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COP27: The Thorny Road to Sharm El Sheikh

Aerial view of the dwindling ice on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten
Some of the world’s most iconic glaciers are set to disappear by 2050, according to a new study by UNESCO, which highlights the accelerated melting of glaciers in World Heritage sites. November 2022

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 7 2022 (IPS) - The 27th Conference Of Parties (COP27) on Climate Change comes at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges due to the magnitude and the interconnected nature of our multiple structural crises. The world’s average temperature is now at 1,1℃.

For many years now, we have been experiencing irreversible damage to the planet, and the loss of homelands, cultures, ecosystems, on a daily basis. Record-breaking heat has hit North America, Europe, China, Australia, India and Pakistan, sparking wildfires in many places. More than a third of heat-related deaths in summer from 1991 to 2018 occurred as a result of human-caused global warming.

European and Latin American cities are among the worst affected by summer heat deaths due to the climate crisis. Terrible floods have swept Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, and South Africa. Super typhoons have brought untold damage to people and communities in the Philippines, the Caribbean, the Pacific and the gulf and southern areas of the United States.

But does COP really hold any value anymore?

We have been seeing consistent efforts to dilute the outcomes of previous climate change conferences, often driven by the world’s fossil fuel addiction and intensive lobbying of big polluters prioritizing their agenda of greed and profit over the lives of billions of frontline communities suffering the devastating impact of climate crisis daily.

At COP 26, the Glasgow Outcomes were presented as if they were more relevant than the Paris Agreement (which is legally binding). The UK presidency had enough time to build up a narrative around false solutions, including the charade of net zero targets for all by 2050 (undermining again the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) through carbon offsets and nature-based solutions that further continue with the agenda of commodification of nature for the profit of the same usual polluters.

World governments, especially rich countries have consistently failed to deliver on their climate finance commitments of $100 billion per year. This annual goal urgently needed by grassroots communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change has not been met even once by the governments.

There has been constant pushback for a loss and damage finance facility and mechanism that can support vulnerable countries and peoples on the ground recover from climate change induced disasters. Loss and damage were only introduced in the COP27 agenda after consistent push by civil society groups globally.

The climate conferences are increasingly becoming spaces for greenwashing of not just the big polluters’ crimes, but also of the regimes and presidencies hosting COP. COP27 is taking place in the Southern Sinai city of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, and as all eyes turn to Egypt, the campaigns to Free Alaa and other political prisoners, as well as for civic space to open up in Egypt, is gaining momentum.

As the world leaders and negotiators gather for the summit, it is not only communities in Sinai that continue to suffer from the increasing violence of climate impacts but peoples everywhere, with the most marginalized – peoples of color, Indigenous Peoples, communities in the Global South, frontline communities, women and children – hit first and hardest.

It is imperative that we stand in solidarity with impacted and frontline communities everywhere and reiterate our demands for urgent and drastic action to justly address the climate crisis.

At COP27, DCJ will continue with its struggles and demands for profound social transformation and the achievement of immediate concrete results in terms of drastic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and enabling peoples to deal with the impacts of the climate crisis.
Like other global crises, climate change arises principally from historically unequal economic and social structures, from practices and policies promoted by rich, industrialized countries, and from systems of production and consumption that sacrifice the needs of the many to the interests of a few.

And it is the communities around the world that have contributed the very least to climate change that are paying the highest price–their lives and livelihoods.

We demand from all governments that if international negotiations are to mean anything, they must deliver outcomes that will prevent catastrophic climate change and ensure just and fair sharing of drastic emission reductions in keeping with the goal of limiting the rise of global average temperature to below 1.5º C.

We demand an end to pursuit and implementation of false solutions disguised in the form of nature-based solutions. We demand that rich countries deliver fully on their obligations to provide adequate and appropriate climate finance on the basis of countries’ responsibility for climate debt and as part of reparations to all affected peoples.

We demand mechanisms that ensure climate finances are rewound to the empowerment and benefit of peoples and communities most impacted by the climate crisis. We demand that developed countries support appropriate technology transfers without intellectual property rights barriers.

Will COP27 be another COP where rich countries and big polluters gather to impede the calls of communities fighting for their lives and livelihood every day? No, we cannot stand back and let that happen. COP27 must deliver a strong message to the world that the multilateral system can still play a role in fighting the climate crisis.

It cannot be remembered as just another meeting, but as a moment to show major progress through real solutions. It must generate outcomes towards an urgent reset of the system. A moment to abandon the old, profiteering, polluting world order, and a time to reimagine and rapidly implement global collaboration that centers equity, science, humanity.

We don’t have to tell you what another failed COP will mean for people and the planet.

Gadir Lavadenz is Global Coordinator, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice;
Lidy Nacpil is Coordinator, Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development, Manila

IPS UN Bureau


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