WHAT IS COP?
COP stands for Conference of the Parties and gathers world leaders, representatives from the world’s governments, civil society, researchers, organizations and companies every year since 1995 to discuss climate issues and to negotiate solutions and measures.
20/11 2022, the UN climate summit COP27 ended. No major climate goals were lifted and no agreement to phase out fossil fuels were created. A third of Pakistan is under water, East Africa is experiencing its worst drought in over 40 years and the melting of glaciers has never been more severe. Therefore, the results of the meeting are disappointing.
The challenges for climate activists, grassroots and civil society have never been greater. A global mobilization for climate justice is now highly needed.
At COP27, a Loss and Damage fund was agreed upon. This means that rich countries must financially compensate vulnerable countries that suffer and have suffered from climate change. The UN’s climate convention is clear that it is the industrialized countries that have a greater responsibility in climate change, as they have historically been responsible for the majority of emissions. According to the climate convention, the rich countries must take the lead, reduce their emissions, and financially compensate the vulnerable countries. The details are not clear, but it is a clear global recognition determining that the rich countries are responsible for the serious climate situation we are in.
The climate movement has never believed that the COP is the place where real policy will be implemented, but the climate movement has taken the COP meetings as a chance to show its muscles, to be involved and put pressure, because the voice of the people needs to influence our politicians. When the COP is placed in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, in two dictatorships where even their own population is not allowed to demonstrate, the climate movement cannot raise their voice in the COP negotiations because they cannot be there and put pressure on those in power.
THE PARIS AGREEMENT
At COP21 held in 2015 in Paris, all the countries of the world decided that we should aim to stop the global warming at 1.5 degrees after the realization that small islands like the Maldives and unique, climate-sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs, the ice of the Arctic and are unlikely to survive a global warming of 2 degrees which was the previous objective.
To meet the 1.5 degree target, we need to cut our global emissions of greenhouse gases in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 at the latest. Every tenth of a degree we manage to slow down global warming will reduce the impact on nature and us humans.
LACK OF TRUST
During the COP negotiations every year, the delegates review the countries’ status on the Paris Agreement and other deals. Unfortunately, we fail year after year.
All countries in the world have failed to respond to climate change. Democratic, regimes and questionable democracies. What we can see, however, is that democratic countries succeed better. Authoritarian states have a built-in tendency to be conservative and slow. Change is dangerous for those in power.
One reason for the failures is that the requirements for emission reductions are optional. It must change to mandatory emission reductions, for the rich countries in particular.
There are more delegates linked to the fossil fuel industry than to any individual country, which is another major problem with COP.
The world is getting an increasingly authoritarian political landscape, several countries are fragile and democracy is in decline. Armed conflicts are increasing and the gaps between both classes and countries are getting bigger. The COVID-19 pandemic has also reinforced the negative trends in the development of human rights, which are going backwards year by year. It contributes to making these negotiations even more difficult.
At the previous COP15, it was agreed that the rich countries should collectively compensate the vulnerable countries with 100 billion US dollars annually from 2020.
That goal has never been reached.
At COP21, it was agreed in the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030.
With current commitments, emissions are instead estimated to increase by 10.6% by 2030.
In the Paris Agreement, the countries also agreed to stop global warming at 1.5 degrees.
With current actions, we are expected to have a 2.5 degree increase by the end of this century.
The same group that is hit hardest by climate change are those who have historically accounted for the least emissions. The poorest half of the world’s population accounts for only 10 percent of the world’s emissions, while the richest 10 percent account for around half of the emissions.
Capitalism cannot prioritize the climate as long as it does not mean a greater economic profit than the exploitation of natural resources provides. Capitalism as an financial system has one main rule to follow, to create the greatest profit and accumulate capital.
It is therefore in the nature of capitalism to destroy the environment as it pursues profit through the burning of coal and fossil oils, industrial agriculture, extractive mining, deforestation, etc. With the knowledge of our economic system, we also understand that the delegates connected to the fossil industry during the COP are there to preserve their interest; to continue generating profit.
Women are underrepresented in all decision-making rooms and in all parts of society. The same applies to the UN climate summits. Men and the conservatives who are overrepresented also tend to use the gender and age of the climate activists to diminish the activists’ arguments instead of responding to the content of the arguments. The climate activist youth who strike from school to raise awareness of the climate issue are being mocked and urged to go back to school if they want to create a good future for themselves.
Our economic system based on endless growth, resource depletion and exploitation is simply a system primarily created by men and today is maintained by privileged men. The oil lobby, one of the biggest global obstacles to an effective green policy, is at the same time a very male-dominated industry. Values created by patriarchal structures are connected to climate denial and movements that actively oppose action towards a sustainable future.
What becomes clear with the climate summit COP is that we cannot put our future in the hands of those in power. The real change is created by civil society and the political fight of the people.
A global mobilization for climate justice is needed. Civil society around the world, all environmental defenders and activists fighting for climate justice, everyone who wants to see a better future for themselves and their children needs to unite. Together we will create the change we so urgently need.