COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

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COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:05 am

“No Climate Justice Without Human Rights”: Groups Protest Inaction, Repression at U.N. Summit in Egypt
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 14, 2022 ... transcript

Democracy Now! is in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where the COP27 U.N. climate conference has entered its second week amid protests against the host government’s repression and world leaders’ inaction on the climate crisis. We speak with Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want and lead spokesperson for the Climate Justice Coalition, who risked arrest to participate in a climate justice protest along with hundreds of others in Egypt on Saturday. “You can’t have the very people burning the planet sitting here and pretending to be drafting the solutions to it, and that’s exactly what’s happening in these climate negotiations,” says Rehman. He says imprisoned Egyptian British activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah is “part and parcel of our struggle,” as calls to free El-Fattah continue after he sent proof of life in a letter for the first time since beginning a full hunger and water strike last week. We also speak with Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, who says the perception that this is an African COP is “a big misnomer,” as the African delegates feel largely excluded.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit, COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

On Saturday, hundreds of protesters marched inside the conference venue, calling on wealthy nations to pay reparations for their role in causing the climate crisis. The United States is the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. On Friday, President Biden attended the climate talks in Egypt and pledged to spend $11 billion annually on international climate aid.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We’re racing forward to do our part to avert the “climate hell” that the U.N. secretary-general so passionately warned about earlier this week. We’re not ignoring harbingers that are already here. It’s true so many disasters — the climate crisis is hitting hardest those countries and communities that have the fewest resources to respond and to recover. That’s why last year I committed to work with our Congress to quadruple U.S. support to climate finance and provide $11 billion annually by 2024, including $3 billion for adaption.

AMY GOODMAN: President Biden was briefly disrupted by a group of youth and Indigenous activists from the United States who unfurled a large banner reading “People vs. Fossil Fuels.” Climate justice activists criticized the United States for not doing more and questioned whether Congress would approve even a fraction of Biden’s pledge.

Meanwhile, as the U.N. climate summit enters its second week here, pressure is growing on the Egyptian government to release political prisoners, including the imprisoned writer and technologist, activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah. Alaa’s sister, Sanaa Seif, led Saturday’s climate march, where many chanted “No climate justice without human rights.”

To talk about all of this and more, we’re joined by Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want and lead spokesperson for the Climate Justice Coalition.

Asad, welcome back to Democracy Now!

ASAD REHMAN: Real pleasure. And a pleasure to see you in person.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to see you in person. This is our first major trip since the pandemic. Asad, this is a very different kind of summit, as what is laid on the table, not by the states but by civil society, is that human rights and climate justice must be considered as one. Can you talk about the joining of these two specifically when it comes to the demand for the release of the leading political prisoner in Egypt, not to mention thousands of others that are held, Alaa Abd El-Fattah?

ASAD REHMAN: Well, for the climate justice movement, human rights has been an inextricable part of it. I mean, ultimately, the fight around climate crisis is the most basic of right, the right to be able to live and survive and live with dignity. But we also know that, within our movement, that as we make demands, our movements face repression and criminalization. Two environmental defenders are murdered each and every week around the world. We know that criminalization is now taking place in the Global North with the right to protest being restricted, as well as in the Global South.

So we came here knowing that, of course, our fight for climate justice was a fight for human rights. And we have always listened to and responded to the call of our movements where the COP takes place as to the issues they want to raise up, how we can best support them, how we can amplify their voice. And, of course, the call to free Alaa has been one that has been very central to climate justice organizations coming to the COP and obviously raising our voices here.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, there have been a number of Egyptian activists that didn’t even make it to the COP before they were imprisoned in Egypt, where this COP is being held. The significance of this?

ASAD REHMAN: Well, let’s be realistic. The things we can do inside this COP venue, including the right to march, are denied to the majority of Egyptians. They’re denied the right to association, right to free speech, right to organize, right to protest. So, when we came here, we recognized that many of our movements would not be able to be here in person because of repression. The space itself is deliberately chosen to be quite distant from major population areas. There are huge restrictions, that are, of course, a huge security operation taking place all around the COP, both inside and outside. And many of the Egyptian human rights activists and environmental and climate justice activists, of course, are already in prison, 60,000 of them in prison. So —

AMY GOODMAN: More than the number of people attending this summit —

ASAD REHMAN: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: — which is tens of thousands of people.

ASAD REHMAN: Absolutely. So, it was an obligation onto us, those who can attend here, who can be here, that we raise the voices of those people who were denied the opportunity to be here. Civil society has always been the ears and eyes and voice of frontline communities. And there is no more frontline community than those people who are behind bars for demanding a better world, the one that we are here fighting for.

AMY GOODMAN: Just before we went to air, Asad, here at COP27, I spoke to the longtime Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, about the protests here, both for climate justice and for human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: You were at the protest on Saturday. Can you talk about the significance of that protest?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Well, this was a very peculiar kind of protest, because usually we march on the streets of cities, but here we were having a protest march within the confined perimeters of the official COP venue. It was very surreal, and we just moved over a short distance. But still, again, in a certain sense, it showed the resilience of the people, because we didn’t want to legitimize any kind of controlled march in the city or in the town. So this was very important.

And then, the demands were mostly just denouncing the COP itself as lost and damaged. The COP is lost and damaged. And we also made very clear that net zero is a hopeless idea, because just pushing the — because we’re, eventually, using mathematics to solve the problem and then pushing the burden on the young people to whom the future belongs. And then we asked for, instead of just talking about loss and damage, that what we should be discussing at this time, because of extreme degradation, is the payment of a climate debt, which takes care of historical responsibility as well as current responsibility.

AMY GOODMAN: You were standing in the frontline right near Sanaa Seif, who is the sister of Alaa Abd El-Fattah. Can you talk about the significance of him in a desert prison while this COP goes on, and what the demand was?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Well, I think the key short phrase to capture it all is that there can be no climate justice without human rights. That was the slogan, and that really captures the situation. And we’re very worried about the human rights situation in Egypt and the activists who are in detention, who are on hunger strike and who are just suffering out there. And here we are discussing as though nothing is going on, nothing is — as if everything is normal. So, the march having that demand for the release of political — of Earth defenders, environmental defenders, of Alaa himself, was very extremely significant, really much.

AMY GOODMAN: And there was going to be a human rights conference right after COP in Cairo. What happened?

NNIMMO BASSEY: That meeting in Cairo would have shown that there’s a space for conversation in the country. But just when activists were getting ready to go to Cairo, to book their flight, book their hotels, we just got information that the meeting would not take place because it’s no longer authorized.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, this is called the Africa COP, the African U.N. climate summit.

NNIMMO BASSEY: It’s a big misnomer. This is not an African COP. Africa is not here. The poor people who are suffering floods, droughts and all kinds of adverse situations, they are not here. They can’t afford to get here. They wouldn’t get accreditation. They can’t afford the accommodation in this city that is mostly for tourists. It is a totally exclusive COP. I mean, the other COPs were exclusive, but this is super exclusive. We are all cordoned into a peninsula, cut off from even the country in which we are supposed to be. This is not an African COP. We are [inaudible] COP, another failed COP.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, speaking about whether this is Africa’s COP, as Egypt and other countries are billing it, though not necessarily African countries. Asad Rehman, if you can talk more about what that means, and who is represented here?

ASAD REHMAN: Well, who is represented here, we’re told, is tens of thousands of people represented here. Some of them are, of course, civil society, but there has been huge barriers to people being able to attend, particularly from Egypt itself and from the region, of costs, etc. But the majority of this climate negotiation has become a trade fair. We see corporate lobbyists. We’re seeing hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists, many of them on government delegations now. We see big business here, saying, “We are providing the solutions,” while, of course, ordinary people and the people on the frontlines, whether they’re in Pakistan, Nigeria or across the Horn of Africa, and their movements aren’t physically here, which is why human rights is such an important part of what we’ve raised, because — you know, the case of Alaa is not about an individual. It is about symbolizing the reality of repression and criminalization and our desire that — not just free Alaa, but free them all. And when we say the “free them all,” of course that means not just the Egyptian prisoners, but all of our political prisoners around the world.

AMY GOODMAN: And when it comes to, for example, Alaa, do you think the Sisi regime is responding in any way? I mean, do you think it is possible he will be freed, on a hunger strike for the last seven months, now just completing a complete hunger fast without water for the last week?

ASAD REHMAN: Look, the Egyptian presidency thought that this COP would be the one where they would, you know, be able to shake hands, sign deals, do all of these background deals, do trade deals, and would bask in the fact that, you know, they were the ones that could deliver finally something positive on loss and damage, for example.

And instead, they have been faced with the reality that we, as civil society, have said, “Hold on. We’re not allowing business as usual. Actually, we’re not allowing you to bury the voice of the family of Alaa. The call for 'free Alaa' is a part and parcel of our struggle. And we’ve made it.”

So, yes, President Macron, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, they all came here, but they all did nothing. They left — they didn’t leave with Alaa. They didn’t get consular access for Alaa. But we, as civil society, have been relentless here, not only in terms of press conferences [inaudible] —

AMY GOODMAN: And just to say, consular access because he is not only an Egyptian citizen, but a British citizen, as well.

ASAD REHMAN: Yes, he’s a dual national. And until this morning, we didn’t even have proof of life. We didn’t — his family didn’t know whether he was alive or dead, whether he was being force-fed, whether he’s — etc.

And I think the pressure we’ve been putting here — the march, the press conference or the constant letter, the fact that we didn’t allow political leaders to come here and ignore the case of Alaa — has made a difference. We’re now saying it’s week two; the end goal is that Alaa leaves before this COP ends.

AMY GOODMAN: So, next year’s COP is in the United Arab Emirates, the country with the largest number of delegates here. I think there are about a thousand delegates from the United Arab Emirates. A number of them have links to fossil fuel industry. I mean, Global Witness has found that there is a — that the number of delegates with links to fossil fuels has increased 25% overall from the summit in Glasgow. But with the UAE, it also has one of the highest carbon emissions per capita in the world, not to mention its shameful human rights record, when you look at the workers and what has happened to them, the number of deaths of workers in the UAE. How do you interpret the decision of the COP to hold next year in UAE, following this year in Egypt?

ASAD REHMAN: I think, quite rightly, people would be absolutely shocked. Look, civil society have always said, you know, there should be some criteria. There should be criteria about where the COP is held. But there should also be criteria about who’s invited into this COP. That’s why civil society have asked for a conflict of interest, to be able to say, “Who are these delegates? What are their interests? What links do they have with the fossil fuel industry?” You can’t have the very people burning the planet sitting here and pretending to be drafting the solutions to it. And that’s exactly what’s happening in these climate negotiations.

I think what we are seeing now, increasingly civil society is saying these spaces need to be judged on their outcomes and their action and how they respond to the fact that we’re in an interconnected crisis of which human rights is a central part of it. So we’ll be taking that message forward. We’ll be saying, wherever the COP is held, we will be raising the voice about human rights. As civil society, that’s our commitment. And it won’t just be during the COP; it will be up to, during and after the COP, because this is the movement that we are creating, and this is the world that we want to create, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned loss and damage. Interestingly, Nnimmo Bassey said this U.N. climate summit is lost and damaged. But that is U.N. speak. Explain what that actually means on the ground in so many countries around the world.

ASAD REHMAN: So, when we look at the climate crisis, I would say there are three things that need to be done. There is the stop doing harm, i.e. stop emitting more pollution in the atmosphere. And there, we’ve seen rich countries refusing to do their fair share. And we’re heading, of course, towards a warming that could be close to 3 degrees.

Repair the harm, which is, in U.N. terms, adaptation. So, how do we live with the fact that we live in a warming planet? And that’s adaptation. That’s not just building seawalls. It’s how do we protect our food production, how do we guarantee people’s social protection, living wages. These are all the resilience that people need.

But the third element is you have to pay compensation for the damage you’ve caused, right? And that’s both economic damages, but of course there are damages which are beyond putting a cost on it — the cultures of people, people’s lands being lost. And loss and damage is the third element of that. And increasingly, the less we do of the first, the more we need to do of the third.

And so, the call here is that we must have a fund on loss and damage. And I hope by the end of the week, and I hope when ministers arrive today and we get into the political negotiations, that we can bridge that gap.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about Biden’s promise of $11 billion, and where Biden is right now, in Bali, Indonesia, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, what we have to understand about the U.S., the historically, by far, largest greenhouse gas emitter, and currently China, the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world?

ASAD REHMAN: So, this — I mean, from the United States’ perspective, you know, their line within these climate negotiations has always been very, very simple: “Yes, we recognize we have the largest historical responsibility. We don’t want to be liable for the damages we’ve caused. We don’t want to even talk about the fact that we’re the most. We should start the clock again right from now. And everybody should do the same action, and everybody should be responsible.” And, of course, what they mean also is, “You, China and India, you must also do what we are being expected to do.”

And, of course, from China and India’s perspective, it’s “Hold on. Eighty-three percent of this emissions is you. Why are you telling us? We’ve only just been — recently begun to pollute. Yes, we have to reduce our emissions, but you reduce them first. You put the money on the table to help the poorer countries. You live up to your liabilities, your responsibilities, your obligations. And then we’ll talk about ours.”

So, there is a challenge going on in terms of here between, of course, the richest countries. It’s often said, you know, when the United States sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. But when the United States refuses to take action, the rest of the world burns. And that’s the reality of what we’ve seen, that the United States has to live up to its responsibility of cutting emissions.

Now, President Biden came here last week, and he made a speech about climate change. And, of course, back home, we’re also — the United States, just like the United Kingdom and the European Union, is expanding oil and gas. And that’s exactly why the United Arab Emirates feels so able to have a thousand delegates here, in fossil fuels, because what they’re saying is, “Well, oil and gas can be the fuels of the future.” I mean, it’s impossible. How mad is that? But that’s because what we’ve seen here is a new part of a conversation which is largely about how do we remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and it’s all about carbon capture and storage, basically faulty, unproven technologies to allow the fossil fuel industry to continue as business as usual.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you for being with us, Asad, and we hope to come back to you this week or next, as the U.N. climate summit wraps up at the end of the week. We’ll be here throughout. Asad Rehman is executive director of War on Want, lead spokesperson for the Climate Justice Coalition.

Yes, coming up, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping have just held their first in-person meeting since Biden became president. We’ll get a response. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: “Free Leonard Peltier” by Joe Troop in conjunction with the American Indian Movement, which organized Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice, a 1,100-mile march over two-and-a-half months from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Washington, D.C., that concluded Sunday. Marchers were calling for the release of Peltier, a Native American activist who’s been in prison since 1977.
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Re: COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:07 am

“Carbon Billionaires”: Oxfam Calls for Taxing Rich Who Profit from Emissions Fueling Climate Crisis
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 11, 2022 ... l_industry

A new Oxfam analysis finds the investments of the world’s richest people are emitting 3 million tons a year — more than a million times the average person’s output. The report, titled “Carbon Billionaires,” suggests a wealth tax could help fund urgent climate action in developing countries. The analysis shows “how much power and control a few people have over our economic system and, beyond that, our way of life, our survival as humanity,” says Ashfaq Khalfan, climate justice director at Oxfam America. Khalfan also responds to U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s new carbon offset proposal, which he calls a “distraction” that will delay action on public financing of climate action.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

As President Biden arrives at the U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, then heads to the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, a new Oxfam analysis looks at the investments of 125 of the world’s richest billionaires and reveals that, on average, they’re emitting 3 million tons a year of carbon — more than a million times the average person. The report is titled “Carbon Billionaires” and suggests a wealth tax could help curb the urgent climate finance needs of developing countries.

For more, we go to London, where we’re joined by the report’s co-author, Ashfaq Khalfan, climate justice director at Oxfam America.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! So, tell us who the climate billionaires are and just how much carbon dioxide they are emitting.

ASHFAQ KHALFAN: The carbon billionaires represent household names, billionaires who you can imagine who they are. So, we looked at the richest 220 people and assessed which of them there was data for the emissions from their investments. So these are not emissions from their personal lifestyles — the private jets, the large houses — but from where they decide to put their money. And, you know, we find that they tend to do it more in polluting industries rather than in clean industries, twice the average investor.

And so, the amounts are staggering. I mean, the amount emitted by one of these average billionaires is the same as, you know, the equivalent of 4 million people going vegan, and thus not — and reducing their emissions, or flying around the Earth 16 million times in a private jet. The amounts are just staggering. And we were surprised. And it just goes to show how much power and control a few people have over our economic system and, beyond that, our way of life, our survival as humanity.

AMY GOODMAN: So, as you say, the investments of 125 billionaires produce 393 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, equivalent CO2 output to the entire country of France, makes the average billionaires’ annual emissions a million times higher than a person in the poorest 90% of the world’s population.

So, number one, how is this curbed? And number two, what is Oxfam right now — this report, released during the U.N. climate summit, which Democracy Now! will be broadcasting from live all next week in Sharm el-Sheikh — what are you demanding at this point? What do you think can change the course of who is destroying the planet and how to turn that around?

ASHFAQ KHALFAN: The answer really lies with governments. They have the power to regulate the billionaires in a couple of ways. One is through a wealth tax. That will actually raise money, reduce the extent of the control of the billionaires and raise a huge amount of money. It could raise something like $1.4 trillion a year. That’s a significant amount. And that could pay for the annual requirements to help poor countries adapt to climate change, protect their people from climate change, address the — repair the harms caused — you know, repairing the schools, helping people rebuild their lives — and contribute to the transition to clean energy, renewable energy across the world. That could be done just with a wealth tax.

We’re not only recommending that. We’re also recommending a tax on the profits from fossil fuels, from corporate taxes, as well as the earnings of billionaires — not a temporary tax, but one which is permanent and would create an incentive for these billionaires to shift their funds to cleaner sources of energy. In fact, they should actually be funding the renewable energy revolution, and they’re not — they’re just not doing that. So, governments have the power to leverage these changes. They can also require companies to reduce their emissions, to shift to science-based targets, even report their emissions.

By the way, I should say that the emissions that we’ve talked about, these are an underestimate. These are only their reported emissions. This is only what they admit to. And it’s only their direct emissions. It doesn’t include the emissions from their products. So we’ve taken a very, very conservative approach, so that we can be absolutely sure about the numbers. But it’s an underestimate. And it doesn’t even include the emissions that come from the policies that billionaires are pushing, you know, in terms of their funding of politicians and what they ask politicians to do when they pick up the phone.

AMY GOODMAN: Ashfaq, you tweeted about what the U.S. Climate Ambassador John Kerry has just announced at the U.N. climate summit. The whole Biden team has just arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh. Wednesday was finance day at COP27. The U.S. Climate Ambassador Kerry took the opportunity to make a pitch to help developing economies transition from coal to clean energy. He proposed creating a new carbon market, a way for corporations to fund efforts to decommission coal plants and build wind and solar projects in exchange for carbon credits that can be used to bolster their green image. Now, there’s also a lot of criticism of this.

ASHFAQ KHALFAN: That’s right. I mean, first of all, you know, his intentions are — it’s good he’s trying to do that, but he’s going about it the wrong way. Those carbon credits are illusory. It’s very unlikely that it’s going to generate anything like the amount of money that’s required to fund that transition. Carbon credits, there’s a long history of them being a mirage, used as false solutions, really, by a lot of the fossil fuel interests to avoid action, to delay action. And there’s no reason to believe that this would be any different.

It’s really a pity that they are distracting from what they really need to do, which is to raise the public finance, which is needed. If governments put on the table a significant amount of public finance, that will draw in the private investments that’s needed. And that’s, essentially, the way it needs to be done.

You know, during COP — and you’ll probably see this next week, as well, when you’re there — Secretary Kerry keeps talking about how difficult it is to get the money out of Congress. In fact, he said a couple of times that, “Oh, you know, if the Republicans win Congress, we won’t be able to — that’s the end of climate finance,” which, you know, that’s a pity that he’s talking down what can be achieved. And he’s proposing alternative solutions that could then be taken up by those who are opposed to international climate finance, but, unfortunately, will just not work.

The thing is, we don’t have time to wait and see it not work. It’s too urgent to provide the money really quickly, really soon. And so, we are saying that Secretary Kerry and President Biden have to make climate finance a nonnegotiable in Congress and make the hard case. You know, they can be strong when they want to. They’ve done it before, throughout their lives. And they need to do so now, because it may seem like something technical or something remote from the concerns of the average American, but I think average Americans know the climate crisis will affect them and everybody else. And climate finance is necessary. We won’t be able to protect people across the world if developing countries don’t have the resources they need to shift to renewable energy. So it’s existential for everybody, and it’s a worthwhile investment to be making.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about this new AP report that says, “The war-inspired natural gas boom is undermining already insufficient efforts to limit future warming to just a few more tenths of a degree. … Planning and [build-up] of liquified and other natural gas — due to an energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — would add 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent … a year to the air by 2030.” This is according to a report that came out of Climate Action Tracker at the U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. Your response?

ASHFAQ KHALFAN: Well, they’re absolutely right. And it’s really great that you’re talking about this. It is a real worry. There is a gas shortage in Europe, and that’s genuine. There are energy needs every day, and people — those needs need to be met. But what’s pretty despicable is seeing a lot of fossil fuel interests take advantage of that to promote growth, which is not — growth in fossil fuel infrastructure, which is not necessary to meet the urgent needs of — the energy needs of today. Things are shown to have come online in the next few years but will exist in a decade as carbon assets that will be used.

Governments really should instead be doubling down on energy efficiency, on the switch to renewables, doing things — you know, insulating homes, things that can be done really quickly within a six-month time frame, reducing that energy demand and providing people, everybody, with the support, the information, the subsidies that are required to do that. That’s the way. That’s the solution to the natural gas crisis.

It is really disappointing that in the United States we see permitting reform being pushed as a solution, when it’s a false solution and one which will really safeguard fossil fuel interests, including the carbon billionaires, many of whom are actually pushing these sorts of changes at the expense of communities whose rights — you know, Indigenous people — will be harmed.

AMY GOODMAN: Ashfaq, we only have 10 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: Have any of the carbon billionaires responded to your report?

ASHFAQ KHALFAN: Not that I’m aware of. I’m sure they will.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you so much for being with us. Ashfaq Khalfan is climate justice director at Oxfam America, co-author of the new report, “Carbon Billionaires.” We will link to that report. He was speaking to us from London.

Democracy Now! is headed to Sharm el-Sheikh, where all next week we will be covering the U.N. climate summit there in Egypt, bringing you reports from on the ground inside and outside the summit.
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Re: COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:08 am

Greenpeace: As Egypt Hosts COP27, Country’s Agricultural Sector Ravaged by Impact of Climate Crisis
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 14, 2022 ... ate_crisis

As the U.N. climate conference takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, we look at the effects of the climate crisis for the host country, such as rising temperatures and sea levels in the Nile Delta. Ahmed El Droubi, Greenpeace regional campaign manager for the Middle East and North Africa, says “the most significantly impacted sector in Egypt is definitely the agricultural sector.” Egyptians are calling for wealthy nations to be held accountable for causing the bulk of the climate crisis, only to be met with “temporary solutions that do not address the core of the climate crisis,” he adds.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting live from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, a country that is warming faster than the global average and in many ways is a bellwether for the painful effects of climate change.

Egypt is facing everything from rising seas and drought to desertification and deadly heat. The Nile Delta is considered one of the most vulnerable large deltas in the world to be directly affected by climate change by 2050, according to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Egyptian farmers are already struggling after changing weather patterns have severely affected crop yields in a country that's facing rising food insecurity. Along with agricultural productivity, water scarcity and soil salination are among the most pressing issues Egypt faces.

Egyptian authorities have launched a national strategy for tackling climate change for 2050, in which the government would spend $113 billion for adaptation programs. It envisions almost half that budget going to agriculture, although it says most of the money has yet to be raised.

For more on the climate crisis here in Egypt, as well as the rest of the region, we’re joined by Ahmed El Droubi, Greenpeace regional campaign manager for the Middle East and North Africa.

It’s great to have you with us. We only have a few minutes, but if you could lay out the scope of the issue as we sit here right next to the Red Sea?

AHMED EL DROUBI: Well, you highlighted — well, first of all, thank you for hosting.

First of all, you highlighted it very — you summed it up very well. The most significantly impacted sector in Egypt is definitely the agricultural sector. And it’s facing many different threats. We have already seen the impacts happening, especially over the last decade. For example, something like the olive harvest has been impacted heavily at least five out of the last 10 years. There are many risks to more significant crops, such as wheat, which is the source of our subsistence in this country. And this is made so much worse by geopolitical events, such as the war in Ukraine, where Egypt imports 60% of its wheat, a majority of which comes from Russia and Ukraine.

And we are feeling the impacts of the global food crisis here more significantly than elsewhere. What we’ve seen in the agricultural sector is that new pests and new diseases have been able to acclimatize to the changes in weather. We’ve seen that seasons have been shortened, and therefore impacting yields. We’ve seen that waves of heat or cold waves can impact yields significantly, as well. And we’ve had our mango season impacted heavily last year, which is a vital crop for a great deal of farmers in eastern Egypt, in the kind of canal region, where they suffered a great deal of economic losses. The Nile Delta is known to be threatened to be, you know, covered by sea water. But now we can see an impact. Soil salinification and sea water infusion is happening. If you simply look at satellite images, you can see that the first rows of farms across the Delta have changed into — have moved into aquaculture and are no longer able to provide food. And it’s a growing crisis.

And the Nile itself, models predict that the standard deviation will increase by 50%. That means, in the future, it’s double as likely for droughts or floods to happen. And this lack of predictability, along with the fact that Egypt is already under the water poverty line, and putting into that the geopolitical issues with Ethiopia, with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, it creates a high likelihood of conflict, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think Egypt has to do? And what do you think the nations that are most responsible for the climate crisis, like the U.S. and China and Western countries, need to do, in this last minute we have?

AHMED EL DROUBI: Well, this is the point of these negotiations. And it’s — you know, it’s an oversimplification, but it hits the nail on the head. For 30 years we’ve been negotiating one question: whether those that have caused this climate crisis will be held accountable and liable for their actions. And so far, they have refused to take responsibility. The founding principles of the UNFCCC, of common but differentiated responsibility and the polluter pays, have been watered down over decades. And sadly, we are seeing this today with negotiations around loss and damage, even after the horrendous impacts of the climate emergency this year, especially in Pakistan, Nigeria and many other places. 'Til today, we are looking for — they're proposing false solutions, temporary solutions, that do not address the core of the climate crisis.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, that’s what we’re going to be doing all week, is addressing the core issues here: who’s responsible, what needs to be done. Ahmed El Droubi is the Greenpeace regional campaign manager for the Middle East and North Africa. That’s right. All this week, Democracy Now! is broadcasting live from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from the COP27, 27th Conference of Parties, the U.N. climate summit.
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Re: COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:10 am

Hossam Bahgat on the “Full-Scale Human Rights Crisis” in Egypt as Country Hosts COP27
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 15, 2022 ... transcript

Broadcasting from COP27, the U.N. climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, we speak to leading Egyptian human rights advocate and journalist Hossam Bahgat about how authorities have launched a widespread crackdown on political dissent. Hundreds have been arrested, including lawyers and journalists, and police have been stopping people randomly on the streets of Cairo and other cities to search the contents of their phones. Meanwhile, imprisoned British Egyptian activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah has sent a letter notifying his family that he has stopped his hunger strike and asked for them to visit on Thursday. Bahgat disagrees with calls to boycott COP27, and gained entry through asking a foreign environmental group to include him. “Sustained engagement with the Egyptian government in public and private about its catastrophic human rights record can actually lead to some change,” says Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We are broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Tens of thousands of delegates have come here to Sharm el-Sheikh to attend the COP27 U.N. climate conference. The summit is taking place under the most repressive regime in the history of the modern Egyptian state. Over the past decade, there’s been an unprecedented crackdown on human rights, on civil society, on the media, on environmental activism and much more. Tens of thousands of political prisoners are behind bars, the most prominent of which is the technologist, the activist, the writer Alaa Abd El-Fattah, whose case has become a lightning rod here at the summit and who just ended a more than seven-month-long hunger strike.

Meanwhile, outside Sharm, in Cairo and cities across Egypt, security forces have launched a widespread crackdown in the days leading up to and during the summit. Hundreds have been arrested. Security forces have locked down the streets, stopping random passers-by, forcibly searching for content on their phones. Lawyers and journalists have been detained, including, most recently, the journalist Ahmed Fayez, who was arrested after posting that Alaa Abd El-Fattah had been subject to a forced medical intervention. The Egyptian government, meanwhile, continues to tout its role as the host country of COP27 and has been working to bolster its international legitimacy through the summit.

For more on the human rights situation in Egypt and much more, we’re joined by Hossam Bahgat, executive director and founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights, one the country’s leading human rights groups. He has also worked as an investigative journalist for the independent media outlet Mada Masr. Over the years, Hossam Bahgat has been targeted by the government for his work. For the past seven years, he has been banned from traveling outside Egypt and had his personal assets frozen. In 2015, he was arrested and held for several days while under investigation by the military prosecutor, before he was released following international outcry.

Hossam Bahgat, it’s wonderful to have you back on Democracy Now! But today we are in your country. We are in Egypt, though Sharm el-Sheikh doesn’t exactly feel like the rest of Egypt. Is that right? Can you talk about the significance of this climate summit in this climate of fear for Egyptians outside this resort city?

HOSSAM BAHGAT: Now, of course, it doesn’t really represent the rest of the country in normal times, but especially during these two weeks there is a certain degree of freedom, at least inside the U.N. zone, the so-called Blue Zone, where Egyptians can for the first time in many years express their views, hold public debates, speak freely to the media, but also interact with civil society and climate justice activists from all over the world without fear of prompt, instant reprisal, but, of course, with the fear of reprisal after COP on everyone’s mind.

AMY GOODMAN: And how does it feel for you here in Sharm el-Sheikh? I mean, you are banned from leaving Egypt. This must be such an unusual experience to meet with people around the world.

HOSSAM BAHGAT: Definitely. I mean, it’s like really traveling to another country, except the world sort of came to Egypt for these two weeks, that it’s not just the kind of access that we have to official delegations, but the kind of connectedness and rebuilding of relationships and building of future partnerships around the issues of human rights and climate justice and environmental justice. But, most importantly, it is being able to breathe, really, because COP brought with it this level of oxygen that Egypt has been lacking for the past eight years.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s talk about what’s happened through this period. I mean, in Sharm el-Sheikh, you have the climate summit, but in Cairo, people are being picked off the streets. You have the story of the journalist who reported on Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s medical condition being arrested, among — well, we have reports of hundreds of people arrested, among the tens of thousands who are imprisoned right now.

HOSSAM BAHGAT: Yeah. I mean, this is just one glimpse, really, of what happens on a daily basis in Egypt. And it goes to show, in very clear terms, how what’s happening within the Blue Zone in Sharm el-Sheikh has not really stopped or changed the behavior of the Egyptian government in other cities, and especially in Cairo. There was a call for protests that came from opposition figures in the diaspora living in exile, marked at 11 — the 11th of November, to coincide —

AMY GOODMAN: Last Friday, 11/11.

HOSSAM BAHGAT: Correct. To before — I mean, to coincide with COP. And, of course, before, the government of Egypt reacted in the typical paranoid and excessive way. So, for many weeks, security was everywhere on the streets. We saw the return of random stops and arrests, the illegal searching of mobile phones, looking for not just any critical posts but really whether the person had even liked or shared a critical post or had any interest in politics at all. The tally kept by independent human rights organizations from October ’til mid-November, ’til yesterday, is over 600 people arrested. About 40 of them have not reappeared yet, so are still forcibly disappeared, and including around 24 women.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet you did not support a boycott of the summit. Why?

HOSSAM BAHGAT: When Egypt was first declared as the host of COP27 late last year, there were some calls, especially from outside of Egypt, for campaigning to relocate or reconsider that decision. We disagreed with these calls. And then there were calls on activists to boycott this summit, and again we disagreed and actually urged activists from around the world to use this opportunity to come to Egypt.

Egypt has not allowed international human rights organizations or independent social justice activists to come into the country since at least 2014. Organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch came to Egypt this week for the first time in nine years. So, it’s not just this lifeline of support that we needed, but also a global spotlight that was put on Egypt for a few weeks before and the two weeks of COP that we haven’t had in a number of years, because, as you know, Egypt is only in the news when there is a crisis.

And from the outside, Egypt appears to be a stable country in a very unstable region, and there’s a degree of normalization with the level of abuse in Egypt. A story that says that the Egyptian regime arrested dissidents is old news, unfortunately. It doesn’t capture the world’s attention anymore. And it became even more difficult after the war in Ukraine. The world had forgotten about Egypt. So, this is really an important opportunity for us to be back in the spotlight, to use this opportunity to highlight the magnitude of the human rights crisis in the country and mobilize solidarity around it.

AMY GOODMAN: And just to be clear, you talk about Human Rights Watch being allowed back into the country, yet you have all of these hundreds of websites that Egyptians are blocked from accessing. Can you explain that? For example, even like WhatsApp.

HOSSAM BAHGAT: Yeah. I mean, since around 2017, the government decided to really block any independent website that carried any critical views or information about Egypt. The problem is not just foreign websites like Human Rights Watch and Alhurra and Reporters Without Borders; the problem is that this blackout targeted 100% of independent Egyptian media outlets, so the number of news organizations that are Egyptian that are reporting news from Egypt that are available to the Egyptian people is now zero.

People have to, you know, download VPN in order to access these websites. So the government simply went around and blocked around 400 VPN websites so that Egyptian readers do not even have the app to download in order to access these news organizations. The number of blocked websites so far is over 600, and all of them are blocked illegally, so not according to Egypt’s abusive laws even or any legal regulation. It’s just security authorities that decide to pull the plug on any media organization or human rights organization that carries critical views.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, Hossam Bahgat, I introduced you as a leading human rights advocate, but you are perhaps the leading investigative journalist in Egypt. And I wanted the camera to go to the two shot right now and look across the room from us. We’re right outside the plenary. Right across from us, it says ”UMS,” and you’ve got the U.N. climate summit logo. And you’ve got men who have been sitting there all day. You did an investigation of how the Egyptian military, through a private equity group, bought up most of the media in Egypt. Can you explain what we’re looking at here?

HOSSAM BAHGAT: Yeah. I mean, UMS stands for United Media Services. This is a company that was established by Egypt’s General Intelligence Service for the sole purpose of purchasing all privately owned TV stations, newspapers and news websites.

Of course, anyone familiar with Egypt, even under the autocratic rule of Mubarak, remembers that despite the limits on freedom of expression and free media, Egypt had a vibrant media scene through privately owned, independent journalism, that really led Egypt to stand out, even within the Middle East, for its level of accountability journalism and independent reporting.

Shortly after President Sisi came to power, he started openly complaining about two things: about critical or opposition voices expressed in the media and also about the hours of political talk show every night that Egyptians turned to religiously every evening to follow the news and to learn about what’s happening in the country.

And so, the Intelligence Service simply went to one media outlet after the other and bought it over. And then, all of the media of the country is now under this UMS, United Media Services, or al-Mutahida. And that has really turned Egypt, within four years, into, you know, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Syria under Assad, where the headlines of every newspaper are the same. There is one news bulletin that is read out in every TV station, and there isn’t a single opposition newspaper or even column in Egypt now.

AMY GOODMAN: When you did the exposé on the military takeover of the media, what happened to you, when you did it for Mada Masr?

HOSSAM BAHGAT: I got in trouble before that one for other investigations that also looked into the military and security establishment’s takeover of the state, really, state capture by security agencies, if you want. And then, when I got into looking at this secret media acquisition, of course, our website was blocked, and then it was repeatedly blocked every time we relaunched it. And then, eventually, the government went public, and it’s actually now a well-known fact that United Media Services is owned by General Intelligence. They take pride even in that fact.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you get accreditation, Hossam, to this U.N. climate summit? There were others, even foreign human rights activists, that got even accreditation and were denied entry here. How did you get to come here?

HOSSAM BAHGAT: Believe me, it wasn’t easy. So, you know, all Egyptian organizations had to apply for a special permit to come for this COP only and to apply to the Egyptian COP presidency, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. So, we couldn’t apply directly to the U.N. for observer status. The Egyptian government kept that process secret — the very existence of that process was never announced — and then went around and handpicked, effectively preselected, the Egyptian organizations to invite. And then, all the names of human rights organizations that sought to receive this one-time accreditation were rejected. So, ultimately, the Egyptian government picked around 30-odd civil society organizations, and the number of human rights groups on that list was zero.

So, what we had to do is, of course, go around to partners in international organizations that have observer status from the U.N., and ask them to include us in their delegation. So, I am not here representing an Egyptian human rights organization, my organization. I got here with a badge from a German climate group called German Zero, and I thank them very much. But without them, really, I would not have been here. And the same is true for any Egyptian human rights defender who is on the ground in Sharm el-Sheikh this week.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Hossam Bahgat, there is someone who is not here on the ground, though, as a number of people said, should be the main person addressing world leaders, and that is Alaa Abd El-Fattah. And he is a leading political activist back to the Tahrir, to the Arab Spring. He’s been in prison for most of the last 10 years. Now, one world leader after another has come here. The German chancellor has called on Sisi, the president of Egypt, to free him. Macron, the president of France, did it through AFP, Agence France-Presse. What about President Biden? He was here on 11/11. He was here on Friday for a couple of hours with a large delegation, with Nancy Pelosi and others, the House speaker. Can you talk about what the U.S. is demanding in terms of Alaa, who has just finished a seven-month hunger fast, and what that meeting between Sisi and Biden was, what we understand? Did Biden make any demands, call for his release, his freedom? He is a British Egyptian human rights leader.

HOSSAM BAHGAT: To our knowledge, there isn’t really a single head of state or government that came to COP and had a bilateral meeting with President Sisi that didn’t raise the case of political prisoners in general, and Alaa Abd El-Fattah in particular, because, of course, Alaa’s case became much more critical just before COP, because a week before, he went on a full hunger strike, after, as you say, seven months of a partial hunger strike, and then, on the very —

AMY GOODMAN: Including drinking no water for six days.

HOSSAM BAHGAT: On the very first day of the summit, he stopped drinking water. And so, that, of course, became the most urgent, most critical case. And our understanding is that President Biden, as well as several members, senior members, of his delegation, raised the case of Alaa with their counterparts.

Unfortunately, the Egyptian government has not only resisted all these calls for Alaa to be released or deported to the U.K., but also have kept him with absolutely no contact with the outside world for the last two weeks, until we got the very first note from him yesterday, with proof of life, saying that he started drinking water. And then, today, we got the letter that you read out, that says he has ended his strike. So, of course, we’re very relieved about that. But, as you say, Alaa is only one of many thousands of other political prisoners that are in jail in open-ended pretrial detention or have been convicted, simply for having expressed dissenting views or exercised peaceful activism.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you know what’s going to happen? His family, his sister and mother, are expected to visit — I don’t know if it’s one or two who can go into the prison — for the first time in quite a while, on Thursday. His birthday is Friday. He’s asked for a birthday cake, may have news for them. But, in fact, last week, the lawyer was told he could go visit him. He was denied. He went back, he went back. He was denied. And what role do international leaders play when it comes to this? I mean, the U.S. gives billions of dollars of military aid to Egypt, so whatever President Biden said behind closed doors makes an enormous difference. The U.S. has enormous power, as do other Western countries.

HOSSAM BAHGAT: Absolutely. And, you know, we’re all anxiously waiting for Thursday, because this will be the first time that Alaa will have been seen since October 31st, the last visit. As you said, his lawyer three times received official permit to visit him, and three times was turned away. It is our speculation that perhaps prison authorities and security agencies did not want Alaa to be seen in a very weak state after all these weeks and months of strike, especially because they have been repeatedly lying on the record, saying that Alaa was not striking at all. So, I think they were buying time maybe, until Alaa maybe regains some health and strength, before they allow him to be seen by anyone.

Of course, the United States is an influential country in the world, and especially so when it comes to Egypt, given not just the military support but, you know, a strategic and long relationship. And the Egyptian regime in the past two years has actually shown some sensitivity to outside criticism and an effort to improve its image, perhaps in the lead-up to the COP. And, you know, they have taken some positive signals to the outside world in terms of releasing some political prisoners or the recent call for a national dialogue with the opposition. That goes to show, really, that the sustained engagement with the Egyptian government, in public and private, about its catastrophic human rights record can actually lead to some change.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the American-style — I think that’s how the Egyptian government refers to it — prisons that Sisi has built? In fact, he referred to what you’re just saying in his meeting with Biden when the press gaggle came out. He was the first to raise human rights, as if to preempt something that Biden could say. But what these prisons are, like where Alaa is held?

HOSSAM BAHGAT: What the president called American-style prisons, I mean, I think when the president said it, he thought it was a good thing. And in his mind, he was perhaps referring to the size of the prison complex and the fact that it was maybe better maintained compared to Egypt’s very old and crowded prisons.

But as the case of Alaa and countless others came to show us, these two shiny prisons continue to act with the same utter disregard for the rule of law, openly violating Egypt’s own prison regulations, refusing to implement permits, visiting permits, issued by the country’s top public prosecutor, and denying Alaa the most basic rights.

Alaa, in his letter today, is celebrating, announcing to his family that they allowed an MP3 player in. This is the first time in three years that Alaa will be allowed to listen to music. And that’s unlike every other prisoner in that prison. You know, for three years, Alaa was campaigning for the prison authorities to pick any book of their choosing from the prison library to allow him to read. For three years, he was not allowed to read a book, to listen to music, to have a radio, to get out of his cell. And that just goes to show you how vindictive this state is and how adamant they were at breaking him. But he stood, and stood strong, and actually, you know, managed to stay not just alive but incredibly lucid and in very high spirits.

AMY GOODMAN: Compare Egypt today with Egypt that he and so many others protested 10 years ago, the Arab Spring, what happened in Tahrir, what that meant, not only for Egypt but for the world. What happened in this 10 years? What has Sisi brought this country to?

HOSSAM BAHGAT: I mean, back then — and, of course, you covered it extensively — under Mubarak, we worked and organized, because, of course, it was a country with a very troubling human rights record. There were ongoing violations, some of them systemic, with impunity and, you know, a complete failure of accountability. But it was, you know, an authoritarian country, and we were fighting for democracy.

What we have right now is a full-scale human rights crisis, that made Egypt, really, as I said, you know, in the same state as Belarus and Uzbekistan and other countries, where it’s not just that human rights violations are rampant, but that we have a regime that became one of the worst abusers of human rights in the whole world. And that’s not an emotional statement. If you look up any independent ranking of countries around the world on any measure of human rights, you will find Egypt among the worst three or five violators. Look at the number of journalists imprisoned, we’re number three in the world, after Turkey and China. Last year, we were number one in the world in terms of the number of death sentences, number three in terms of the number of actually carried-out executions, the sheer population of political prisoners, the number of blocked websites, the number of — you know, the almost nonexisting media sphere and the full criminalization of human rights work, where every human rights defender is facing criminal charges, asset freezes, travel bans — not just myself — and where engaging in any act of peaceful opposition has become grounds for imprisonment with no future of release.

AMY GOODMAN: So, my last question is: What makes you so brave, and what gives you hope? I mean, the U.N. climate summit ends this week. That is a level of protection that you and other people in civil society will not have. The level to which you are speaking out right now — you can’t leave Egypt — what could happen to you now?

HOSSAM BAHGAT: And we knew that we were — that we had to take a risk, of course, and we always knew that it was only a two-week conference, so, ultimately, it will be over, and we will all be back in Cairo. But it was really a choice between, you know, not doing anything and wasting this huge opportunity of having a U.N. summit on Egyptian soil, or taking that risk and facing possible consequences afterwards.

Initially, we decided to take that risk, that it was worth it. And then, with Alaa’s hunger strike, of course, you know, we lost any hesitation or fear, and we decided that we did not just have an opportunity, but an obligation to use this opportunity to tell our story. We hope that the world is not going to forget about Egypt once the COP is over, and so this stoplight goes elsewhere. But even if that happens, it will have been well worth it.

AMY GOODMAN: Hossam Bahgat, all the best to you, founder and executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, EIPR, based in Cairo. He’s also worked as an investigative journalist for the independent media outlet Mada Masr. For the past seven years, he’s been banned from traveling outside Egypt and had his personal assets frozen. Thanks so much.
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Re: COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:11 am

Vanessa Nakate Condemns Fossil Fuel Lobbying at U.N. Climate Talks as Global Warming Devastates Africa
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 15, 2022 ... oss_damage

At the U.N. climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, we speak with prominent Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate about the impact of the climate crisis on the continent of Africa. Earlier today she spoke at a COP27 event and blasted world leaders for not doing more. She describes the need for wealthy nations gathered at the U.N. climate conference, particularly the U.S., to finance loss and damage for poorer nations in the Global South. “For the current and historic emitters, they need to take responsibility for the climate crisis, and they need to pay for this crisis,” says Nakate.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we broadcast live from the U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

We look now at how the crisis is impacting Africa. We’re joined by one of the continent’s, one of the world’s most prominent climate activists, Vanessa Nakate from Kampala, Uganda. She’s the author of A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis.

Earlier today, at an event here at the U.N. climate talks, Vanessa Nakate condemned world leaders for investing in new fossil fuel projects. She also warned the summit is being turned into a, quote, “sales and marketing conference for more pollution and more destruction and more devastation.” Vanessa Nakate joins us now.

Welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s an honor to have you with us, Vanessa.

VANESSA NAKATE: Thank you so much.

AMY GOODMAN: Why don’t you continue on that theme? Now, you were at a side conference. Have you ever addressed the plenary?

VANESSA NAKATE: No, I haven’t.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you want to?

VANESSA NAKATE: I would love to.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what would you tell world leaders.

VANESSA NAKATE: Well, I would tell world leaders that we really need to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius alive. At just 1.2 degrees Celsius, so many communities are suffering some of the worst impacts of the climate crisis. I recently made a visit to Turkana, a region in the Horn of Africa, and we are seeing the worst drought in the Horn of Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: This is in Kenya?

VANESSA NAKATE: Yes, in Kenya. And so many children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. So it’s really important that our leaders keep 1.5 degrees Celsius alive.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what you mean by this has become a kind of marketing extravaganza.

VANESSA NAKATE: Well, apparently, we have more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists at this COP, and yet so many communities and activists from the frontlines of the climate crisis weren’t able to make it here. There is a quote that I read recently that said, “If you’re going to discuss about malaria, do not invite the mosquitoes.” So, for me, it’s a worry that we have over 600 fossil fuel lobbyists in this place. It’s a worry for our future. It’s a worry for our planet. It’s a worry for the people.

AMY GOODMAN: This has been described as Africa’s COP, here in northern Africa. Do you see this as Africa’s COP?

VANESSA NAKATE: Well, many people, of course, are calling it an African COP. And it can only live up to that name if the climate crisis is addressed and if what is needed, what the communities from the African continent are demanding for are fulfilled. And one of those things is the Loss and Damage Finance Facility. The climate crisis is pushing so many communities beyond adaptation. You cannot adapt to starvation. You can’t adapt to extinction. And that is what is happening right now. Loss and damage is affecting so many communities. So, for me, what will make it an African COP is ensuring that there is an establishment of a Loss and Damage Finance Facility, and also supporting a just transition to renewable energy while addressing the energy poverty on the African continent.

AMY GOODMAN: We were talking to Nnimmo Bassey, your colleague in Nigeria, who has probably gone to more COPs than you’ve lived years. But he talked about this being the lost and damaged COP. When you say “loss and damage,” it just rolls off your tongue. You have been at several of these COPs. But the rest of the world, that’s U.N. lingo. Explain exactly what you mean, the gritty facts on the ground, what loss and damage means, and who needs to pay for reparations.

VANESSA NAKATE: Well, loss and damage looks like what I’ve just explained, you know, what I saw in Turkana — children, women and people suffering, having no access to water, having no access to food, and doctors referring to, you know, the cases of so many children in hospitals as “wasted” cases because of the severe acute malnutrition. Loss and damage is what we see happening in Pakistan, the flooding that left over 1,500 people dead and over 33 million people displaced. It is what is happening in Nigeria as a result of the floods. It is what has happened on the African continent, you know, with the cyclones. So, it’s really understanding the impacts of the climate crisis that arew pushing communities beyond adaptation.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about EACOP? You’re from Uganda. You’ve spoken out against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, EACOP, which will run through Uganda and Tanzania. What are your concerns?

VANESSA NAKATE: Well, my concerns are that, you know, fossil fuel companies, like Total, are promising —

AMY GOODMAN: Total is the French oil company.

VANESSA NAKATE: Yes. They are promising, you know, the people in my country, and all other investments in Africa, that they’re bringing economic progress. But we’ve seen decades of fossil fuel investments on the African continent. They haven’t brought economic progress. So my worry is that, you know, the environment and biodiversity is going to be destroyed. We are going to find ourselves in an accelerated climate crisis, and profits are going to end up in pockets of already rich people. The energy is going to be loaded onto ships, you know, and taken to Europe, and the people in Africa will still not have access to the electricity that has been promised. If the fossil fuel industry really meant that they were bringing energy on the African continent, then we wouldn’t have over 600 million people on the African continent still struggling to find access to electricity.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you’re talking about the massive problems that Africa and other parts of the world face. But you’re also engaged in solutions at the local level. Talk about what you’re doing in Uganda?

VANESSA NAKATE: So, in Uganda, I work with the Rise Up Movement. And what we do, we — one of the things that we do is to carry out climate education in schools and also reach out to communities to tell them about what is happening and about their role in addressing the climate crisis. But I also run a project which involves the installation of solar panels and eco-friendly cook stoves in schools in Uganda. And so far we’ve done installations in 31 schools. I started this project to help drive a transition to renewable energy in the schools in Uganda and also to carry out climate education in schools and ensure that schools have alternatives, you know, to cleaner cooking stoves and also alternatives to the energy that they can use.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait a second. Today is November 15?


AMY GOODMAN: Is it true that it’s your birthday?


AMY GOODMAN: That it is your B-Earth day. Do you spell it B-E-A-R-T-H-D-A-Y? And you’re 26 years old?


AMY GOODMAN: What would you consider the greatest birthday present coming out of this COP?

VANESSA NAKATE: Well, I mean —

AMY GOODMAN: Happy birthday!

VANESSA NAKATE: Thank you so much. Well, I mean, it would be having people and justice at the center of the negotiations. And that will look like a Loss and Damage Finance Facility. That will look like a just transition to renewable energy. You know, that will look like no new fossil fuel investments, and that is coal, oil and gas.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, by my calculations, let’s see, you’re 26 years old.


AMY GOODMAN: And this is COP27. That means 27 years of the Conference of Parties, of the U.N. climate summit. The COP has been meeting all of your life.

VANESSA NAKATE: Exactly. And it’s worrying that we’ve had 27 COPs now, and global temperatures continue to rise, and the climate crisis continues to accelerate, and communities continue to suffer, and our leaders continue not to do anything about it.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s talk about the leaders of the countries that have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases. You have the United States, historically the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world and, per capita, one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters today; China, the largest current greenhouse gas emitter. Xi and Biden met on Monday. What do they need to do? When people say, “Why, if we’re dealing with all these problems in the United States, should we be giving money to other countries?” talk about why, and how that money should be targeted.

VANESSA NAKATE: Well, I think that it’s a moral responsibility for historic emitters and also current emitters to address the climate crisis. I was able to, you know, listen to President Biden speak, and I think that we desperately needed greater leadership from President Biden and the United States. I think that the United States has a huge responsibility to not only address the climate crisis, to not only address loss and damage, but to put money to support communities that are suffering right now.

And when we talk about this money, we need this money to be able to go to communities that need it, and for this money to go in the form of small accessible grants, not loans to add an already existing debt. So, for me, for the current and historic emitters, they need to take responsibility for the climate crisis, and they need to pay for this crisis.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, this is an unusual COP because of the emphasis on human rights. I mean, you have Alaa Abd El-Fattah in prison among tens of thousands of Egyptians. This is taking place in Egypt, this U.N. climate summit. And you have climate justice advocates from around the world. You all joined together on Saturday, saying that you can’t separate these two issues. Talk about how that is integral for you, as well.

VANESSA NAKATE: Well, I mean, our fight for climate justice is a fight for human rights. We’ve seen how the climate crisis is violating the rights of so many people across the world. And to go back to the story of Turkana, what I saw there was children struggling to find water, struggling to find food. And some of the communities that I visited, you know, beyond Uganda, that are suffering because of air pollution, these are people struggling to find access or to even breathe clean air. So, a fight for climate justice is indeed a fight for human rights. And we cannot have climate justice without ensuring that the rights of the people are protected.

AMY GOODMAN: Final words to this global audience that is listening to everything you say?

VANESSA NAKATE: Well, I mean, well, it’s very hard to find words to say when you know what is happening, especially in the negotiations and what is happening at the COP. But what I hope is that our leaders can inspire us with action. I hope that our leaders can inspire us with true climate leadership.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Vanessa Nakate, I think you’ve shown what leadership looks like.


AMY GOODMAN: We thank you very much for being with us. And again, happy, happy birthday!


AMY GOODMAN: Vanessa Nakate, climate justice activist, speaking to us. She usually is in Uganda. She’s the author of her memoir, A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis.
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Re: COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:13 am

Who Should Pay for Climate Crisis? Global South Demands “Loss and Damage” from Wealthy Nations
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 16, 2022 ... transcript

We are broadcasting from COP27, the U.N. climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where poorer countries in the Global South that are weathering the worst effects of the climate crisis are calling for wealthy nations to pay reparations in the form of climate financing. “We need a global plan to phase out fossil fuels in a just and equitable manner,” says Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy with Climate Action Network and global engagement director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. He adds that the United States is the main impediment to “loss and damage” climate financing. “Money is available, but [the] U.S. has always blocked money going to poor people who are suffering from climate impacts,” he says.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

A major split remains between wealthy nations and the Global South on what financial responsibility larger polluters should take for causing the climate crisis. A group of more than 130 developing nations and China have proposed establishing a loss and damage fund to provide money to countries impacted by the climate crisis, but the United States has said it would not support a, quote, “legal structure that is tied to compensation or liability.”

To talk more about this, we’re joined by Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy with Climate Action Network and with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a global initiative to phase out fossil fuels and support a just transition. We’re going to talk to him in a moment, but first I had a chance to walk through part of the U.N. climate summit with Harjeet earlier today to get his observations on what’s happening.

AMY GOODMAN: Harjeet, if you can take us into the pavilion, where it used to be so many climate justice groups had set up booths? So, you see this as an expo for the very fossil fuel philosophy and companies that climate justice groups are taking on.

HARJEET SINGH: Absolutely. So, you know, we have been coming to this space to fight for climate justice. It’s such an important conference. It’s not a travel junket for us. It’s a space where we — where we demand that we need to be reducing our consumption. We need to make sure that private companies do their part. But what we find, that it has been turned into an expo, and there are more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists who are selling their products, which is fossil fuel, which is going to exacerbate the problem. So, they have turned these conferences into a place where the problem is going to get more worse because of the increasing fossil fuel investments.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network, or CAN. He joins us now live on our set inside COP27.

Harjeet, welcome back to Democracy Now! We’re right outside the plenary. Before we talk more about that corporate capture that many are concerned about at the climate summit, give us the latest on these negotiations that are taking place. It is Wednesday. The talks supposedly end Friday; they often go an extra day. What’s happening here?

HARJEET SINGH: Thank you so much, Amy, for having me on. It’s a pleasure to join you here.

At this moment, there is a logjam on the issue of loss and damage finance, something that developing countries have been demanding, because impacts are everywhere, and it’s poor and vulnerable people around the world who are seeing their homes getting washed away, and their crops are getting destroyed, but they are not getting any support from the U.N. climate system.

And there is no mention of fossil fuels in the draft cover text which is going to come out of this COP, which is deeply worrying, because after 30 years of fighting, we got fossil fuels mentioned for the first time in Glasgow at COP26, and now there’s a fight to have them back again. And, in fact, many developing countries and some developed countries are also demanding mention of all fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — because we can’t just mention coal, which was the case in COP26 Glasgow, and we have to talk about phasing out, in a manner that is just and fair, and finance needs to be provided. But things are stuck, and we have seen climate finance issue not making progress at all.

AMY GOODMAN: I think many people around the world listening to you right now would be very shocked that in the draft of the final statement of the U.N. climate summit there is no mention of fossil fuels?

HARJEET SINGH: Absolutely. So, when I talk about 600 lobbyists moving around and the interest of fossil fuel industry and governments are causing, for them, that’s the result. So, imagine the global energy continues to depend on fossil fuels to the tune of 80%. No, that’s not by accident, because we did not do enough to move away from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy, because Paris Agreement did not even mention coal, oil and gas.

And that’s exactly the reason we are demanding a global framework to fix that big hole in climate policy. And that’s why the demand for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, because you can’t just talk about fossil fuels on the corridors. If you keep that issue on the sidelines, it’s going to fall off the table.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to talk with you about the fossil fuel treaty. But I want to first turn to the U.S. presidential climate envoy, John Kerry. In September, he spoke at a New York Times event, where he was questioned by a member of the audience who happened to be Farhana Yamin, a leading environmental lawyer who helped negotiate the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.

FARHANA YAMIN: What will you be doing to step up and actually put money into loss of damage? And what will you be doing to stop the inaction on procedural and legal and institutional wrangling, which the U.S. is at the heart of, I have to say? You can remove all of that and establish the facility on loss and damage at COP27, which is the will of the vast majority of developing countries. And all I can say is, you’re bringing a lot to the table, and we really applaud that, but the most important thing that the U.S. can bring right now is honesty to COP27.

JOHN KERRY: Well, in all honesty, the most important thing that we can do is stop, mitigate enough that we prevent loss and damage. And the next most important thing we can do is help people adapt to the damage that’s already there. And we have a limited — we’re not — you tell me the government in the world that has trillions of dollars, because that’s what it costs. So, we’re now trying to mobilize the trillions of dollars. And I’m not going take a feeling guilty.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s the U.S. climate envoy, John Kerry, being questioned by [Farhana] Yamin. Your response, Harjeet, to what he was saying then? Because actually his position has changed.

HARJEET SINGH: Absolutely, because the kind of pressure we have been mounting on the U.S., being the biggest historical emitter and also the biggest blocker on the issue of loss and damage finance. And the reason we are facing loss and damage right now is because of the inaction of the last 30 years, led by the United States. And U.S. has blocked every discussion on loss and damage finance, which means helping people recover from climate impacts.

And when Secretary Kerry says that, you know, we cannot achieve it in six weeks, and we don’t have trillions, but we do see trillions going to military. We do see trillions going to bail out banks. And we also see trillions being made available to fight the COVID crisis or even now for the Russian war in Ukraine. So money is available, but U.S. has always blocked money going to poor people who are suffering from climate impacts.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain why. Explain the difference between loss and damage and John Kerry’s concern that that would lead to liability and compensation.

HARJEET SINGH: Absolutely. So, for U.S., it’s an issue of compensation and liability. And at a principal level, it is. But we come to this U.N. space to have a more cooperative mechanism and have a principle of solidarity in this space. But the U.S. has always acted in bad faith. We got a mechanism in 2013 called Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, which does mention loss and damage finance, but they did not allow that discussion to move forward.

They fear that any progress on loss and damage means more litigation cases. I would argue that if you don’t operate in the coop as a — operate as — you know, cooperate more in the space, you will see more litigation cases going up. It’s like a seesaw. So, if you provide support through this system, litigation cases are going to go down. In any case, they have multiplied, because we have not seen sufficient action from the U.S. and the developed countries.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you’ve made the argument that, actually, if the U.S. got involved with loss and damage, they would be less liable. Talk about the lawsuits that are being brought around the world, sometimes one farmer against a whole corporation.

HARJEET SINGH: There are hundreds of lawsuits we are seeing. You know, we have seen how Shell company was taken to court in the Netherlands. We have seen even the German government was taken to court by young activists. We are seeing a German company being sued by a Peruvian farmer. These cases are multiplying all over the world, because nothing has progressed in the climate space that is responding to the scale of the crisis. So we need U.S. to be on the table, respond to the proposal that developing countries have put forward, so that we can actually have a more cooperative mechanism to help people who are facing climate emergency.

AMY GOODMAN: You represent the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Tuvalu has become the first country to use the U.N. climate summit to demand an international treaty like this, which would gradually eliminate the use of coal, oil and gas. Explain what this is all about and how countries are responding, from the Global South and the biggest polluters, like the United States and China.

HARJEET SINGH: So, the biggest challenge is that we have not mentioned fossil fuels in the Paris Agreement, no reference to coal, oil and gas, the major cause of the climate crisis that we are facing right now. It’s because of the influence of the industry. And there’s also a reality that many developing countries are dependent on fossil fuels for their revenues. There are millions of workers involved. So we need a global plan to phase out fossil fuels in a just and equitable manner.

And this system here is not talking about fossil fuels the way it should be. So we need a global framework in the form of a treaty that complements the Paris Agreement and helps people and economies move away from fossil fuels, which are causing multiple crises, climate crisis, health crisis and even the global energy crisis — which is not an energy crisis, it’s a fossil fuel crisis.

AMY GOODMAN: So, earlier today, Harjeet, you took me on a tour of the pavilions. Now, these are places where often you have climate justice groups using stalls as spaces to have conversations about how we move forward with sustainability. You have Greta Thunberg deciding that she was not going to come to this climate summit because of greenwashing. Explain what this pavilion or pavilions all over have become.

HARJEET SINGH: It’s really painful to see this climate conference turning into an expo. That’s not the purpose of this conference. We come here to fight for climate justice. You know, there are thousands of activists who somehow raise resources to influence negotiations, to hold polluters to account. And you see polluters setting up their shops to sell more fossil fuel products. You see NGOs are being squeezed into small tiny boxes where they can talk about the amazing work that they are doing on ground. And you see massive — these pavilions from governments and private companies, who can afford to pay.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re talking about, for example, the large pavilion of OPEC.

HARJEET SINGH: Exactly. So, civil society does not have those kind of resources to represent their work and to make their demands heard. And this is where the U.N. secretary-general must step in and decide how this place is going to be run. Is it going to become an expo? And the next COP is going to happen in Dubai, which is an expo city.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you have Sharm el-Sheikh, as well. And because of the thousands of lobbyists, the corporate representatives, the governments, from the UAE to the United States to Saudi Arabia, I mean, the prices for climate activists even to be here — I mean, do you think these COPs have become obsolete or destructive, or do you think there’s still a value in people gathering from around the world, no matter how much the fuel costs are to get here?

HARJEET SINGH: This U.N. space is the only space where we see all countries are theoretically equal. Tuvalu is as powerful as the U.S. Malawi is as powerful as the European Union. We cannot depend on G7s and G20s, which are a club of big economies. This is the place where we fight for global justice. But this place is being turned into a commercial space and not a space where civil society organizations and developing countries can equally demand human rights and justice. And we need to reboot the system to make sure that the U.N. is made fit for purpose to respond to multiple challenges that we are facing right now. Climate crisis is one of the biggest crises that we are facing at this moment.

AMY GOODMAN: Before, when I said Tuvalu is the only country, at least it’s Tuvalu and, becoming the second nation, Vanuatu, calling for this Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Talk about what’s happening to these island nations. I mean, you have the latest news out of Tuvalu that they are making a digital kind of rendition of their islands, a digital version of itself, replicating islands and landmarks, preserving its history and culture, as rising sea levels threaten to submerge the entire Pacific nation.

HARJEET SINGH: They knew it. Pacific nations raised this concern 30 years ago, that we need a global response to the crisis that we are going to face in future, particularly sea level rise. But nobody listened to them. And when we talk about the issue of loss and damage, it is exactly that. It’s about helping them deal with those climate impacts. When they call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, it’s because of the desperation and the inaction that they have seen in the last 30 years. They are doing anything and everything possible to demand justice and climate action, and they are not getting adequate support.

AMY GOODMAN: Harjeet Singh, I want to thank you for being with us, head of the global political strategy with Climate Action Network and with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a global initiative to phase out fossil fuels and support a just transition. Usually he’s in New Delhi, India, but today in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where the U.N. climate summit is taking place.
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Re: COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:15 am

“Climate Collateral”: How Military Spending Fuels Environmental Damage
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 16, 2022 ... nsnational

As the U.N. climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, is underway, we look at how military spending accelerates the climate crisis. Wealthy nations’ investments in armed forces not only exacerbates pollution but also often surpasses their climate financing by as much as 30 times, according to a new report by the Transnational Institute. It shows the money is available, “but it’s been dedicated to military spending,” says co-author Nick Buxton. Governments that import arms, like Egypt, are motivated by the desire for legitimacy and the “power to crack down on the civil society,” adds Muhammad al-Kashef, human rights lawyer and migration activist.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. We’re broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

We turn now to look at the link between military spending and the climate crisis. A new report by the Transnational Institute examines how military spending and arms sales not only increase greenhouse gas emissions, but also divert financial resources and attention away from tackling the climate emergency.

In a moment, we’ll be joined by two co-authors of the report, but first this is a short video produced by the Transnational Institute.

MUHAMMAD AL-KASHEF: My name is Muhammad. I’m a human rights lawyer, researcher and migration activist. I have been born and raised in Egypt, until I left the country in 2017 because of the risks and the threats that I faced personally because of my activism and work. When I left Egypt and became an exile, I felt like a tree that you took out of the soil.

Egypt is in the international spotlight today for hosting the world’s most important climate talks. But the fact that its host is the military dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, it says a lot about the world’s most powerful nations’ real priorities. Sisi’s regime survives thanks to a huge flow of oil, arms and EU money.

The richest and most polluting countries today spend 30 times as much on military as they do on climate finance for the world’s most climate-affected people. Rather than providing aid, these same rich countries are interested in providing weapons and arms to countries like Egypt. And every dollar of military spending is also worsening the climate crisis.

A militarized nation like Egypt and an accelerated arms race globally is the opposite of climate justice. We cannot allow my experience and the experience of many other Egyptians to become the model for how we respond to an escalating climate crisis. Climate justice requires democracy, human rights, dignity and demilitarization. It requires a world that puts people before profits and peace before war.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s a video produced by the Transnational Institute, which has just published the new report, “Climate Collateral: How military spending accelerates climate breakdown.”

We are joined now by two guests. Nick Buxton is a researcher at the Transnational Institute, joining us from Wales, and Muhammad al-Kashef is an attorney and migration activist living in Germany.

Nick, let’s begin with you. Why don’t you lay out the findings of your report, that looks into military spending, arms and weapons sales from the world’s richest nations, and the deep impacts that it has on countries’ capacity to address the climate catastrophe that the world is facing right now?

NICK BUXTON: Yes. Thanks, Amy. Thanks for the invitation to be on your show.

This report, as you know, is coming on the back of big discussions at this COP, which we just heard about in this earlier section, about the need that the poorest countries, who are most impacted by climate change, are saying that we need finance to both adapt to climate change and to deal with the loss and damage. And we hear John Kerry — you were just quoting the earlier clip — saying, “Name me a nation that has trillions of dollars to deal with this,” except — basically saying washing his hands of the situation and refusing to accept some responsibility.

And yet, what this report shows is that there is trillions of dollars. The richest countries, which are called Annex II countries under the U.N. climate talks, have dedicated $9.45 trillion to military spending in the last eight years, between 2013 and 2021. And that is 30 times more than they have dedicated to climate finance. And they’re still not delivering on their promises to deliver the $100 billion a year that was promised way back in 2009 now. So, what we’re seeing, firstly, in this report is that there is resources, but it’s been dedicated to military spending.

The second main finding is that, of this military spending, it is very much tied to a very high-emitting situation, that we’re creating greenhouse gases with every dollar we spend on the military. And that’s because the military depends, with its jets, its tanks, its ships, on high levels of use of fossil fuels. So, for example, the F-35 jet, which is the main fighter jet that the U.S. is now deploying, uses 5,600 gallons of liters an hour in its deployment. And these weapons, which are bought, then are usually in operation for 30 years, so it’s locking in that carbon for a long time to come. So, we’re creating a situation where actually the military is contributing deeply to the crisis.

And then the third main finding of the report was looking at what the richest countries, the Annex II countries, are doing in terms of arms sales. We actually found out — found that the richest countries are supplying arms to all 40 of the most climate-vulnerable countries. So, what we’re seeing is we’re not providing the finance that we need for the poorest countries, but we are providing arms. In a situation of climate instability and in terms of a real poverty and people really facing on the frontlines of climate change, we’re actually adding fuel to the fire by providing the arms that could lead to conflict. And this, as the video shared, is the complete opposite of climate justice.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the armed forces and fuel consumption, Nick?

NICK BUXTON: Yeah. There’s a report just came out actually just a couple of days ago, which has been estimating how much the military contribute towards emissions. And it calculates that the world’s military contribute 5.5% of the total emissions of greenhouse gas emissions. If it was considered a country, it would actually come fourth, so it’s just after Russia in terms of how much emissions that they produce. So, it’s a very substantial contribution to the problem. The Pentagon in the U.S. is the single largest institutional emitter of carbon emissions. And the 5.5%, for example, is double what is produced by civil aviation.

And what is really shocking is that within the U.N. system, it is not properly counted. So it’s one of the few bodies and organs that doesn’t have to report all its emissions to the UNFCCC and the IPCC. And that was because the U.S., under the Bill Clinton administration, actually carved out an exemption for the Pentagon. So, at the moment, that exemption — in 2015, it was watered down so now they can report it, but it’s not — it’s still voluntary, and we still have a very incomplete picture of actually how many emissions are produced.

So, this is one of the key demands that is being raised at the COP, is that we’re doing some estimates that it’s a really significant player, but it’s absolutely crucial that it becomes mandatory for the military to provide it and to show all their emissions, not just of the emissions of their equipment, but also the supply chains of the arms sales and so on, because we do know that these systems are very highly tentative users of fossil fuels, and they’re also very much embedded in a system that has been protecting the fossil fuel economy globally for a long time.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Muhammad al-Kashef into this conversation. Muhammad, Egypt is the third-largest importer of weapons in the world, one of dozens of countries that has received more and more military aid, arms and weapons from the United States, from the European Union, as well as from other rich nations. How has this contributed not only to the worsening pollution and the impacts of the climate crisis in the country and the world, but also to serious human rights violations committed in Egypt by the Egyptian military?


Actually, Egypt has spent nearly $50 billion on purchasing weapons since 2014, just soon after the military returned to the power in 2013. And since 2017, it has been one of the top five arms-importing countries. In the last three years, it’s ranked as the third highest, third. And actually, in two major deals, Egypt paid around 5.2 billion euros in 2015 and 4.2 billion euros in 2021.

As we all see, and it’s not hidden, the economical situation that Egypt is facing and the suffering that Egyptian people see and struggle with since 2016, but also, when we talk about the human rights situation and we’re talking about the situation inside the country itself, this country kind of shaped and controlled by every level by the military, which not only the every level of state bureaucracy, but also controls large sector of the economy and the open spaces.

And I’m sure now, like, COP27 just shedding the light on Egypt, and luckily there is a civic space that the human rights defenders, the people still living in Egypt, can speak loudly and transfer their voices to the outer world. Unfortunately, these arms deals and all this money involved give the Egypt and the Egyptian state kind of legitimacy and international support that give them the power to crack down on the civil society to keep over 60,000 — referring to Amnesty report in 2016, more than 60,000 political prisoners in detention. We see actually just one figure, Alaa Abd El-Fattah, just one figure, just one political prisoner, who got support and who is just lucky to have some people talking for him. And we see how the Egyptian state actually respond to such demands.

So, that’s what we are seeing, actually. The world and the European member states, the U.S.A. and even the Russia, all of them just closing their eyes of the violations that happen inside Egypt, because of all these deals, because of the interest.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Kashef, if you could — if you could talk more about where we are right now, where we are — you’re in Germany, we are in Sharm el-Sheikh, in Egypt — and about what this place sort of represents? For many, they don’t even have a sense that they’re in Egypt. It is such a different place, so isolated.

MUHAMMAD AL-KASHEF: Actually, Egypt is not isolated. Egypt is in the middle of everything, like in the middle of East. It’s —

AMY GOODMAN: I meant Sharm el-Sheikh.

MUHAMMAD AL-KASHEF: Yeah, Sharm el-Sheikh actually is a really nice touristic resort. This does not reflect the real situation in Egypt, in Delta, in Cairo and Alexandria and North Coast. Sharm el-Sheikh is just a part of heaven, if we want to discuss that. And actually, it’s crazy, because there is no transparency, no democratical accountable or process holding the Egyptian state the responsibility for what happened. To invite all these people to Sharm el-Sheikh and let them enjoy their time in such a resort, I would say this is just not just a greenwashing, but also this is a big lie.

AMY GOODMAN: You also are a major advocate for refugees. Can you talk about climate refugees? The same rich nations that are creating conditions that cause people to flee, investing then billions of dollars in militaries and borders, and preventing them from coming to the fossil fuel-emitting nations.

MUHAMMAD AL-KASHEF: Yeah, sure. Actually, when we see that, it’s a kind of a closed circuit, and we are going in dilemma. Biggest states are expending more money and expending too much billion dollars and euros in the arms, and then we see the military [inaudible] and how it affect on the climate, and find like displaced people and refugees are leaving their home and their countries to find a better place to live, to find someplace still livable, in a sense. And then, instead, actually, of spending money and spending resources to correct the situation and to face the crisis, no, the states are spending more and more money in militarization — in the militarization, in militarizing the border, in the border security.

And that’s actually really sad, because we see that the crisis is kind of affecting us all. And we need really to find a solution, to find a better solution. What we see in Africa now, it’s also going to Mediterranean, because in the Mediterranean, big sector of fishermen, big sector of communities are losing their source of finalizing and affording living. And what we are witnessing actually in Pakistan and the floods in Pakistan and what’s happening, this is all actually kind of impact of our wrong policies.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us. We’re certainly going to link your report. Muhammad al-Kashef is an attorney and migration activist, speaking to us from Germany. Nick Buxton, researcher at the Transnational Institute — they are co-authors of “Climate Collateral: How military spending accelerates climate breakdown” — also co-author of The Secure and the Dispossessed: How the Military and Corporations Are Shaping a Climate-Changed World.
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Re: COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:16 am

“A Carbon Bomb”: Movement Grows Against EACOP East African Pipeline Funded by France’s Total & China
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 16, 2022 ... st_african

COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, has been called the African COP, but many African climate activists cannot afford to attend. Broadcasting from the summit, we speak to Omar Elmawi, campaign coordinator for Stop the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, about the push to stop the construction of a major pipeline that would stretch 900 miles from Uganda to Tanzania. Key financial backers of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline include the French company Total and the China National Offshore Oil Company. “It’s a project that is strongly being opposed by people in Uganda and the whole world, because it’s going to be displacing over 100,000 people in East Africa, and it’s also going to be causing a lot of impacts to nature,” says Elmawi. He adds that the region should transition instead to renewable energy such as solar.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit, COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, as we end today’s show looking at a movement to stop a major oil pipeline in East Africa to connect Uganda’s Lake Albert oil fields to the Port of Tanga in Tanzania. Key financial backers of the 900-mile East African Crude Oil Pipeline, known as EACOP, include the French company Total and the China National Offshore Oil Company. Environmental groups have fought the project for years, warning it will have a devastating impact on the region and produce vast greenhouse gas emissions. One group recently described the project as a, quote, “mid-sized carbon bomb.”

To talk about EACOP, we’re joined by Omar Elmawi. He is campaign coordinator of the Stop East African Crude Oil Pipeline campaign, co-founder of deCOALonize, based in Kenya.

Welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to be with you here in Sharm el-Sheikh. Omar, talk about this oil pipeline. For a global audience, place it for us. And who’s behind it?

OMAR ELMAWI: Thank you for inviting me.

This is a pipeline that’s been proposed in East Africa, which is going to be the longest heated pipeline, to be able to take the oil that was discovered in the Lake Albert region in 2006 in Uganda all the way to Tanzania so that it can be put into tankers and then taken into international markets for being utilized for other issues within these countries.

So, it’s a project that is strongly being opposed by people in Uganda and the whole world, because it’s going to be displacing over 100,000 people in East Africa, and it’s also going to be causing a lot of impacts to nature. One of the biggest biodiversity sectors, called the Murchison Falls Park, is going to be affected. And then it’s also a carbon bomb, as you’ve already said, because it’s going to be emitting over 34 million tons of CO2 every year for the next 20 years that it’s going to be operational.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how is Total and this Chinese company having the authority to build this?

OMAR ELMAWI: Because the way they proposed this project is that after Uganda discovering the oil, they realized that it’s a costly process, and they don’t have the money to mine it by themselves, so they invited interested parties to come in and submit their interest to be able to exploit it.

But then the unfortunate thing is that now Total took advantage of this process, and they managed to come up on top, and they managed to get — to become the biggest shareholder of the project. They own over 62% of the pipeline, and they own a whole operation, 100% operation of one of the biggest oil fields in the region. And they’ve signed agreements that are giving tax benefits to the corporates, where they’re getting a tax holiday for up to 10 years. They won’t be paying a penny for all the oil revenues that are selling out.

And I know for — people who are watching will be asking, “Then why is the government signing on to these agreements?” And to me, in my mind, I’m also asking the same questions, because it’s either the government is really ignorant about its interests in what they’re doing with all of this process, or, secondly, someone has been compromised, and they are not making decisions on behalf of the interests of the public, but the interests of their own stomachs.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about how the profits from this, if there are profits, are apportioned between the oil companies, Total, China, and the countries, Uganda and Tanzania.

OMAR ELMAWI: If there are any profits, all of them are going to go to the corporates, because the way you make money in the oil business is either you charge taxes over the barrel, per barrel of oil that’s being sold — and they are not doing that, because they’ve already given a tax exception for 10 years. The second way is to have a huge shareholding capacity within the project. And as I’ve already told you, the governments of Uganda and Tanzania are minority shareholders of their own resource that they are considering is coming from their country.

And therefore, what they are doing here is that the only thing that they will benefit are the impacts that are going to be faced for the people, the impacts on the environment, the impacts on health. And they’re the ones who are going to be shouldering all of these issues, because these are areas that they will have to be setting aside government and money from the government to be able to be dealing with these issues.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the groups that are fighting it. And how much effect do they have on the governments of Tanzania and Uganda?

OMAR ELMAWI: This is one of the classical campaigns to show where it started from a community grassroots campaign, where communities living along the corridor, all the way from Uganda, the western Uganda, up to Tanga in Tanzania, came together and decided to start a campaign to stop this project. And in doing so, they started inviting and bringing on board many other voices from the whole part of the continent at first, and now even people coming from all over the world having and showing solidarity. We have organizations and campaigns in France who are pushing and making sure that they’re helping to put pressure on Total. We are having friends in the U.S. who are making sure that the different banks that might be interested in this project don’t give out the money. And therefore, it’s now one of the classical good examples of coming together with global citizens where they’ve shown that the world is indeed a small village.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we just had on yesterday Vanessa Nakate, and she is from Uganda, and she also spoke about EACOP and her opposition. I’m wondering about this COP, COP27, called Africa’s COP. Your thoughts on that? And are these companies that you’re talking about, not to mention the country — how they’re represented here, like Total?

OMAR ELMAWI: I mean, so far, it’s been a huge disappointment. This is not necessarily an African COP, but just a COP that’s happening in Africa. Everything is the same as how it’s been happening from before. The bigger Global North nations are pushing the agenda. Our African leaders are here, not understanding who or where their priorities should be, because they seem to be advancing the priorities of fossil fuel companies by trying to push for things like gas and fossil fuels as a transition fuel for the continent, when actually what they are doing is providing all of these resources for fossil fuel companies to keep exploiting and taking them to the Global North. So, in short, we are opening business as a petrol station for the Global North.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about how people, the wildlife, the animals, the flora, the fauna are affected. You said 100,000 people. Who moves them? And do these countries say they will be compensated? And does that matter if they’re forcibly moved?

OMAR ELMAWI: So, the unfortunate thing is, in Africa, and indeed, in this case, Uganda, when the government is convinced that a project is good for them and for the public, all of us are considered as collateral damage. So, 100,000 people will give way just to make sure that this pipeline takes effect. These are just the people who have to be removed from the process. I haven’t even started speaking about people who are economically displaced, because the pipeline is cutting across areas that is fertile land where people depend for agriculture. It’s cutting across rivers and lakes which are important as not just freshwater sources for the people, but also for fishermen and other people. So, all these are people who are going to be affected.

Definitely, the pipeline is passing across important wildlife areas, some of the game reserves, including the Murchison Falls Park, which actually is home to some of the most important wildlife animals within the continent.

And then, finally, it’s also the aspect around how this project is actually pushing across, you know, people who have been opposed to it and speaking against it having, one way or another, faced government reprisals. There have been a lot of human rights violations in the process. People have been arrested. People have been detained. Organizations have been threatened to have the organization deregistered. And therefore, for us, it doesn’t necessarily look like development, because you don’t force development of people. If they don’t agree to it, then you shouldn’t be putting them in jail.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Omar Elmawi. He’s campaign coordinator of EACOP — stopping EACOP, Stop East African Crude Oil Pipeline campaign, and also the co-founder of deCOALonize. That’s “decolonize,” but the “col” is spelled C-O-A-L. Talk about what that means, how you’re fighting coal and fighting for renewables.

OMAR ELMAWI: Yeah, and it’s sad that at this time and age we’re still talking about coal as an option for energy production for people. I mean, the evidence is there of how harmful it is, how it affects people and everything that it touches.

And therefore, the deCOALonize campaign and what we were trying to do is to show that this project is really wrong. We were able to work with the community across two regions in Kenya, that were the coal fronts, to be able to speak up against this project and to significantly challenge it in courts. And it’s one of the few good examples of success stories where the communities were able to successfully litigate and win a case against the coal interests. And we’ve been able to make sure that that project never takes effect.

And in terms of renewables, it’s the whole reason why we are doing this work, because we are not just saying that we don’t want energy, because we have more than 650 [million] Africans who are energy poor in this continent that require accessible and affordable energy, but the solution shouldn’t be about exploiting these resources and taking them somewhere, but find a solution that provides this energy to them. And the good thing is that renewables are easily decentralized, and we can easily make sure that people get access to this energy and we’re improving their lives and livelihoods.

AMY GOODMAN: Amazing, the amount of solar energy you have in Africa, to say the least, but how little solar power is funded in Africa.

OMAR ELMAWI: And that’s very true, because Africa has the potential to provide over 40% of the world capacity or potential for solar, but only 1% currently of the generation is from solar in Africa. What this tells you is that we have opportunities. We have an opportunity here to take advantage of this resource and actually make money out of it, because it’s not charity. It’s a business opportunity that businesses can do and make a lot of money off without necessarily impacting the people.

AMY GOODMAN: Omar Elmawi, we want to thank you so much for being with us. He’s campaign coordinator of the Stop East African Crude Oil Pipeline campaign, known as EACOP, and co-founder of deCOALonize.
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Re: COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:17 am

Indigenous Activists Tom Goldtooth & Eriel Deranger on the Link Between Colonialism & Climate Crisis
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 17, 2022 ... h_at_cop27

Democracy Now! is broadcasting live from COP27, the U.N. climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where hundreds of activists protested outside the plenary hall Thursday to demand climate justice. We speak to two Indigenous activists and land defenders at the summit, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger and Tom Goldtooth. “It is frontline communities, land defenders and Indigenous peoples that have experienced the loss of our territories at the hands of oil and gas and extractivism,” says Deranger, executive director of Indigenous Climate Action and member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “Colonialism has to be addressed in these hallways, and there’s been lack of political will around that,” says Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and member of the Diné and Dakota nations.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Images and music played today to open the People’s Plenary here at COP27. Yes, this is Democracy Now!, I’m Amy Goodman. We are broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Hundreds of people, including climate activists, Indigenous people, workers, human rights activists and environmental defenders, gathered today for the People’s Plenary at COP27 just before we began this broadcast. They signed on to a People’s Declaration for Climate Justice that includes demands for the decolonization of economies and societies, the repaying of climate debt, and the defense of 1.5 degrees Celsius by reducing emissions to zero by 2030. The statement ends with a call for the release of the imprisoned Egyptian technologist, writer and activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah and all other prisoners of conscience. After the plenary ended, hundreds marched in protest outside the plenary hall.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman. This is Democracy Now! We’re outside the U.N. COP plenary. We’ve just come from a People’s Plenary, where hundreds of people gathered to call for justice and sign off on a statement. The foreign minister of Egypt just passed by. Part of the statement was calling for freedom for the political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah and other political prisoners held in Egypt. Behind us, they’re linking climate justice and human rights. They are shouting, “What do we want? Shut it down!” They’re calling for climate justice for defense of land, air and sea.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, as we continue to cover the U.N. climate summit, we spend the hour with Indigenous activists and land defenders across the Americas. We begin with two guests. Tom Goldtooth is executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. He’s a member of the Diné and Dakota nations and lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. He also happens to be the father of a Hollywood star. That’s Dallas Goldtooth, if you watch Reservation Dogs. Also with us is Eriel Tchekwie Deranger. She is a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the executive director of Indigenous Climate Action.

Tom and Eriel, welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you both back. Eriel, let’s begin with you. I was sitting at the front of this People’s Plenary today. You were right there in the front. And this is as we come to the end of this two-week climate summit. You have been to so many in the past, for at least a decade. What are your biggest concerns right now?

ERIEL DERANGER: I think the reality is, is that the People’s Plenary has become a place for us to voice our concerns about the hypocrisy and the — the hypocrisy of what’s happening within the negotiations. The COPs have become a corporate playground as opposed to a place to come to agreements to address a global climate crisis. We are sidelining human rights, Indigenous rights and the environment to advance instead corporate false solutions.

And so we have to come forward and continue to stand in these spaces and demand more. As Indigenous peoples, we’ve been advocating for an alarm bell on climate change, for solutions that address the history of colonialism, violence on our lands and territories. And instead of those solutions driving the discourse of the negotiations, we’re seeing corporations putting forward false solutions that further entrench us into capitalism and colonialism.

AMY GOODMAN: “Loss and damage.” These are the words that if you go to any of the grassroots organizations that are here, the first three words out of their mouths. What exactly does it mean? And how seriously is this being taken by the countries that are involved with these negotiations?

ERIEL DERANGER: I think that’s a really good question. When it comes to loss and damage, for our communities, we have seen 500 years of colonialism in North America, in Turtle Island, and we have seen the loss and damages to our territories, to our cultures, to our lifeways. And this isn’t just something that’s in Turtle Island; this is across the planet. It is frontline communities, land defenders and Indigenous peoples that have experienced the loss of our lands and territories at the hands of oil and gas and extractivism.

And countries have made promises, all of these big fancy words and promises, to address these loss and damages. But how far back are they going? What do these commitments look like? And who is responsible for those loss and damages? And who is to receive them? Is it states that receive them from other states? How are we to ensure that there is direct resources to the communities that have experienced these loss and damages, as opposed to just new mechanisms for states to take and to further entrench our communities into more loss and damages in our homelands?

AMY GOODMAN: Tom Goldtooth, you were right there at the People’s Plenary, and you’ve been there for decades at these U.N. climate summits. Some of the young activists were born after the COPs began. What do you think of what has been accomplished at this point? And what do you want to see happen?

TOM GOLDTOOTH: Well, one of the very important terminologies that we organized around for this COP is the latest IPCC sixth report that mentions colonialism as a major factor to be considered as we address the climate crisis. And that’s very important as we look at colonialism, but also the colonialism that represents the financial institutions, colonialism that has affected the inability of world leaders, after the 27th year of coming back, to really seriously address keeping fossil fuels in the ground. That’s the elephant in the room. That has been the issue.

You know, so, with a lot of other progress that we have had and been part of as Indigenous peoples, the big issue still is making a commitment to have a global initiative to meet that Paris Agreement of a threshold 1.5 Celsius. And the world is not on track. The United States is way off. Countries, industrialized countries, are way off. So, that’s what I see is the big issue. And colonialism has to be addressed in these hallways, and there’s been lack of political will around that.

AMY GOODMAN: “Colonialism” often seen on people’s bumper stickers: “CO2lonialism.” Colonialism. Tom, the U.S. climate envoy, John Kerry, the former presidential candidate and senator, a few weeks ago, at The New York Times, said that loss and damage means liability and compensation, which is why they can’t deal with it. But there’s been a lot of pushback, and he’s changed what he has said somewhat. You’re from the United States but also sovereign nations in the United States, the Diné, the Navajo and the Dakota people. What does that mean to you for reservations, for nations, Indigenous nations in the United States?

TOM GOLDTOOTH: A couple days ago, I was fortunate to be at a meeting to where John Kerry sat on my left, and we kind of knocked elbows together —

AMY GOODMAN: He sat on your lap?

TOM GOLDTOOTH: On my left.

AMY GOODMAN: Oh, on your left!

TOM GOLDTOOTH: Yeah, L-E-F-T. Well, I don’t think if it would have been appropriate for him to sit on my lap. But he was on my left.

And we were able to exchange a couple notes together. And he took of concern the issues that I brought up about the continued issue around domestic issues of getting appropriations to address climate issues. It’s not just a adaptation, however, issue. It’s mitigation. How do we prevent our situation as American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to be able to positively look to our future? It concerns food sovereignty. It concerns, in fact, access to our lands that have been lost through the 371 treaties that have been violated by the United States. How do we get those lands back? And how do we protect our ecosystems, our biodiversity? Not through market mechanisms, which is a major mitigation plan of the United States, such as 30 by 30 conservation biodiversity offsets, our carbon market offsets, that do not cut emissions at source, by the way, and they’re just a mechanism to allow the polluters off the hook, so that they can go carbon-neutral but not cut their emissions at source.

So this is a major issue with us that I addressed to John as far as one of the climate reparation issues that we need to address as Native First Nation peoples, as American Indian tribes in the U.S. And he said he would get back to me and we would have meetings on it. He did say that they are looking at mechanisms to prevent — to create safeguards to prevent those things I mentioned, but we’re versed on that, too, around how safeguards are not really an adequate mechanism to address keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

AMY GOODMAN: You have been critical of the Inflation Reduction Act. Many felt at least it got some money toward renewable technologies. What’s your concern?

TOM GOLDTOOTH: Well, definitely, in America, we need jobs. We need to look at different methods of diversity in economic development. And Indigenous peoples and tribes, we’re there. We’re willing to meet and to work out things. We have an Indigenous Just Transition initiative that looks at that.

But the problem with this act is that it put millions of dollars into false solutions. For an example, in Department of Agriculture, there’s legislation, that’s already been couched, that allows climate-smart agriculture that puts the soil into our carbon market system of carbon sequestration. Again, this is part of a market system that does not cut emissions at source, and it also beefs up research and mechanisms to bring geoengineering now as a solution for mitigating climate.

And a lot of that, those technologies, have been a violation of the spiritual teachings that we have as Indigenous peoples. On carbon markets, bringing air into a market system to where it’s a property right issue, where they have to define whose property right is carbon before they can trade it as a commodity, that’s a violation of the sacred. So, how do we reconcile, as Indigenous people, living in a system, let alone our own self participating in a false system like that, to where the repercussions are very serious to us? For one thing, it does not address the climate issue.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Eriel Deranger, in Canada, Justin Trudeau did not come here. President Biden did. What is happening in Canada around pipeline politics, around overall energy, when it comes to the First Nations?

ERIEL DERANGER: You know, from my perspective, what it appears is that the Canadian government is creating a lot of flowery languages, a lot of promises that feel empty and devoid of actual critical mechanisms for implementation and on holding them accountable to their promises. Instead, what we’re seeing from the actual government when it comes to action on climate is they’re continuing to try to push dirty pipelines like the Trans Mountain pipeline, which is a tar sands pipeline that delivers tar sands from my territory in Treaty 8 to the coast and off to international markets. We’re seeing the continued expansion of the Alberta tar sands with plans not to even begin to slow down until after 2030.

This isn’t a just transition. This is not a strategy that addresses climate, and it’s not a strategy that addresses Indigenous rights. And Canada is hedging all of its bets on things like false solutions, carbon markets, Indigenous protected and conservation areas to offset their emissions, that does nothing, as Tom says, to cut emissions at source. Instead, what it does is it allows these corporations to continue business as usual. For me, that means that my territory continues to be ravaged by the Alberta tar sands. Our waterways, our animals, our species are continuing to decline in quality and health. Our peoples are not even able to hunt our bison anymore. There’s no protection for our species, because business is more important.

The question that I’ve heard pop up here in the hallways is: Who are we even trying to save the planet for anymore? It doesn’t seem like it’s for our people and our species and our relatives, but it’s for corporations, so they can continue to have a bottom line of billions of dollars to appease their shareholders.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to someone who so deeply cared about all of these issues, like both of you, someone you both know very well, the longtime water protector Joye Braun, who died Sunday at her home in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, at the age of 53, citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Nation, organizer for Tom’s Indigenous Environmental Network, at the Sacred Stone resistance camp since the first day of the protest at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is Joye Braun on Democracy Now! last year.

JOYE BRAUN: We need to unite together to let this administration know that we are serious, and, you know, we’re tired. We go to all the hearings. We do the petitions. We make the phone calls. And it’s not working. They’re still allowing pipelines to go through illegally. Dakota Access pipeline is still an illegal pipeline. And, of course, they did not do a full EIS on Line 3, and they’re ignoring treaty rights on Line 5 and Mountain Valley pipeline.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Joye Braun last year. Tom Goldtooth, she worked with you at the Indigenous Environmental Network. Talk about — we were interviewing her when she was in Washington. What were you doing there?

TOM GOLDTOOTH: Well, you know, we have a campaign to lift up the issues around fossil fuels. We have a campaign lifting up that we have solutions like our Indigenous principles of just transition. So this was the issue we needed to lift up, the whole contradiction of the U.S. continuing business as usual with fossil fuels.

And so, she was there as our pipeline organizer. And part of her role is to network and bring together all the different frontlines dealing with pipelines. And she definitely — she was our warrior woman. But she had such love and compassion for the people and for Mother Earth.

And we’re still devastated, you know, in this loss. We were here, and when we heard about it — I got woken up in the middle of the night, our time, and it was her daughter, Morgan Brings Plenty, who found her. And she’s working with us in the media area, too. So, you know, it was a setback, definitely. But, you know, in many ways, she was one of those type of women that said, “You’ve got to go on. You’ve got to fight the fight. Be strong.” And this is hard work, especially as Indigenous peoples fighting for a long history of colonialism, fighting for our land and our rights, our food system. She was always that person, and close to her family. You know, a lot of people don’t know her beloved puppy dog passed away just a matter of days after when she passed away.

But she gives hope to us. We had a big gathering here, and a lot of people here globally came to honor her memory. And we had prayer and song from all cultures. And it’s part of the movement building that we’re experiencing here at this COP that continues on from Glasgow, civil society coming together.

AMY GOODMAN: Eriel, I give you the final words on Joye Braun.

ERIEL DERANGER: Yeah. I think I just want to say, and honor her memory, that she came up to our territory as a part of one of Indigenous Climate Action’s land camps, where we were bringing together land defenders and pipeline defenders coming to our territories. And she really brought so much spirit, and she really lived up to her name, as Joye, and really brought us together to really galvanize us from her experiences in Standing Rock. And she brings that spirit here now, even though she can’t be with us.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, executive director of Indigenous Climate Action, she lives in Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada. And Tom Goldtooth, the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, he lives usually in Bemidji, Minnesota. But they are both here at the U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
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Re: COP 27 Climate Summit, by Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow

Postby admin » Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:18 am

Amazon Leader Welcomes Climate Vow from Brazil’s Lula to End Deforestation with Indigenous Help
by Amy Goodman
NOVEMBER 17, 2022 ... lula_cop27

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva addressed world leaders at the U.N. climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Wednesday, vowing to end deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and create a ministry to represent Indigenous peoples in his government. Brazil’s new approach to climate change aims to reverse outgoing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies that have devastated Indigenous lands. “With Lula’s support, we can fight against deforestation and support Indigenous peoples in protecting and confronting the threats they face, including assassinations and human rights violations,” says Gregório Mirabal, an Indigenous leader from the Venezuelan Amazon. His colleague Atossa Soltani, board president of Amazon Watch, translated for him.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, earlier this week, on Wednesday, the Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva spoke. He pledged to recommit Brazil to tackling the climate crisis as he replaces far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

PRESIDENT-ELECT LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] The planet warns all of us of the time that we need each other to survive. Alone, we are vulnerable to climate tragedies. However, we ignore these alerts. We spend trillions of dollars on wars that bring destruction and death, while 900 million people in the world don’t have something to eat. …

No one is safe. Climate emergency affects everyone, although its effects affect more vulnerable people. Inequality between the rich and the poor manifests itself even in the efforts to reduce effects of climate change. …

Dear companions, there is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon. We will spare no efforts to have zero deforestation and the degradation of our biomes by 2030. …

We are going to rigorously punish those responsible for any illegal activity, whether it’s mining, gold digging, wood extraction or agricultural occupation. These crimes affect mostly the Indigenous people. That is why we will create the Ministry of Indigenous People, so that Indigenous people present to the government policies that guarantee them their survival, security, peace and sustainability. …

The second initiative is to put forward Brazil as a host for COP30 in 2025. We will be increasingly assertive in the face of the challenges of climate change. We will be aligned to the compromises made in Paris, and driven by the quest for decarbonization of the global economy.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva speaking at the U.N. climate summit here in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The former president is due to take office January, when he will replace Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who oversaw major deforestation of the Amazon and deregulation of extractive industries as Indigenous environmental leaders and also journalists were systematically killed and attacked.

Nearly 60% of the Amazon rainforest falls within Brazil’s borders, and its future depends in part on the direction President-elect Lula takes. As Democracy Now! broadcasts from COP27 here in Egypt, on Tuesday, we spoke about this and more with Gregório Mirabal, Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, or COICA. He’s an Indigenous leader from the Venezuelan Amazon and one of the highest-profile people from the Amazon at this summit. His colleague, Atossa Soltani, interpreted for him. She’s the director of global strategy for the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative, founder and board president of Amazon Watch. I asked Gregório Mirabal what he is calling for here at COP27.

GREGÓRIO MIRABAL: [translated] First, I want to thank you for giving us this opportunity to share with you our dreams, our visions and our aspirations.

We’re here because last year in Glasgow a lot of promises were made to support Indigenous peoples, technically, financially and politically. Towards implementation of this action, we are back here working to make sure that there’s implementation of those promises. So far there hasn’t been progress.

Once again, we’re here to say that the Amazon is reaching a point of no return. We announced that last year, and we’re here again saying that the Amazon needs urgent action, and we Indigenous peoples are bringing forth solutions. Scientists agree that Indigenous peoples are doing the best job as protectors of the forest and that Indigenous solutions need to be supported. So, once again, we’re here to demand the technical, political and financial support that we need to continue to protect our forest and avoid the tipping point.

AMY GOODMAN: The significance of the Atabapo River, which now sits at the tri-border of Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela?

GREGÓRIO MIRABAL: [translated] Where I live, where I come from, is the union of four important rivers: the Atabapo, the Guainia, the Río Negro and the Orinoco. This conjunction, this confluence of these rivers are one of the largest confluences within the Amazon basin, and they flow — these rivers eventually flow to the Amazon. It was NASA who discovered that the deserts in the Sahara of Africa bring much-needed nutrients and are connected to the Amazon basin and feed the Amazon basin. And the Amazon basin creates flying rivers that feed the world, that are vital for the planet. So we are here to say that these four rivers are vital for the future of life on the planet.

AMY GOODMAN: One of these major Amazon countries, Brazil, has a new leader, Lula, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He will be president again. And he’s also at this summit, like you are, Gregório. I’m wondering if you can talk about his significance and what happened to the Amazon under the Brazilian President Bolsonaro?

GREGÓRIO MIRABAL: [translated] The importance of having Lula here is that we are seeing a political shift. Lula, in his election, had committed to support us, support Indigenous peoples, support biodiversity, support the future of the rainforest, and that this is — with Lula’s support, we can fight against deforestation and support Indigenous peoples in protecting and confronting the threats they face, including assassinations and human rights violations.

Bolsonaro was bent on the destruction of the Amazon. Under his leadership, we saw an increase in deforestation. And we saw an increase in human rights violations for all of the Indigenous peoples. Bolsonaro put at risk the entire Amazon basin, as well as all of humanity.

With Lula coming into office, we are hopeful that he will follow through with his promises to protect the Amazon and to avoid a tipping point and to help Indigenous peoples protect their territories.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re from the area that is known as Venezuela. What is your assessment of Maduro, the president of Venezuela, and his treatment of Indigenous people and the Amazon region?

GREGÓRIO MIRABAL: [translated] The last four years, I’ve been focused on all of the Amazon basin. But what I can tell you, that the big threats to the Venezuelan Amazon are deforestation and illegal mining, and that for years this has been increasing. The rate of deforestation has been increasing.

However, recently, President Petro of Colombia has managed to convince President Maduro to come back to the negotiations here at COP to step up into his commitment to protect the forest, to join the efforts of Lula, Petro and the world in protecting the Amazon. And hopefully, that’s not just a promise and that it is actually what ends up happening, because we are urgently needing for this to happen.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the most powerful corporations, what they’re doing to the Amazon, and also this whole issue of loss and damage, U.N. speak for reparations by the wealthiest, most polluting countries? The U.S. is the historically largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, China the largest current greenhouse gas emitter. What is their responsibility to the Amazon, and what can they do to repair it?

GREGÓRIO MIRABAL: [translated] Saving the Amazon is going to cost billions of dollars, a lot of money. However, when you consider the amount of money spent in the Ukraine-Russia war, it’s equivalent to about three days of what we’re spending in that war to save the Amazon.

However, there are also irreversible damages, irreversible loss happening to the Amazon. And this is caused by a lot of petroleum drilling, by monoculture, cattle ranching and gold. These irreversible harms, irreparable harms are being a responsibility of big countries like China, Russia, the United States, and that they need to take responsibility for restoring and repairing the harm they’re creating in the Amazon.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what it means to be an Indigenous land defender? Latin America is the deadliest place for environmentalists like you. How do you both defend the land and defend yourselves?

GREGÓRIO MIRABAL: [translated] In this moment, we’re calling for the ratification of the Escazú Agreement. This agreement would help to prevent assassinations and persecution of Indigenous land defenders. Right now to be a defender of the forest in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia or Brazil, it is really literally accepting a death sentence. What we’re seeing in many cases, Indigenous peoples have been charged with lawsuits, have been basically sued and are facing criminal charges. For example, the leader of the Indigenous peoples of Ecuador, Leonidas Iza, has 16 cases, 16 charges against him. And so, for leaders in the Amazon, we have to protect their life and their ability to be defenders. In each day two Indigenous leaders are assassinated in the Amazon basin. And this has to change.

AMY GOODMAN: Gregório Mirabal, Indigenous climate activist from the Venezuelan Amazon, coordinator of COICA. That is the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin.

Coming up, we hear from more Indigenous land defenders, from Central America, from Guatemala and Mexico. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Chief Ninawa Huni Kui, president-elect of the Huni Kui Federation in the Brazilian state of Acre. He was performing today, praying today, at the People’s Plenary, just an hour before we went to broadcast. To see our interview with him at the COP in Lima, Peru, several years ago, go to
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