The United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP28 kicks off on 30 November in Dubai and will run through to 12 December. As governments across the globe prepare to deploy their leaders and experts to the United Arab Emirates, Oxfam and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have each released fresh data on climate change. Both reports reveal a clear message: Climate politics is class politics. According to the analyses from the UN, the world is hurtling towards a 2.5-2.9°C temperature surge above pre-industrial levels this century. This current trajectory will not change unless countries step up their efforts and bring commitments in line with the goals of the Paris agreement.
The impacts of such global warming, according to science, would be the irreversible destruction of our livelihoods: food production cut by half, mass starvation, ice sheets and glaciers partly collapsing and sea level rising 8 to 14 metres. This would result in hundreds of millions of refugees, and half of the world’s population exposed to frequent and deadly heat waves.
You read that correctly. This dystopian scenario will unfold this century even if all countries actually achieve their own climate goals .
Oxfam complements this analysis, highlighting how the carbon emissions of the richest 1% are set to be 22 times greater than the maximum level compatible with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement in 2030.
While the wealthy indulge, working families bear the brunt of soaring costs and catastrophic climate disasters triggered by human greed. Our economic system is tailored to benefit big corporations and the affluent, enabling massive profits for fossil fuels while bringing about climate breakdown, contaminating our air, and harming our communities.
Addressing the twin crises of inequality and climate change means curbing the disproportionate emissions of the super-rich while prioritising investments in public services and achieving climate objectives.
The Left in the European Parliament has outlined five crucial demands to shape decision-making at COP28.
- Decolonise climate action. Climate policy has long been bound up in colonial frameworks. It’s time for climate justice, for challenging corporate-driven “solutions” and for calling for equitable climate measures worldwide. We demand a wholesale reconstruction of international finance and an immediate mobilisation of climate finance, so that it is commensurate with real needs, particularly in the Global South. This includes an urgent, operational Loss and Damage Fund governed in an equitable and fair way. Rising temperatures continue to break records, leading to more, unprecedented, climate disasters. We urge commitments for grants-based funding at COP28, ensuring that no climate finance leads to increased debt.
- Democratise the COP. At least 636 lobbyists from the oil and gas industriesregistered to attend last year’s COP—an increase of more than 25% from the previous year. When the number of attendees representing polluting corporate actors, which have clear a vested financial interest in maintaining the status quo, is larger than the delegations of nearly every country in attendance, it is easy to see how their presence could obstruct climate action. This year’s COP28 is chaired by the CEO of ADNOC, one of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies. We need an accountability framework to ensure transparency and accountability of climate talks; not only to prevent the hijacking of vital climate talks by fossil fuel interests, but also to ensure a fair decision-making process which includes parties often marginalised, such as Least Developed Countries.
- Decarbonise. Renewable energy, energy efficiency, and fossil fuel phase-out targets are pivotal in this year’s COP decision. These targets need to be science-based and ambitious and must include cutting methane emissions. The potent greenhouse gas is responsible for almost a third of the emissions-induced increase in global temperatures since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Most crucially of all, these targets need concrete political outcomes beyond being pledges for 2030 – they need to be put into law.
- Decapitalise the 1%. Fossil fuel corporations contribute to 70% of global industrial emissions and have continuously reported record-breaking profits in recent years. Simultaneously, the carbon emissions of the richest 1% are set to be 22 times greater than the level compatible with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement in 2030. The ‘polluting rich’ and energy corporations are acting at our expense. It’s time to make big polluters pay. Excessive profits of the fossil fuel industry, luxury goods, and extreme wealth must be taxed.
- Deviate from the same old policies that got us here. The environmental problems we face are not the inevitable result of history, they are the outcome of political choices. We need a complete overhaul in our approach to climate policy grounded in “common but differentiated responsibility”, with radical changes in the production model, promoting local production and consumption, the promotion of collective public transport, the public control of strategic sectors such as energy, a fair regulation of international trade and the defence of peace.
- Diversifying Strategies: Nature-based solutions and increased biodiversity efforts are paramount. Since the last COP, we have a new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF Montreal-Kunming Biodiversity Agreement), and this year’s COP decision should advance its implementation, to tackle the intertwined climate and biodiversity crises . The Global Stocktake will take place at COP28, so we need the parties to agree on sufficiently ratcheting up ambition in line with the goal of 1.5°C – the goal of the Paris Agreement. This requires serious increase in mitigation commitments and implementation, including in the EU.
It’s high time to put equality and justice at the heart of any attempt to tackle climate change. The people who contribute the least are frequently most impacted by the climate crisis, and must be the centre of any solutions.
This battle for climate justice is rooted in class struggle. We challenge the status quo, demanding a radical shift away from exploitative systems. Leaders must prioritise climate protection and equity above all else. Together, we rally for immediate and radical change. Our planet’s future hinges on its now.