The ongoing 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) on Climate Change comes at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges. The world’s average temperature is now at 1.1℃. For many years now, we have been experiencing irreversible damage to the planet, and the loss of homelands, cultures, ecosystems, on a daily basis. Record-breaking heat has hit North America, Europe, China, Australia, India and Pakistan, sparking wildfires in many places. Terrible floods have swept Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, and South Africa. Super typhoons have brought untold damage to people and communities in the Philippines, the Caribbean, the Pacific and the gulf and southern areas of the United States.
World governments, especially rich countries have consistently failed to deliver on their climate finance commitments of $100 billion per year. This annual goal urgently needed by grassroots communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change has not been met even once by the governments. There has been constant pushback for a loss and damage finance facility and mechanism that can support vulnerable countries and peoples on the ground recover from climate change induced disasters. Loss and damage were only introduced in the COP27 agenda after consistent push by civil society groups globally.
It is imperative that we stand in solidarity with impacted and frontline communities everywhere for urgent and drastic action to justly address the climate crisis. Like other global crises, climate change arises principally from historically unequal economic and social structures, from practices and policies promoted by rich, industrialised countries, and from systems of production and consumption that sacrifice the needs of the many to the interests of a few. And it is the communities around the world that have contributed the very least to climate change that are paying the highest price – their lives and livelihoods.
If international negotiations are to mean anything, they must deliver outcomes and ensure just and fair sharing of drastic emission reductions in keeping with the goal of limiting the rise of global average temperature to below 1.5º C. Rich countries must deliver fully on their obligations to provide adequate and appropriate climate finance on the basis of countries’ responsibility for climate debt and as part of reparations to all affected peoples. There must be mechanisms that ensure climate finances are rewound to the benefit of peoples and communities most impacted by the climate crisis. Developed countries must support appropriate technology transfers without intellectual property rights barriers.
Will COP27 be another COP where rich countries and big polluters gather to impede the calls of communities fighting for their lives and livelihood every day? No, we cannot stand back and let that happen. COP27 must deliver a strong message to the world that the multilateral system can still play a role in fighting the climate crisis. It cannot be remembered as just another meeting, but as a moment to show major progress through real solutions. It must generate outcomes towards an urgent reset of the system. It’s time to abandon the old, profiteering, polluting world order, and a time to reimagine and rapidly implement global collaboration that centres on equity, science and humanity.