Statement by Rachel Rose Jackson, Director: Climate Research & Policy at Corporate Accountability
Twenty seven COPs. Twenty seven chances to avert climate catastrophe. Twenty seven opportunities to save millions of lives. Twenty seven moments that could have altered the course of history. Yet as the clock winds down on this year’s climate talks, COP27 is looking set to deliver another global failure…unless world governments can muster resolve in the 11th hour that has eluded them to this point.
Let’s be absolutely clear. Should COP27 fail yet again to deliver a package of real solutions, climate finance, and global collaboration, the weight of this failure does not fall on every government’s shoulders equally. The United States government, despite promising otherwise, has dominated the global diplomatic stage seemingly determined to renege on critical commitments, leaving a trail of battered obligations as the world’s largest historical polluter and climate chaos in its wake. And true to form, other rich, polluting governments like the EU and UK are not far behind.
This is the country that bills itself as “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Yet there is no freedom in condemning frontline communities around the world and in its own backyard to the rising tides and intensifying droughts. And there is no bravery in abandoning others in the fight for their lives—that is cowardice. And to the EU and other Global North governments: letting another do the bulk of your dirty work only means your legacy will be leaving current and future generations a planet in a state of peril.
COP27 must deliver the official agreement to establish long overdue finance for Loss and Damage. Even if it will take more time to chart out exactly how such a finance facility works, world governments must agree to do this here, and to have this facility up and running on an urgent timeline. The US government and its Global North cohorts must stop their dirty tricks; communities already in the throes of climate catastrophe have no more time to play games.
COP27 must advance global collaboration and finance to implement real solutions at scale through Article 6.8 and stop wasting time we do not have setting up a carbon market free-for-all through Article 6.2 and 6.4 that would likely send emissions soaring. Carbon markets and offsets are schemes that we already know do not work at the scale required, involve unproven technology, and risk great harm to people and the planet. Yet to take these already faulty schemes and then seek to gut them of any environmental or human rights safeguards— while opening up the planet for wide scale geoengineering—signals a whole new level of recklessness.
COP27 must acknowledge the role that fossil fuels (no, not just coal) play in emissions, and that there is no room for “abatement” or any form of further subsidy, which would pave the way for fossil fuel expansion. Adhering to the reality that further expansion is incompatible with 1.5 degrees Celsius, it must seek to justly phase out all fossil fuels, full stop. Or else, what are we doing here?
COP27 cannot pit one form of finance owed against another equally owed. Finance for adaptation must be doubled, with clear steps and timeline for delivery, and must not come at the expense of progress on Loss and Damage finance. The payment of the Global North’s climate debt is not charity, it’s not good will. It’s owed, and overdue.
COP27 must not be the moment where Global North countries skewer equity and roast it. The UNFCCC is founded on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility—or fairness. No rewriting of history can happen here. Global North countries: you broke it, so fix it. Do not point fingers elsewhere, not before looking in the mirror.
COP27 must be the last time polluting corporations are allowed to write the rules and bankroll the climate talks. At least 636 fossil fuel lobbyists registered to attend these talks, and almost every COP27 sponsor directly supports or partners with the fossil fuel industry. It’s time to do what should have been done three decades ago, and establish an Accountability Framework that protects climate action from the deadly agenda of the fossil fuel industry and other polluters.
We cannot keep looking to the horizon for the “next COP” to account for the sins of the last. Though the clock is running down, time is not yet up. World governments must U-turn and make COP27 a moment of reckoning. One where the Global North finally honors its climate debt. One where real solutions are not swept aside for Big Polluters’ wish list. And one where people matter more than corporate profits.