Statement of the ILPS Commission 19 on Environment and Climate Justice on the COP28 Talks
We are now at the second week of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC. Yet much like its predecessors, it falls short and is only resulting in token agreements, profit-making schemes, and proposals that further enable the plunder of our resources and the degradation of our ecological systems through false climate solutions.
The grandiose intentions of the petro-state organizers to shock and awe with the news that they have agreed on the loss and damage fund on the first day of COP went up in smoke. The global loss and damage fund, projected as the primary focus of COP 28, fell far short of the much-needed support that third-world countries require to address the impacts of climate change. Initially, polluting imperialist countries committed a meager over $400 million to the fund, which represents a mere drop in the bucket. The United Nations estimates that up to $387 billion will be needed annually for developing countries to adapt to climate-driven changes, the initial commitment just 0.1% of the real annual budget needed for loss and damage.
These commitments are voluntary and not legally binding obligations of big polluting countries. Moreover, with the push of imperialist countries like the US, the World Bank has been tasked with managing the fund for four years. However small the climate fund, international robbers like the World Bank will have its big chunk of the climate cake.
This situation echoes what transpired over a decade ago when the climate fund was proposed in COP in Copenhagen in 2009. The estimated support needed by developing countries to address climate change impacts was $100 billion annually. Global contributions only began in 2014 after the Paris Agreement, and as of 2022, only $10 billion has been raised. This is just 0.8% of the needed fund of $1.3 trillion for the period from 2009 to 2022.
The Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement stand as clear examples of how imperialist countries and their big private monopolies manipulate UN and international climate agreements, rendering them ineffective in addressing the climate emergency and its root causes. Since the establishment of the UNFCCC, global carbon emissions and temperatures have continued to rise to historical levels. It has failed to produce meaningful steps to mitigate climate impacts, support climate impacted countries to adapt to climate change. In fact, we have lost so much biodiversity, witnessed the inundation and destruction of livelihoods and lives of countless communities, and much more since the climate talks began.
Imperialist countries feign genuine concern for the climate crisis while using COP processes to perpetuate false solutions, such as packaging clean coal, nuclear power, and big dams as clean technologies. They institute corporate market mechanisms and profit-making financial instruments like carbon trading, REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero, all to profit from different climate change interventions at the national and global level. These solutions lead to more biodiversity loss and forest degradation, privatization of mineral and agricultural lands, massive displacement of indigenous peoples, and the pollution of our rivers and seas that act as lifelines for humanity. Imperialists along with their local puppets and big landlords are using the UNFCC and its processes like COP to maneuver to continue if not expand their efforts to corner more profit all at the expense of the environment, peoples and communities.
Until now, wars of occupation and aggression are not being tackled as one major sources of environmental devastation, carbon emission, and wasteful use of resources as the military industrial complex continue to incite and fund wars to make profit. The military industrial complex remain as the biggest consumer of fossil fuels and mineral resources which are primarily being use to maim and kill people and destroy communities and nations. Much as the world’s wealthiest are using different multilateral bodies and agreements like COPs to maneuver their way into cementing their economic interests, they are also using wars of occupation and aggression to solidify their political status and suppress dissent.
Yet, civil society groups, people’s organizations, and poor countries repeatedly expose imperialist countries as the real culprits and perpetrators of the climate crisis. Events outside the formal negotiating tables of COP, especially protests and large mobilizations, effectively reveal how big private corporations dictate the agenda and results of the COP.
These actions underscore the importance of people’s movements in challenging the status quo and pushing for meaningful change to seriously address the impacts of climate change not only to the environment but also to the welfare and interest of workers. Workers in the imperialist countries are at the forefront of the climate movement in criticizing and challenging their governments to seriously commit to reducing their carbon emissions, move away from fossil fuel production and consumption while at the same time fighting for living wages, job security, and safe working conditions.
Peoples movements are at the center of any action to address the climate crisis. The Ogoni people in Nigeria have consistently fought for their rights and defended their their communities and land against foreign occupation, resource plunder and ecological pollution. In the Philippines, the Filipino people are similarly fighting for climate justice as they stop destructive projects and anti environment government policies through mobilizing thousands to protest in the street while at the same time revolutionary groups such as the New People’s Army forbids and punishes big corporations who destroy the environment and violate the rights of the people. These are few examples how people fight for climate justice.
So, what can we further expect from COP 28? To put it bluntly, we anticipate nothing significant coming out of the negotiations in Dubai. However, it is an opportunity for us to expose the duplicity and greediness of imperialist countries in addressing the climate crisis. Inside and outside of COP is a classroom to educate our allies, friends, and the public that climate talks dominated by imperialists and big corporations will not and cannot address the climate crisis.
We must raise their consciousness that the root cause of the climate crisis is the continuing domination of global monopoly capital. If we do our work effectively, this will result in more organizations joining our networks. More importantly, it can result to real gains for our people and communities such as stopping big mining, commercial logging, big dam projects, oil wells, and mono-crop plantations.
COP28 is an opportunity to strengthen international solidarity and movements against the resource plunder and environmental devastation perpetrated by imperialist countries, particularly the US and its big monopolies. COP 28 is a challenge for us to mobilize hundreds or even millions of people for climate justice. As we discussed earlier, we must link our campaign for climate justice to the movement against imperialist war of aggression and occupation such as what is happening now in Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq, Libya.
Concretely, we must mobilize on December 9, the Global Day of Climate Action, to put forward the demands of nations, peoples, and communities to address the root causes of the climate crisis and oppose the resource plunder and climate violations by monopoly capitalists and make them accountable while at the same time project and pursue their democratic aspirations like just transition, genuine agrarian reform, fossil production phaseout, and the like.
As more COPs are likely to come, we and the next generation must tirelessly work for climate justice and show the people and the masses that the real solutions to save the planet can only be truly achieved through fighting for peoples democratic rights, through winning struggles for national liberation like in the Philippines, India, and Palestine, and by defeating imperialism at the global level, and through pursuing socialism to the end.
Fight for climate justice! Down with imperialism! Long live international solidarity.
*This statement is edited from the closing remarks read by ILPS19 Secretariat member Enteng Bautista during the webinar – COP28 Dubai : What’s In Store for the Peoples & Masses held last December 1, 2023 with Peoples Rising for Climate Justice