While richer nations have been slow to deliver on their pledges for adaptation and mitigation, African leaders have used COP27 as an opportunity to embrace the new scramble for oil and gas in the continent.
International, pan-African, and national civil society organisations are fighting back against this threat, arguing that it would lock communities and economies into more fossil fuel production for decades to come.
Climate change activists voice their opinions.
Climate activists from across sub-Saharan Africa gathered this morning in response to the dash for fossil fuels by African leaders at COP27. Vowing to resist oil-and-gas development at home, even as their leaders tout the continent’s fossil fuel potential at the summit.
“We refuse to be used as a bargaining chip in these negotiations,” said one activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
It has been suggested that African leaders have used COP27 – “the African COP” – to undermine the goals of the Paris Agreement by pushing for more fossil fuel deals at the expense of people and the continent. Beyond voicing collective demands on an agreement for a dedicated finance facility for Loss and Damage under the UNFCCC at COP27 and asking richer nations to deliver on their climate pledges for adaptation and mitigation, African delegations have used the conference to embrace the new scramble for oil and gas in the continent.
International, pan-African and national civil society organisations and activists are upset at the threat of possibly locking communities and economies in more oil and gas production for decades to come. President Biden recently said while on the campaign trail;
“We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar.”
Speaking about US production he said;
“No one is building new coal plants because they can’t rely on it, even if they have all the coal guaranteed for the rest of their existence of the plant. So it’s going to become a wind generation,”
African leaders’ actions fly in the face of warnings by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that existing fossil fuel infrastructure was already sufficient to breach the 1.5c limit and by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that no new oil and gas fields approved for development are compatible with the pathway to a 1.5c.
For any meaningful outcome to be achieved in Egypt, delegates must listen to the people of Africa – not the fossil fuel sector, and collectively commit to a phase out of all fossil fuels and reflect this commitment in the cover decision, as well as agree to the establishment of a Loss and Damage Finance Facility.
In advance of the official close of the climate negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh, African activists spoke put at a press conference pledging their concerted resistance to further fossil fuel expansion on the continent.
Barbra Kangwana, Safe Lamu and Climate activist from Kenya, said;
“The Kenyan government proposed a coal plant at Lamu, a UNESCO world heritage site, in the name of boosting the national electricity supply back in 2019. Trying to fathom the damage that would have happened to the small coastal town left us restless. The locals were given the false hope of getting jobs at the plant. The glaring truth is, you cannot claim to feed a population you are killing slowly. We raised our voices, lobbied, signed petitions, went to court, and eventually the people won. This is a clear case of failing systems – when systems fail, the people rise.”
Kentebe Ebiaridor, Environmental Rights Campaigner and Niger Delta Activist, said;
“Fossil gas must be left in the ground and climate funding should be used for public good through community owned and controlled, decentralised energy. We have seen the devastation that oil has caused to our people in the Niger Delta and we are glad that they are now winning in the courts to get reparations. The fossil fuel industry needs to understand that these communities will not stop. For every destruction they cause, they will pay.”
Deligates have strong opinions too.
ACT Alliance, is a global network of 147 churches and humanitarian agencies that work in over 125 countries. They are on the front lines of vulnerable communities who have done the least to cause climate change yet face the worst of its impacts.
Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, general secretary of ACT Alliance said;
“Even with global temperature rise at 1.2, the world is seeing more frequent and severe climate-induced disasters- droughts, storms, and more,”
“ACT members support communities in preparing for, surviving, and recovering from such events. We know the challenges. And the need of local communities.”
Mattias Söderberg, chair of the ACT climate justice group said;
“A climate summit that gives up on 1.5 will be a failure. Just seven years ago in Paris, we committed to strive for 1.5. But each year we delay, we stall, we avoid, and the time horizon for urgent action shrinks each day.”
As we come to the close of COP27, it’s clear that African leaders have not been listening to the people of Africa. Instead, they are pushing for more fossil fuel deals that will lock communities and economies in for decades to come. This flies in the face of warnings from the International Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency.
If we want meaningful outcomes from climate negotiations, delegates must listen to the people of Africa and collectively commit to a phase out of all fossil fuels.
Sources: THX News, ActAlliance & Greenpeace International.