COP27 might be over, but the work is certainly not. Senator Dorinda Cox attended the first week of the global climate summit this month to represent the views of the Australian Greens on the world stage, and she shares her experiences of her time in Egypt.
By Senator Dorinda Cox
I was fortunate enough to attend the first week of COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on behalf of The Green Institute and represent the views of the Australian Greens on the world stage. With Labor spruiking their new climate targets and collaboration with First Nations peoples, it was more important than ever to hold them to account and tell truth to power, especially given our Prime Minister didn’t see it as important enough to attend.
I spoke at the Indigenous Peoples Organisation’s event held at the Australian Pavilion and highlighted the hypocrisy of the government ignoring the voices of First Nations people back home who are standing up to mining corporations destroying their Country and cultural heritage while black washing its pavilion at COP.
Despite this, I had some very productive conversations with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water; the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and members of the Australian delegation on how they can work more collaboratively with First Nations people.
I also met with several advocacy groups including The Climate Council, The Australian Institute, Our Islands Our Home, Gudanji for Country, Clean Energy Network, Indigenous Peoples Organisation, Don’t Nuke the Climate Germany, the Indigenous People’s Caucus, the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, The Mother Earth Delegation of United Original Nations and the Center for Biological Diversity to discuss how we can back each other in and put pressure on governments across the globe to transition to cleaner, greener renewable energy sources.
Despite the focus on the Green Climate Fund and loss and damage, the message from grassroots movements was clear: the vulnerable are being left behind while fossil fuel companies are making windfall profits. Many Indigenous communities are yet to see any benefit from the fund and are disproportionately losing their sacred sites and cultural heritage as a result of the climate crisis.
The conference was set around thematic days: the World Leaders Summit, Finance Day, Science and Youth Futures Day, Decarbonisation Day, Adaptation and Agriculture Day, Water and Gender Day, Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) and Civil Society Day, Energy Day, Biodiversity Day and Solutions Day.
The overarching theme however, was that climate finance must equal climate justice. We must ensure developing economies and the most vulnerable are compensated for the loss and damage they face due to the climate crisis before they become climate refugees. We must also ensure climate finance enables renewable energy infrastructure to be built at the scale and speed required to transition to a cleaner energy global economy.
Of particular importance was the focus on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which sets out the rules for international carbon markets. It is crucial that Article 6.4, which allows for an independent mechanism to oppose projects, provides protection for Indigenous peoples and their way of life. We cannot allow manufactured consent to continue as we move towards a zero carbon future. These are the people on the frontline of the climate crisis, whose sovereign land is being destroyed, yet they are usually the ones with the least say. We cannot allow their land to be sold to the highest bidder without transparency and accountability.
Even though COP27 is over, the work is not. We need to keep the pressure on the government to put their money where their mouth is. Australia must take its place as a regional leader and end its dependence on fossil fuels.
We cannot continue to be a petrostate like Russia while we’re bidding to hold a joint COP with our Pacific neighbours who have specifically called on us to stop in the name of their homes, culture and lives. The Pacific is paying the heavy price of Australia’s refusal to tackle the climate crisis and their communities face rising sea levels, annual destruction caused by tropical storms, the loss of arable land and drinking water, and the enormous social and economic challenges of displacement due to the climate crisis.
Before Labor can say ‘Australia is back’, they must tick off the following tasks:
- Sign the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty;
- Join the powering past coal alliance;
- End fossil fuel subsidies; and
- Adopt an emissions reduction target of at least 75 percent like the science is telling us.