COP 26 MUST GUARANTEE AN ECOFEMINIST FUTURE FOR THE PLANET!

As global leaders convene in Glasgow, Scotland for the 26th Conference of Parties (COP 26) summit, we African feminists, gender justice advocates and civil society join the rest of world to demand for urgent action on the global climate crisis. Alarm bells have been sounded that we are at a tipping point of the climate crisis, and that without meaningful socio-political and economic commitments to transform at this summit, the clock is ticking for humanity and all life on this planet. While everyone will suffer as a result of climate change, the brunt of the impact of the climate crisis is and will continue to be gendered, racialized and classed. We therefore demand the centering of the voices of indigenous communities, women and other minoritized groups from the Global South in global decision making to guarantee that the solutions are just and inclusive. Further, as negotiations take place at COP, we must first start from a place of establishing truths—that this crisis was created by Global North countries that account for 92% of excess global emissions[1] and yet Africans, coastal and island communities with negligible contributions will pay the ultimate price. The 2021 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that the rate of surface temperature increase has generally been more rapid in Africa than the global average, among many other changes being experienced, with human-induced climate change being the dominant driver. Global North countries must therefore bear the ultimate responsibility for this crisis that they helped create and that they continue to exacerbate by protecting the commercial practices and interests of multi-national corporations that keep spewing carbon emissions in the atmosphere with impunity. We reject performative solutions that are ostensibly dealing with the crisis by amplifying empty slogans about green growth and yet the ultimate goal is to further enrich private interests.

 

To ensure an ecofeminist future for the planet, we therefore;

  1. Demand the adoption of an intersectional approach in the assessment of the viability of any climate solutions to ensure that it does not burden communities, and especially women of the Global South, given their primary role in the care economy. This should be in recognition of the fact that they already face various forms of oppression due to their gender, race, social-economic class, sexual orientation, ability, and ethnicity, among others. It is feared for instance that certain solutions may potentially proliferate: deforestation of Africa’s vast grasslands and rich savannah biomes (which are ancient and much older than human societies), land dispossession to pave way for tree planting projects for carbon credits, and loss of ground water resources, among others.

 

  1. Urge African leaders to demand for climate reparations and the fulfillment of the yearly USD100 billion commitment for climate adaptation as one way to rectify climate injustice by those most responsible for the climate crisis. Climate change is hugely unjust. The world’s richest 1% account for twice as much carbon dioxide emissions compared to that of 3.1 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity and continue to be disproportionately affected by the climate crisis[2]. African leaders must demand for climate reparations because these schemes go much further than simply providing ‘pay-back’; they are about tackling oppressive historical systems of colonialism and exploitation. They are also about tackling abusive economic systems such as taxation frameworks that facilitate Illicit Financial Flows that have left countries in the global South, such as in Africa, without the necessary resources to adopt mechanisms that guarantee just and inclusive climate transition and build their resilience to the climate crisis. African leaders should specifically demand for ‘corrective justice’, where high greenhouse gas emitters must financially compensate those who have been disproportionately harmed and consciously circumvent the risk of reversal of roles and responsibilities This pathway will enable those on the receiving end of funds to strengthen their resilience to growing climate concerns with funds available for disaster risk reduction and adaptation.

 

  1. Demand financial institutions, particularly, International Financial Institutions and development partners to finance local solutions for climate mitigation and adaption such as non-genetically modified foods, and cyclical and sustainable agro-ecological farming practices, etc., held by indigenous communities. Genetic resources and traditional knowledge are indispensable alternative to industrialized farming which according to estimates, costs the environment the equivalent of about US$3 trillion every year owing to the greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, and destruction of wildlife. This is because externalized costs, such as the funds required to purify contaminated drinking water or to treat diseases related to poor nutrition, are also unaccounted for by the industry, meaning that communities and taxpayers may be picking up the tab without even realizing it.

 

  1. Call upon world leaders to acknowledge the legacies of colonialism and how patterns of neo-liberal capitalist exploitation have contributed to the climate crisis, and how this continues even in the solutions being deliberated. African leaders must take back their power and reject the current political, economic and social systems and structures that are steeped in patriarchy, imperialism and capitalism. They must must build Pan African solidarity to challenge neoliberal global system, economic or otherwise, that entrenches many structural inequities in access to power, resources, opportunities and well-being that determine a just and inclusive climate transition.

 

  1. Challenge world leaders to become more proactive rather than reactive in their responses to keeping global warming below 1.5° Celsius, as stated in the Paris Agreement. They must commit to end fossil fuel expansion and rapidly invest in accelerating a just and inclusive energy transition; prioritize rolling back on privatization of renewable and regenerative energy resources and its supply to ensure enhanced affordability, accessibility, availability and adaptability; and decentralize and democratize ownership of renewable and regenerative solution; and invest in community-owned solar and wind, public green utilities and nationalized renewable energy industries.

 

  1. Task world leaders to urgently rethink and reject the “net zero” concept which has in effect limited countries to only focusing on efforts to offset carbon emissions. Such offsetting programmes are behindgrabbing of large areas of Africa’s lands and even displacing small producers for massive tree plantation projects for carbon credits while allowing for the continued burning of fossil fuels. “Net” in climate policy means not only foreseeing actual emissions reduction but also planning on forests, croplands, wetlands to act as carbon sinks and absorb some of these emissions, which means the actual reduction target is lower than the actual pledge made. Net zero pledges have only worked to increase carbon green neocolonialism. COP 26 should therefore adopt and recommend the enactment and implementation of extra territorial obligations to oblige industrialized countries of companies operating abroad to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations and to stop land clearing, deforestation and environmental pollution. It is essential that industrialized countries take full responsibility for the emissions their companies generate abroad and take actions to drastically reduce them.

 

  1. Urge world leaders to pay attention to the need for the protection, conservation and revitalization of natural and indigenous forest resources and robust biodiversity, and the respect of women, local communities and indigenous peoples as indispensable stewards. We demand the reforming of international trade and investment agreements that determine seed “ownership” and “use” through the granting of patents and or that impede climate action. We further demand the immediate prohibition of the practice of commercially exploiting naturally occurring genetic material preserved for centuries by indigenous people and communities while failing to pay fair compensation to communities from which it originates and obtaining patents to restrict its future use. The success of forest and biodiversity conservation depends on immediately halting all deforestation, and respecting women’s, indigenous peoples and local communities’ leadership, their local use rights and traditional ecological knowledge.

 

  1. Enjoin world leaders to commit to protecting and addressing violence against environmental activists and indigenous people trying to protect their land, bio-diversity and ancestral. According to Global Witness, a total of 227 people were killed in 2020 while trying to protect forests, rivers and other ecosystems that their livelihoods depended on. Most of these instances of violence perpetrated by mercenaries on the instruction of multi-national corporations have are on the rise which suggests a level of state apathy. World leaders must therefore devise national level solutions to ensure protection of activists and also ensure justice for those who have been harmed.

 

This is the most important summit of our generation. World leaders have an opportunity to guarantee a future for all of humanity and bio-diversity. But they must act, because commitment without action is a death sentence for all of us. We have been reckless with the chances we would have given the planet to heal and regenerate. Now time is up! COP 26 is the only opportunity left to guarantee an ecofeminist future for the planet. A future for all of us.

[1] Lancet Planetary Health, Volume 4, Issue 9

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