COP 27: Make or break time for putting the brakes on the climate crisis

Under the shadow of the worsening climate crisis, COP27 kicks off early next week. We’ll be there to influence the conversations on global carbon markets as much as we can, guided by our vision of a socially just and decarbonised future.

Two years into the make or break decade for the climate, COP27 is a vital opportunity for the international community to build the necessary consensus for ambitious and rapid action to put the brakes on the alarming rate of global heating. Little progress has been made since COP26. Current climate pledges would still lead to a catastrophic rise in temperature of 2.4°C by 2100, while exisiting policies stand to take us to a hellish 2.8°C increase.

However, the climate conference risks being overshadowed by the Russian war in Ukraine, skyrocketing energy prices in Europe and other parts of the world, the rising cost of living, the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic and other political issues.

This would be a grave error. Many of the socio-political concerns occupying humanity are closely linked to the climate crisis and our collective addiction to fossil fuels. Weaning ourselves off fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy will not only take the heat off the climate but will also boost our social and economic wellbeing and resilience.

Footprints in the air

Despite the massive and myriad challenges facing the world, we must find the collective political will to take ambitious climate action. Our top priority must be to shrink humanity’s carbon footprint significantly this decade in order to stay within the limit of 1.5°C global warming as enshrined in the Paris Agreement, with real and major emissions reductions rather than the rich world’s preference for offsetting.

This requires, among other things, getting the mechanisms governing Article 6 – in terms of environmental integrity, human rights and transparency – absolutely spot on. This is what our policy experts will focus on at the event. But, more importantly, we will emphasise that carbon markets are a sideshow, with the main challenge being the speedy reining in of emissions, saving energy and the transition to renewables. This is why we will also be taking part in discussions on the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), the governance of carbon removals, and others, in the vast side programme of the COP. And, following the rerelease of our updated FIFA Qatar World Cup report and related recent complaints to five national advertising standards bodies, we will raise awareness of greenwashing issues against the backdrop the UN High-level Expert Group on Net Zero’s report, which is due to be released during the COP

Fairness and justice

The transformation to a net-zero human carbon footprint needs not only to occur rapidly, it must also be fair and just, both within and between societies. This requires solidarity nationally, regionally and globally. Rich countries, major polluters and rich individuals must bear a greater share of the burden.We will continue our tradition of insisting on this fairness where the implementation of carbon credit generating projects is concerned – it will come to the fore in our side event on core principles for an independent grievance process under Article 6.

Fairness and human rights will also be at stake right there in the host country of COP27. The Egyptian regime is hoping to use COP27 as a greenwashing sideshow to distract attention away from its human rights abuses and its crushing of the country’s civil society. It is also using the occasion to attract major investment deals which will provide the country with an economic lifeline and help the regime tighten its hold on power.
How can we refuse to play along?

To begin with, let’s remember that even in the EU, the European Green Deal would not have happened without the tenacious protests and demonstrations of environmental activists and concerned citizens. Political freedom brought about climate action. Countries like Egypt, where human rights are stamped out, will not generate meaningful climate action.

So, we cannot discuss climate action at a COP in Egypt without intertwining it with human rights. We have signed the Egyptian Human Rights Coalition COP27 petition ‘No climate justice without open civic space’. The stakes might rise as prisoner of conscience Alaa Abd El-Fattah, in prison for most of the time since the 2011 revolution, extends his hunger strike to water. We will follow this troubling situation and do what we can to express our solidarity with Egyptian civil society. Of course, we can’t plan for what we don’t know will happen. But we are determined to make the best spontaneous choice possible, in coordination with our allies in the international green movement, to support fundamentally rightful political action.


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