COP27: Klein Calls for Boycott of COP28

The author’s salvo follows a gathering at which activists were harassed, surveilled and sidelined by Egypt’s authoritarian government as lobbyists from Exxon, Chevron and other fossil fuel giants swarmed the venue. 

People’s Plenary, COP27, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Nov. 17. (UNclimatechange, Flickr)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

Author and environmentalist Naomi Klein this week urged civil society organizations to boycott the 2023 COP climate summit in the United Arab Emirates — one of the world’s largest oil producers — after this year’s summit concluded without any concrete action to phase-out fossil fuels, despite the best efforts of campaigners from around the world.

Listing off some of the marked failures of COP27 — from the host government of Egypt’s refusal to release political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah to the “weak climate agreement that protects polluters” — Klein argued in a series of tweets that “now is the time to decide not to do this all over again next year, when the summit will be in the UAE. Of all places.”

[Related: COP27: Alaa Abd El-Fattah & ‘Defying Defeat’]

“Civil society should announce a boycott + instead hold a true people’s summit,” Klein wrote. “One gathering per continent to limit flying. Links to the official summit by video.”

“There can be lobbying sessions built into the COP28 program with governments who will obviously go to the UAE,” she continued. “But why should civil society expend the carbon, money, and time to join them just to declare it a failure all over again? Let’s try something new.”

Klein’s call for a new oppositional approach to the annual United Nations climate summit came in the wake of a gathering at which civil society was harassed, surveilled, and sidelined by Egypt’s authoritarian government as lobbyists from Exxon, Chevron, and other fossil fuel giants responsible for record-high greenhouse gas emissions swarmed the summit, fighting off efforts to include a fossil fuel phase-out in the summit’s final text.

As the Financial Times reported, “The final hours of the summit were marked by a push from dozens of countries to include a pledge to phase down all fossil fuels, which was ultimately unsuccessful.”

Klein was hardly alone in lamenting the repeated failures of COP summits to directly confront the industry driving the climate crisis and stressing the urgent need to develop alternative avenues toward achieving ambitious climate action — particularly as COP28 in the U.A.E. appears set to deliver more of the same.

“It is extraordinary that in 30 years of U.N. climate negotiations, eliminating the primary cause of global heating has never been mentioned in the decisions,” Damian Carrington, The Guardian‘s environment editor, wrote Sunday in a postmortem on the Paris climate accord’s critical 1.5°C warming target, which continues to slip further out of reach as fossil fuel extraction proceeds apace. “Given that next year’s U.N. climate summit will be hosted by a petrostate, the United Arab Emirates, it is hard to see how a crackdown on fossil fuels will happen there either.”

“It remains imperative to get off coal, oil, and gas as rapidly as possible. Every tonne of CO2 that remains in the ground means less harm to lives and livelihoods,” Carrington added.

“Can the U.N. climate talks deliver this at speed? It does not look that way. It is too easy for the fossil fuel states to hold the consensus-based negotiations to ransom, threatening to blow up the whole thing if their black gold is so much as mentioned by name. There were more fossil fuel lobbyists at Cop27 than delegates from the Pacific islands, which their industry is pushing below the waves.”

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

7 comments for “COP27: Klein Calls for Boycott of COP28

  1. Vera Gottlieb
    November 25, 2022 at 10:53

    All these world meetings, where the rich elite gather pretending to have our interests at heart, is nothing more than the usual ‘blah, blah, blah’ to safeguard their fortunes.

  2. Sally Tree
    November 24, 2022 at 13:07

    Why did anyone expect anything different from COP27? Or perhaps I should say, COP-OUT27? It was the same format as COP-OUT26, and COP-OUT25, and all the other COP-OUTs. What about this one made any of those who were wealthy enough activists to travel the world to attend these COP-OUTs, believe that this excursion to be any different from all of the other COP-OUTs? Was there a memo sent out that said to these ‘activists’ that this time press conferences and meaningless statements by activists will actually change the world?

    The symbol of these COP-OUTs should be a fiddle. You know the one, the one that is played while the world burns. The one that the rich are dancing to and laughing to while we suffer the consequences of their actions.

    The world has been changed in the past. But not by activists holding press conferences and making statements. That of course is useless, and has never in history successfully changed the world. And these wealthy activists ‘boycotting’ the next COP-OUT and holding their press conferences and making their statements in another location will not change the world either.

    The world can be changed. History shows us how. This is not it.

  3. Richard Burrill
    November 23, 2022 at 19:08

    COP28 will be worth only about 28 Colombian Pesos considering how the corporations and dictators have taken over all of the previous COPs.

  4. mgr
    November 23, 2022 at 07:42

    The bottom line is that fossil fuels must remain in the ground, as much and as quickly as possible, because, simply put, that is the one and only thing that makes any difference toward mitigating the effects of climate warming and change. It would be nice if there was a more comfortable solution, some high-tech magic or some other silver bullet, but the fossil fuel burning party and the dependency of modern society, capitalism in particular, on the ease of fossil fuels for energy, has been going on for a long time and we have used up any buffer of protection that we may have had. It’s like a late-stage addiction where the only course left is cold-turkey. Note that this is often a choice that an addict cannot make for themselves and in fact will often fight furiously against.

    The salient point is that it will never be easier to make the change than right now. Each day of lack-of-will to get it done only makes it more difficult and more expensive, and more fraught. And the heart of the problem is that if we do not do it now, voluntarily, Nature herself is going to force that change on us, like it or not, in the most horrible and dramatic way imaginable, in ways that make the survival of our species on this planet nearly impossible. That is the stark choice, do it voluntarily with some control over the process or have it done to us with no options at all. Time is not slipping, it is running away.

    As for the fossil fuel promoters of all stripes, which, oh big surprise, obviously include our whole military industrial complex world-wide, well, in light of their dedicated, even rabid, efforts to obstruct any possible chance for a sustainable future for humanity, all for the sake of a bit more personal profit now, I honestly cannot think of anything that justifies their further existence. They are like an infection in the body of humanity. Either eliminate the infection or the body dies. It has literally come to the point where it’s either us, humanity and a future, or them, like it or not.

  5. Scared Person
    November 22, 2022 at 22:55

    COPx has always been about how to save the world from capitalist profit and over-consumption, but only using capitalism.

    The owners of the industries which are the largest polluters, are also the most politically powerful people who craft influential narratives for a population who’s existence seems to be considered optional. Our lifestyles are their playthings, for profit.

    The private profit motive will always be in conflict with the concepts of collective well-being, democracy, peace. Private wealth and private ownership, have become private political power in a grow-or-die model. Private political power will grow before it dies.

    To revolt, is to meet violence with violence and become a monster which fights monsters. One side though, wants domination which risks total extinction, and the other wants perpetuation of life in a justified equilibrium.

    I guess not much of this matters, when narrative control, is more powerful than any pitchfork. To pick up pitchforks, people would have to believe something other than the narrow set of saturating, indoctrinating narratives designed to prevent any popular unity of purpose.

    …or maybe it’s just me, and everything’s fine.

    • Lois Gagnon
      November 23, 2022 at 17:15

      Strikes are ramping up around the globe. A global strike for climate would put the brakes on capitalism at any cost.

      • Scared Person
        November 24, 2022 at 01:49

        I dearly hope you are correct. I have seen strikes rise and die before. Governments have seen this before too. We protestors have trained the state in all the tactics required to ensure we feel free to object, but get no results and burn out. The state in turn, keeps training us to find new ways to object. Like a cold war, I guess. The worst bit, is when the people the protestors are trying to help, are turned into enemies via narrative control. Where people gluing themselves to things are considered a worse disruption than… well… mass extinction. It’s a helluva trick to witness. Profit flows on. Power stays where it is.

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