Home Campaigns Opening statement for the COP26 of UNFCCC

Opening statement for the COP26 of UNFCCC

Opening statement for the COP26 of UNFCCC

We are communities and peoples in the frontlines of the climate and social crises.

We stand to bear their enduring and irreversible environmental and social impacts: rising seas, extreme flooding, water shortages, extinction of species, ecosystem collapse, food insecurity, displacement of tens of millions of people, and loss of lives.

Despite the gravity of the problem, climate ambitions of the world’s leaders remain woefully inadequate. Instead of reducing their emissions, historical polluters pump out even more carbon into the atmosphere. Governments and multilateral development banks continue financing coal and other fossil fuel plants in developing countries, locking our economies and future into dirty and expensive energy sources.

Developed countries skirt culpability for their past, present, and future emissions by promising to achieve ‘net zero’ or ‘carbon neutrality by 2050’: a deceptive language premised on canceling out emissions in the atmosphere through techno-fixes, accounting tricks, and carbon markets, rather than eliminating their cause: the capitalist drive for growth, expansion, and profit.

Indeed, some of the proposals on the table not only distract us from the real plans and actions that equitably and justly address the crisis we face. They also seek to colonize our territories and resources further while profiting off our vulnerability. Projects such as tree and biofuel plantations in developing countries created to give rich countries and their corporations pollution permits drive massive land grabbing and subsequently, the displacement of our indigenous peoples, local communities, and forest dwellers. This is climate imperialism.

Developed countries are not providing their fair share of finance to help us cope with climate change. They could not even deliver the bare minimum of the climate finance they promised more than a decade ago. Instead of settling their climate debt, developed countries are burying us deep in loans for projects that do not address the real needs of the most climate-vulnerable.

Because developed countries are not fulfilling their responsibility, we now contend with the social, economic, environmental, and cultural impacts of climate change that are already beyond adaptation. For years, we have been calling for just compensation to deal with the damages to property and livelihood and loss of biodiversity, culture, community, and lives because of global warming. And yet, rich countries, like the US and UK, that have built their wealth off fossil fuels are blocking efforts that would legalize their liability and obligations.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 further deepens the corporate monopoly of wealth and resources and socio-economic inequalities. Economic recovery strategies dubbed as the “new normal” are increasingly unfolding to be the same policies that have led to the monopolization of natural resources, privatization of social wealth, and rising temperatures. In many instances, with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s urging, important legislation and regulations to protect communities and the environment are reversed.

The crisis is only further aggravated with the erosion of people’s democratic rights, such as our right to access information, participation in the development process, and our right to organize and mobilize.

We are enraged at how the UK government uses COP26 as a public relations stunt to greenwash its image and posture as a global climate leader, despite failing to ensure the safe and democratic participation of parties, civil society, and peoples’ movements from the global South.

We face worsening repression, harassment, imprisonment, and killings at the hands of the state forces and big foreign corporations that want to capture our lands, rivers, mountains, forests, and other natural resources.

We are communities and peoples in the frontlines of the climate and social crises, and we need nothing less than climate justice and system change:

  • We demand historic polluters implement immediate, rapid, and deep emission cuts without the use of tech fixes and false solutions that violate our human rights
  • We demand an equitable and just fossil fuels phaseout at a pace consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius
  • We demand developed countries deliver their promise of $100 billion a year in new and additional public climate finance, while also committing to a new finance goal based on the actual needs of frontline communities
  • We demand advanced capitalist countries to provide additional public finance in compensation to the most affected peoples and areas bearing the brunt of losses and damages from climate breakdown to help them recover and rebuild their lives
  • We reject carbon markets and all other false solutions to climate change that lead to the plunder of our resources by global North countries and corporations
  • We reject imperialist trade pacts that empower polluters and prevent peoples’ access to climate-friendly technologies and low-carbon alternatives
  • We support climate solutions protecting biodiversity and preserving ecological balance while safeguarding food sovereignty and peoples’ rights. Securing land and tenure rights for indigenous peoples, farmers, and local communities are essential in achieving such goals
  • We advocate for community-owned and controlled renewable energy systems
  • We demand the recognition and protection of the rights of land and environmental defenders as essential front liners to the climate crisis
  • In solidarity with the broader sectors and movements working for system change, we call for a new economics for the people and planet, not profits

We are communities and peoples in the frontlines of the climate and social crises.

We vow to fight for these demands inside and outside the official climate negotiations space, with the broad masses in Glasgow and worldwide.

(Thank you to IPMSDL members and friends who are in the video statement: Cindy Kobei of Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program, Javiera Rosa of Make Papua Safe Again Campaign, Lumad teacher Rose of Save Our Schools Network, Deewa de la Cruz of Merdeka West Papua Support Network and IPMSDL Global Coordinator Beverly Longid.)