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725 African CSOs demand real action, reject net zero at COP26

COP26 protests

African climate justice civil society groups have urged governments of Africa attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC’s) Conference of Parties (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, to advance solutions that will build resilience of the indigent communities and to demonstrate commitment for the continent’s fair share of global climate change action.

Additionally, over 725 civil society groups from nearly 100 countries including 130 African organisations have called on governments and leading international institutions to end reliance on “Net Zero” promises.

They also demanded commitment to specific, ambitious, and immediate actions to bring emissions and fossil fuel production down to real zero, consistent with science and equity.

These demands come as country delegations and corporations arrive at COP26, touting Net Zero pledges premised on mid-century emissions targets, offset-based carbon accounting tricks, and illusory and dangerous technologies like carbon capture, blue hydrogen, and bioenergy.

Such pledges, the Groups said in statement, mask climate inaction and provide cover for business-as-usual fossil fuel production that spells planetary destruction.

The Groups insist that the so-called solution that enables Big Polluters to buy more room to continue to emit only binds people, especially in the poor regions like Africa, into decades of more devastation.

Corporate Accountability Director, Climate Campaign for Africa, Hellen Neima, was quoted: “After weakening the Paris Agreement, polluting governments and corporations are burying real solutions that stop emissions at source in favour of empty promises disguised by the catchy ‘net zero’ slogan.

“Fortunately, this big con has been exposed for the scam that it is. Governments at COP26- especially Global North governments- need to stop condemning the world and heed the demands of the people by committing to real solutions and Real Zero right now.”

On his part, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nnimmo Bassey, said: “The polluting rich countries and corporations are fully on ground in Glasgow to promote their Net zero scam which will only bolster corporate power and further delay the urgent actions needed to address the climate crisis.”

The Africa CSOs joint statement notes that Africa contributed and still contributes insignificantly to the current climate crisis yet is the most adversely affected by its consequences.

“It will only be strategic for the governments of the continent to project a harmonized position and engage the discussions with a ‘common language’ premised on uniform climate actions that won’t compromise each nation’s peculiarities.”

After weakening the Paris Agreement, polluting governments and corporations are burying real solutions that stop emissions at source in favour of empty promises disguised by the catchy ‘net zero’ slogan.

They further urge African governments attending the COP to:

  • Challenge and reject pledges made by polluting corporations and governments to achieve “net zero” emissions, which are being used to shift additional burdens onto the African region and avoid responsibility for their role in the global share of emissions to-date.
  • Commit to achieving Real Zero emissions reductions, embracing the concept of equity (each country does their fair share).
  • Reject industry-driven attempts to ram through rules enshrining market mechanisms into the centre of Paris Agreement implementation, via the guidelines for Article 6.2 and 6.4 of the Paris Agreement.
  • Governments across the region must come up with real climate change plans (adaptation and mitigation) and reflect the same in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • Secure concrete outcomes advancing policies to implement real solutions via Article 6.8 of the Paris Agreement.
  • Advancing a strong argument to commit industrialized and wealthy countries to provide adequate climate financing for the implementation of its adaptation and mitigation plans.
  • Ensure that the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of African countries are independent of false solutions and corporations’ influences, but rather accommodates workable and home-grown climate solutions on mitigation and adaptations.

Global Gathering

Ahead of the COP26, Oilwatch International Global Gathering, during its maiden meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State, Nigeria, last month, had also called for real options as a way out of the climate quagmire.       

Participants deliberated on the failure of the COP, which they said over the years has become an avenue for trade talks, commercial pledges, and avoidance of real action irrespective of the glaring unfolding climate catastrophe.

They noted that at a time when the world is experiencing extreme weather events including droughts, wildfires, cyclones, hurricanes and floods, leaders are getting sucked into false solutions that lock in dependence on fossil fuels with the promises of techno-fixes for carbon removals, solar radiation management and/or carbon offsets.

The implications of fossil fuels exploitation on human rights and on primary economies including agriculture, fisheries, and livelihoods of community folks were also discussed.

Participants had, among others, demanded a halt to the propagation of false narratives such as Net Zero emissions at a time the world requires real zero emissions as the way out of calamitous climate change.

For them, COP26 should not be an arena for deliberations on false notions such as nature based solutions, net zero, carbon neutrality, carbon offsetting but rather real actions including keeping fossil fuel resources in the ground.

Ensure a global just transition to 100% access to renewable energy, with no corporate and no extensive base, that contribute to energy sovereignty, support for dependent economies to diversify away from fossil fuels

They called on all governments to urgently go back to a binding global emissions reduction rather than the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which according to the UN computation of submissions made so far will lead the world to a calamitous temperature increase of up to 2.7°C above pre-industrial levels.

There should be no new coal, oil, or gas extraction expansion plans in line with the best available science as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Phase-out of existing extraction of fossil fuels in a manner that is fair and equitable, taking into consideration the respective dependency of countries and the importance of transitioning workers in the fossil fuels industry to more social, environment and climate friendly sectors.

Ensure a global just transition to 100% access to renewable energy, with no corporate and no extensive base, that contribute to energy sovereignty, support for dependent economies to diversify away from fossil fuels, and enable all people and communities, especially in the Global South, to flourish.

The declaration, which was endorsed by 28 CSOs across the world, also urged that oil impacted communities that suffer impacts like the Niger Delta, or Ecuadorian Amazon, must be properly cleaned up, while oil companies should be held accountable and to discontinue the impunity.

Also, fossil fuel and other extractive companies and their enabling governments linked to human rights abuses must be held accountable, compelled to divest, and obligated to justly compensate environmental defenders, climate activists, and communities they have victimized.

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