COP28 – UN Climate Change Conference 2023
COP28 in the United Arab Emirates
November 30 – December 12, 2023
The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will convene from 30 November to 12 December 2023 in the United Arab Emirates.
When Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) formed to create a new center of gravity in the climate movement, it was also due to the recognition that there was a need to strengthen democratic representation of frontline community leadership at national climate movement tables, as well as in international spaces such as the United Nations Climate Change conferences.
The yearly UN climate conferences are held in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was established in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Its mission is to stabilize “greenhouse gas emissions at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
The first formal meeting of the UNFCCC parties (Conference of the Parties, COP) took place in 1995 and established the Berlin Mandate, which declared portions of the 1992 Rio Convention “inadequate”. COP1 emphasized the importance of setting specified time frames, and acknowledged that developed nations must play a larger role. The Berlin Mandate led to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, adopted at COP3. The Kyoto Protocol focused on reducing emissions and increasing contributions from wealthier nations, setting a goal of overall emissions reductions of 5 percent below 1990 by 2012, though militaries were given an automatic exemption from emissions reductions, following a pressure campaign by the US government, who never ratified it, citing potential damage to the US economy (watch a video of It Takes Roots putting demilitarization back on the agenda as a climate justice issue in a Grassroots Global Justice-led protest during last year’s COP27 in Egypt).
The Paris Agreement followed at COP21 in 2015 and introduced efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. While the agreement emphasized the need for mitigation and adaptation measures and the need for financial contributions, and technology transfer by developed nations to developing nations, the Paris Agreement never mentioned the need to curb let alone phase out extractive energy, and the goals it set were far below those needed to avert a global catastrophe. The agreement signed by 196 countries did acknowledge the global urgency of the climate crisis, a reflection of the strength of the climate movement. But the accord ignored the roots of the crisis, and the very people who have the experience and determination to solve it. It also relied heavily on “false solutions” such as carbon markets and other offset schemes (promoted in Article 6 of the accord).
COP26 in 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland culminated in the Glasgow Climate Pact. The Pact committed to maintain the 1.5°C goal identified in the Paris Agreement, and for the first time in the history of the UNFCCC, the COP decision called upon Parties to accelerate the phasing down of “unabated coal and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.” Specifically stating that fossil fuel emissions lie at the heart of global climate change is a step forward. However, confronting the climate crisis will require the complete phase-out of all coal and fossil fuel subsidies. False climate “solutions” such as carbon trading, carbon capture and storage, and market-based mechanisms are upheld in the Glasgow Climate Pact as well. Read the It Takes Roots statement on the COP26 decisions.
COP27 in 2022 in Sharm El Shaik, Egypt established a loss and damage fund at COP27 as a historic and welcome first step, but the conference failed once again to confront the vice-grip of the fossil fuel industry. Many countries named the root causes of the climate crisis in coal, oil, and gas, but a handful of Parties shut down needed progress. COP27 was attended by more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists linked to major oil and gas companies, a larger number than the delegation of any single nation. The naming of Sultan Al Jaber, the head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (one of the world’s largest oil producers), to preside over COP28 doesn’t bode well for progress in the United Arab Emirates.
Climate Justice Alliance member groups and allies such as Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous Climate Action, Just Transition Alliance, La Via Campesina, The Black Hive at Movement for Black Lives and others have played pivotal roles in strategic interventions during the conferences to demand strong international agreements that protect and benefit the people most impacted by the climate crisis. Together, we speak truth to power as we confront global leaders, help redefine climate leadership, and ensure that community voices are heard at the highest levels of decision making to keep false solutions off the table.
In order to achieve the policy shifts we need in these UN climate conferences, even the best inside strategies are not strong enough if we don’t organize powerful, grassroots pressure on the outside as well. True climate solutions are coming not from a formal UN negotiation process, but from the growing pressure and power of our collective struggle. Climate Justice Alliance is in unity with blossoming social movements across the globe, led by the people most impacted by the climate crisis. We are pressuring governments for more meaningful action, while implementing our own real solutions on the ground and planning for how vulnerable communities can best survive severe impacts of climate change.
At last year’s #COP27 over 600 fossil fuel lobbyists attended to protect the interests of some of the world’s biggest polluting oil and gas giants. This year, the head of an oil company was tapped to preside over #COP28 in the United Arab Emirates… 😖 https://t.co/YzBv2FWxoM
— Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) 🌻 (@CJAOurPower) January 13, 2023
End the Corporate Capture of COP28
Climate Justice Alliance joined more than 425 climate justice and civil society organizations in calling on the UNFCCC to Kick Big Polluters Out and end the corporate capture of COP28.
No COP overseen by a fossil fuel executive can be seen as legitimate. COP Presidencies must be free and independent of fossil fuel influence. It’s time for the UNFCCC to deliver the long overdue equitable phaseout of fossil fuels. Critically, addressing the real problem of polluting interests only begins here. In addition, we demand:
1 Big Polluters cannot write the rules. Big Polluters must not be allowed to unduly influence climate policymaking. This allows them to continue weaken and undermine the global response to climate change, and it’s why we are on the brink of extinction. The UNFCCC must urgently establish an Accountability Framework, including a regime-wide conflict-of-interest policy, that systematically ends this corporate capture.
2 No more Big Polluters’ bankrolling climate action. No Big Polluter partnership or sponsorships of climate talks or climate action. Not now. Not ever. Major polluters must not be allowed to greenwash themselves and literally buy their way out of culpability for a crisis they have caused. The UNFCCC will always fail to deliver so long as this is deemed acceptable.
3 Polluters out and People in. While civil society has always participated in the COP process, governments have made it more difficult each time for non-governmental organizations and climate justice movements to have their voices heard. We need equitable, meaningful inclusion of civil society. Climate action must center the leadership and lived experience of the people, especially those on the frontlines of the climate crisis. With frontline communities in the lead, we must end the funding and validation of dangerous distractions and false solutions that promote Big Polluters’ profits, enable their abuses, and guarantee decades more of fossil fuel use.
4 Reset the system to protect people and the planet, not Big Polluters. Big Polluters are destroying life as we know it. It’s time to build a new way of living and collaborating that works for people, not polluters, and that restores, rather than destroys, nature. We need real, just, accountable, gender responsive, community-led, nature-restoring, and proven and transformative solutions to be implemented rapidly and justly. We need a total and equitable transition off of fossil fuels. We need real solutions that center the rights of Indigenous peoples, local communities, women, workers, and the protection of those speaking up for justice. We need an end to the impunity of corporate abuses.
Climate Justice Report from the June 2023 It Takes Roots Delegation in Germany
An It Takes Roots delegation was on the ground in Bonn, Germany at the intersessional UNFCCC meeting, where country negotiators set an agenda for COP28. Key topics included the loss and damage fund, carbon markets, Just Transition, and progress toward emissions reduction goals.
Speakers: Adrien Salazar, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (Moderator); Alberto Saldamando, Indigenous Environmental Network; José Bravo, Just Transition Alliance; Peniel Ibe, The Black Hive at Movement for Black Lives; Tamra Gilbertson, Indigenous Environmental Network
If you were worried about fossil fuel industry influence on COP27, then hold on to your freaking hat for COP28
— Rose Abramoff (@ultracricket) January 12, 2023
More than 630 #fossilfuel industry lobbyists participated at #COP27. UAE hosted largest number of lobbyists in its delegation. Rachel Rose Jackson @StopCorpAbuse and Jean Su @CenterForBioDiv tell us why new #COP28 president is a terrifying choice.https://t.co/9g0dcP0zJn
— Demand Climate Justice (@gcdcj) February 2, 2023
Even before the appointment of Al Jaber, the UAE’s track record demonstrates it is not serious about phasing out fossil fuels & keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5° Celsius. Its track record demonstrates it is central to causing the climate crisis, not solving it. #COP28 pic.twitter.com/Al3fGQaLKX
— Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) 🌻 (@CJAOurPower) January 27, 2023
Listen to the conversation between Cooperation Jackson’s Kali Akuno and Kevin Buckland of the Artivist Network about what left social movements could and should do in the wake of the failure of COP27. The conversation was hosted by the Institute for Social Ecology.
Hoodwinked in the Hothouse
Resist False Solutions to Climate Change
Hoodwinked in the Hothouse is an easy-to-read, concise-yet-comprehensive compendium of the false corporate promises that continue to hoodwink elected officials and the public, leading us down risky pathways poised to waste billions of public dollars on a host of corporate snake-oil schemes and market-based mechanisms. These false solutions distract from the real solutions that serve our most urgent needs in an alarming climate justice moment of no-turning-back. By uncovering the pitfalls and risky investments being advanced by disaster capitalists to serve the needs of the biggest polluters on the planet, Hoodwinked also provides a robust framework for understanding the depth of real solutions and how they should be determined. As a pop-ed toolbox, Hoodwinked promises to be instructive for activists, impacted communities and organizers, while providing elected officials with critical lenses to examine a complex, technocratic field of climate change policy strategies, from local to national and international arenas.
Say NO to Article 6
Carbon trading schemes enable emitters to continue polluting wherever they want, as long as they have the money to purchase permits. Learn about Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
Carbon Pricing Report
Carbon market systems will not mitigate climate change, will not advance adaptation strategies, will not serve the most vulnerable communities facing climate change impacts and only protect the fossil fuel industry and corporations from taking real climate action.
Visit CO2colonialism.org to download the toolkits that were created by Indigenous Environmental Network and the Climate Justice Alliance.
The People’s Solutions Lens
for Climate and Economic Policy Proposals at COP28
It can be difficult to keep up with the slew of climate solutions that are going to be discussed at COP28, and not all “solutions” are inherently equitable or just. Fortunately, we’ve identified five straight-forward questions that can help you separate false solutions from the real deal. Use the People’s Solutions Lens to determine whether the various policy proposals that are being brought forward at COP28 are rooted in justice for workers, frontline communities, and the environment:
1Who tells the story? Frontline communities and workers are impacted first and worst by the interlinked crises of climate change and the extractive, exploitative economy. We speak for ourselves, and hold the wisdom, vision, and organizing power to lead climate and economic solutions. Yet, often times, others claim to speak for us without necessarily representing our interests. As we often say, nothing about us without us is for us.
2Who makes the decisions? The environmental justice movement defines environment as “where we live, work, play, and pray.” Whether it’s the factory floor or the neighborhood, those closest to the problems will inevitably know the most about what the solutions need to look like. For any other climate or economic policy to truly work for Indigenous Peoples, Black communities, immigrants and refugees of color, and working class communities, it must embody the practice of community self-determination.
3Who benefits, and how? The climate crisis is ecological, but it has its roots in systemic inequity that is racial, gendered, and economic. To address these root causes, authentic climate and economic policy solutions must flip the existing dynamics around racial injustice, wealth extraction, and labor exploitation.
4What else will this impact? Sometimes environmental and climate policies or “solutions” can create new problems for other issues that we care about— e.g. workers’ rights, housing, economic development, immigration, policing, mass incarceration, etc. Real solutions must work for ALL of our issues. No false solutions. No more sacrifice zones.
5How will this build or shift power? To address the climate crisis at scale, individual and collective solutions must put us in a better position to pursue subsequent solutions. Transformative solutions, then, must do more than accomplish individualized goals, specific policies, or select elections; they must shift the landscape of political, economic, and cultural power such that subsequent goals become more attainable. Climate and economic policy proposals must be organizing tools that bring together a mass movement of people, workers, and communities. This is imperative to ensure the implementation phase is both inclusive and equitable.
This tool was based on a version from Labor Network for Sustainability and Climate Justice Alliance, adapted from the original People’s Solutions Lens—a collaborative creation by It Takes Roots (a frontline formation composed of Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Right to the City Alliance) and their Funder Support Circle. For more information on It Takes Roots, and to view the original People’s Solutions Lens, visit: www.ItTakesRoots.org/peoplesorientation
COP27 in Sharm El Shaik, Egypt
COP26: The Net Zero COP
COP25 and the Cumbre de los Pueblos
The 25th UN Conference of Parties (COP25) took place from Dec. 2-13, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. Our work at COP25 included pushing back against Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which supports Carbon Pricing and offsets, exposing the threat of Geoengineering, building for a Just Transition, and coordination with others around Frontline Green New Deal work.
COP25 was initially scheduled to take place in Chile. However, a massive popular feminist and student uprising against neoliberalism, forced the Chilean government to move COP25 to Spain. Part of our delegation traveled to Chile nonetheless to stand with the courageous Chilean social movements, and to join the Cumbre de los Pueblos.
It Takes Roots threw down with the youth of SustainUS and organized an intervention during the US administration panel, which pushed for the continual use of fossil fuels and dirty energy. We interrupted Trump’s Energy advisor, Wells Griffith, with laughter then chanted “Keep It In The Ground” as we brought frontline speakers upfront.
It Takes Roots is a multiracial and inter-generational effort led by women and gender oppressed Indigenous Peoples, Black, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and poor white communities on the frontlines of racial, housing and climate justice across Turtle Island. The collaboration began during the organizing for the Peoples Climate March in 2014 and has since continued to build a Visionary Opposition.
Today It Takes Roots has alliance members in 200 organizations and in more than 50 states, provinces and Indigenous territories, nationwide and in Canada, Guam and Puerto Rico.