakes from drying up.

If we fail to meet the 1.5 0C global average temperatures, then some countries will be under water, more animals will be endangered and the unborn generations will live to curse us for not leaving a world worth living for them.

World leaders can only secure our future and protect the right of the least polluting countries and persons by banning the fossil fuel industry from caressing and cat walking the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) corridor. It is usually said that together we stand, divided we fall. Through our collective effort we can press the UNFCCC to kick fossil fuel industry out of climate negotiations.

We may think it will be hard to achieve, but it is possible through our collective will and determination. For a massive coalition of civil society groups from all works of life to come together and got the World Health Organisation (WHO) to kick the tobacco industry out of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) because they know tobacco kills a million people yearly and the only way to make progress and preserve public health is by banning them,  then we can also achieve it with the UN banning the fossil fuel industry from climate negotiations through one voice. Let’s stand to defend ourselves from the tyranny of big polluters. We should all be advocates of Climate Justice.

By Alabede Surajdeen (environmentalist and SDGs Advocate; alabedekayode@gmail.com, @BabsSuraj)

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