Mark Magaña and Irene Burga
In a departure from tradition, GreenLatinos decided not to participate in this year’s international climate negotiations for the first time in many years.
Our choice not to participate was prompted by the decision to hold the COP in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, a top oil producer, and the appointment of Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, the CEO of the state-owned oil company, as the summit president. These decisions presented a clear conflict of interest, placing oil and gas polluters’ profit above the urgent need to address the climate crisis and the requirements of communities most impacted by swiftly phasing out fossil fuels.
As the venue for COP28, Dubai was a counterproductive decision for the global fight against the climate crisis. The undue influence of the nearly 2,500 fossil fuel lobbyists on COP28 proceedings, a persistent issue in previous conferences, reached a climax at COP28. Revelations about the Emirates’ misinformation regarding methane emissions, which conveniently allowed them to avoid accountability for a decade, underscored the risks associated with holding a climate conference in a country deeply entwined with the fossil fuel industry.
An Urgent Crisis
Our communities are suffering from the climate chaos caused by these very same oil companies. From extreme drought to torrential rains to deadly storms, our communities are the first to experience the worst of the climate crisis and the last to be addressed. And yet, the needs of our communities, laid out in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, continue to be sidelined in these conferences.
While COP28 unfolded amidst problematic circumstances, it produced a draft decision outlining international climate priorities, including mitigation, adaptation, financing, and support for climate projects. Notably, negotiators agreed to “transition away” from fossil fuel consumption, marking a milestone in calling out fossil fuels. Although this is a positive step in the right direction, the language falls short of a complete phase-out, leaving room for continued extraction and consumption and putting our communities at risk. The text of the draft decision can be found on the UNFCCC’s website here.
An inflection point for action
The United States opened up the COP with a critical announcement finalizing its Methane Oil and Gas rules, a move that will significantly reduce climate pollution and benefit public health, especially for communities near extraction sites. GreenLatinos worked hard with environmental justice, public health, and green group allies to secure this critical win.
GreenLatinos is committed to ensuring that we phase out fossil fuels entirely and eradicate the consumption of these dirty sources of energy permanently. We know this is the fundamental root cause for the disproportionate impacts of climate change our community faces daily. From extreme weather events to chronic illnesses, our comunidades need a solution now, not later.
From extreme weather events to chronic illnesses, our comunidades need a solution now, not later.
COP28, with its ties to oil company executives, did not provide the constructive space we sought, and Dubai’s influence overshadowed meaningful discussions. We commend the efforts of frontline-serving environmental justice organizations who attended to oppose and resist these greenwashing false solutions and fight for stronger language. The UN must listen to frontline communities and put their power to better use at future COP climate change conferences.
The fight continues, and our commitment remains unwavering.
Mark Magaña, Founding President and CEO & Irene Burga, Climate Justice and Clean Air Program Director of GreenLatinos.
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