Home » COP28: Activists unite, the climate-nature-nexus and big meat & dairy delegate revelations

COP28: Activists unite, the climate-nature-nexus and big meat & dairy delegate revelations

by Madaline Dunn

COP28’s conclusion is fast approaching, and the summit is running out of time to reach a consensus on many issues, including, crucially, the phase-out. 

Further, this week, it has emerged that OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, wrote a letter to its members urging them to block any deal set on curbing fossil fuels – which could deal a serious blow to negotiations.

A number of countries, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, are also in opposition to the phase-out. 

ESG Mena runs through today’s highlights.

A march for ceasefire and climate action

As world leaders determine the destinies of billions behind closed doors, at COP28, hundreds of activists from different countries, communities, and organisations united to raise their voices, march for climate justice and call for a ceasefire in Palestine. 

But this wasn’t just taking place at COP; Saturday marked a global day of action, with activists from across the world urging change.

While the protest remained peaceful, uniformed personnel from the UN Department for Safety and Security were present as the it moved through Expo City.

At COP, waving national flags is strictly prohibited, as is mentioning specific countries, and so many of the activists instead carried signage displaying messages in Palestinian colours, and flags emblazoned with watermelons, a symbol of Palestinian solidarity and resistance. 

Speaking to ESG Mena about the imperative for the end of fossil fuel expansion and the damage it is having on communities, one of the activists attending the demonstration, Reverend Dallas Conyers from the U.S. Climate Action Network, said: “What we’re seeing right now is a recolonisation of the planet; Foreign powers have forced their way back into Africa to expand something that we know is harmful – not just for the health of the planet, but to the health of the people.”

Neville Van Rooy, also from the Network, echoed these sentiments and said: “Leaders are negotiating our lands and our livelihoods away with multinational fossil fuel companies, choosing their interests ahead of the interests of the local indigenous people living from the oceans, living in the forest, living in the territories.”

“We will continue to oppose, resist, counter and reject all forms of fossil fuel oppression on the marginalised people of our territories and that is why we’re here to say we want a fast, feminist, fully financed phase-out of fossil fuels forever.”

Conyers added that these entities are bringing forward “unneeded and unnecessary false solutions” for the continuation of oil and gas development, for example, carbon capture and storage, all to protect financial interests. 

Indeed, Heitor Radesca Alvares Scaff, Engajamundo Youth Association, highlighted the hypocrisy of governments rolling back on promises. “On the first day of COP28, Brazil’s presidency and the Minister of Energy, signed up for OPEC Plus. They came to be elected by saying that they would not pursue getting oil from the Amazon River or open up oil places,” he said.

“We want to show the real Brazil now before you get to COP30,” he noted: “We want to advance those conversations so we can get to COP30 in a way better place and we are now.

Elsewhere, Ugandan environmental activist Nyombi Morris spoke of standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine: “This work is about climate justice, but at the same time, we are standing up in solidarity with the people of Gaza. They have been bombed for so many years. Leaders are here, and they are not talking about them. There is no climate justice,” he said. Adding: “We need to stand in solidarity with them.”

The intersection of climate and nature 

Across the rest of the day, the focus was centred on the intersection of climate and nature. 

Considering a report earlier this week that highlighted that five out of the 26 tipping points are currently in jeopardy from global warming, and projections that we’re heading for up to 3 degrees of warming, the outlook feels pretty bleak. 

Nature is a key ally in the climate change fight and must be included in the Global Stocktake if we are to have a chance. 

Yet, today, the United Nations Environment Programme revealed that each year, at least USD 7 trillion is spent on government subsidies and private investment in projects that directly negatively impact nature. This is 30 times more than investments in nature-based solutions, which last year totalled just $200 billion.

That said, 18 countries shared endorsement for the COP28 Joint Statement on Climate, Nature and People to place nature at the heart of climate action. 

Twenty-one countries have also endorsed the Mangrove Breakthrough, which aims to restore and protect 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by the end of the decade.

Petrostate to serve as COP29 host 

In other news, following backing from Russia, Azerbaijan has been announced as the host of COP29. Set to take place in a country where oil and gas production accounts for roughly 47.8% of GDP and over 92.5 % of export revenue, commentators have warned once again that outcomes could be compromised. 

Big meat and dairy show up in force

On the food front, today it came to light that meat and dairy not only have 120 delegates present at the summit, but the number of lobbyists stands at 340, more than double the amount that participated up last year. Further, DeSmog found that one hundred delegates are on the ground as part of country delegations, which, it said, grants privileged access to diplomatic negotiations – a deeply concerning revelation. 

Food and agriculture topics are also not present in the most recent draft of the Global Stocktake, and negotiations around the Joint Work on Agriculture and Food Security (SSJW) have wrapped up without conclusion and are not set to be discussed again until June. 

As we enter the last stage of the summit, ESG Mena will continue to be on the ground with interviews, analysis and updates. Stay tuned. 

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