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COP26: Campaigners seek ‘Real Zero’ in place of ‘Net Zero’ Emissions

A group of environmental activists has called for a halt to Net Zero Emission, describing it as propagation of false narratives. Instead, they are demanding Real Zero Emissions, saying it is the way out of calamitous climate change.

Oilwatch International Global Gathering
Participants at the Oilwatch International Global Gathering

The call was made when Oilwatch International network members, community representatives from oil regions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), the academia and the media met in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, from October 19 to 21, 2021, physically and virtually, for the maiden edition of the Oilwatch International Global Gathering.

The Global Gathering looked critically at the Net Zero concept which world leaders, corporations and investors appear to be echoing as the world gets ready for COP26.. 

According to delegates, COP26 in Glasgow should not be an arena for deliberations on “false notions” such as Nature Based Solutions, Net Zero, Carbon Neutrality, and Carbon Offsetting, but rather real actions including keeping fossil fuel resources in the ground.

They stated that the use of Nature Based Solutions should not be an excuse for land and sea grabbing and displacement of indigenous communities.

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They insisted that all governments needed to urgently go back to a binding global emissions reduction rather than the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which, according to the UN computations of submissions made so far, will lead the world to a calamitous temperature increase of up to 2.7oC above pre-industrial levels.

Delegates at the event declared that there should be no new coal, oil, or gas extraction expansion plans in line with the best available science as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

They demanded the phase-out of existing extraction of fossil fuels in a manner that is fair and equitable, considering the respective dependency of countries on fossil fuels and the importance of transitioning workers in the fossil fuels industry to more social, environment and climate friendly sectors.

They underlined the need for Parties attending COP26 to reintroduce the distinction between the Kyoto Protocol Annex 1 Countries and consider the creation of the Annex 0 countries and consider payment of ecological debts to communities that have been sacrificed over the years while fossil fuel corporations rake in “blood profits”

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Furthermore, they asked world leaders to ensure a global just transition to 100% access to renewable energy, with no corporate and no extensive base, that contribute to energy sovereignty, support for dependent economies to diversify away from fossil fuels, and enable all people and communities, especially in the Global South, to flourish.

They want communities to play major roles and be heard in negotiations at the COP as, according to participants, they are at the forefront of the climate disasters occurring globally.

Similarly, they want oil impacted communities that suffer impacts like the Niger Delta, or Ecuadorian Amazon, to be properly cleaned up, and oil companies held accountable and not continue in impunity.

“Fossil fuel and other extractive companies and their enabling governments linked to human rights abuses must be held accountable, compelled to divest, and obligated to justly compensate environmental defenders, climate activists, and communities they have victimised,” they said, demanding the immediate release of the arrested staff of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) – Oilwatch Africa members in Uganda – and a halt to further harassment of earth defenders across the world.

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Participants deliberated on the failure of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of Parties (COP) which they said has over the years become an avenue for trade talks, commercial pledges, and avoidance of real action irrespective of the glaring unfolding climate catastrophe.

They opined that at a time when the world is experiencing extreme weather events including droughts, wildfires, cyclones, hurricanes and floods, leaders are getting sucked “into false solutions that lock in dependence on fossil fuels with the promises of techno-fixes for carbon removals, solar radiation management and/or carbon offsets”.

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