In late November, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) will be launched in Dubai. Coming at the end of a year which broke multiple heat records, the event is supposed to set the stage for a major push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost climate change adaptation globally.
But ahead of the conference, there have already been warnings from climate activists and civil society that unless there is a marked change in the approach to climate policies, COP28 could fail to deliver any meaningful progress.
In the Global South, there is persistent worry that wealthy nations and international corporations will push for policies that allow them to continue business as usual, with poorer nations, which are the least responsible for climate change, bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.
Such tendencies have already been observed at previous climate events, including most recently at the Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi in early September.
The conference, which gathered thousands of representatives from governments, businesses, international organisations and civil society, was a chance for African peoples to agree on a common position on issues such as loss and damage compensation, climate mitigation and climate finance ahead of COP28.
But the final document issued by the summit – the Nairobi Declaration – did not reflect a consensus and the best interest of African nations.
This is not surprising, given that lobbyists for Global North countries and corporations were given the space and high-level access to push for false solutions. Meanwhile, many of the delegates – activists and members of civil society calling for clarity and solutions to support our continent – faced access difficulties during proceedings and were left feeling sidelined.
As a result, instead of pushing for policies that would see the Global North compensate African nations for its historic greenhouse gas emissions, which have catalysed global warming, the summit embraced policies that will further hurt African nations.
Its declaration focused heavily on – and legitimised – problematic practices like carbon credits, offsetting, and trading.
These are false solutions and they are not what Africa needs. They constitute a neocolonial tactic that allows the Global North to continue to emit greenhouse gases whilе retaining control over African land and people and taking the credit for African emissions reductions.
Carbon trading is based on the idea that emissions of carbon dioxide in one place can be “offset” by expanding carbon capture activities in another, such as planting new trees or protecting forests to allow for their natural regeneration. This allows the big carbon emitters of the Global North to pay nature-rich countries in the Global South to preserve or expand forested areas.
But a lot of these areas are inhabited by local people who use forests and land for their livelihoods and food. Carbon trading schemes effectively banish the people from their homelands and dispossess them of their rights in the name of preservation and carbon capture.
It has already been well-documented that such schemes are failing to address rising carbon emissions and enable the greenwashing of rich corporations and nations who refuse to reduce their emissions.
If carbon trading is not the solution, then how can the Global North support African countries to finance loss and damage, adaptation and mitigation?
Cap and share is one alternative model that is gaining popularity among climate activists and civil society. The system centres around an international carbon tax that would make polluters – including fossil fuel extractors and major consumers – in the Global North pay.
This tax, applied to fossil fuel extraction, would raise trillions of dollars a year for a global Green New Deal fund, which would finance the transition to renewables and support energy access for all. The fund’s income would also provide grants for loss and damage, adaptation and mitigation in the Global South, as well as universal cash transfers to support ordinary people.
As we move towards COP28, the mistakes of the Africa Climate Summit and other similar climate events should not be repeated. The voices of climate activists and civil society from the Global South need to be heard.
We say no to carbon markets. We say no to selling Africa’s carbon, forests, and land to the North. We say yes to climate justice, and to climate finance that comes without strings attached.
By Sydney Chisi, Senior Campaign Manager, Equal Right
This piece was originally published by Al Jazeera and is available here.
We have changed our name - welcome to our new-look website based around our new name, 'Equal Right'.
We started life in 2016 as World Basic Income. At the heart of this name was a demand for global justice. We believe that the world's resources need to be redistributed so that the right to a decent life does not stop at rich nation's borders.
Over time our work has expanded, and we now work on a range of topics that all focus on how money and wealth could be redistributed/returned from the 1% to the 99% and from Global North to South. We still believe that Universal Basic Income is a good mechanism for getting that money and wealth to the global grassroots, but other forms of redistribution - such as through public spending on healthcare, education and climate initiatives, or through redistribution to communities - are also great options. The key goal is to achieve redistribution without borders, and we want to work with people around the world to co-create what that could look like and build a broad-based movement to make it happen.
Our new name, Equal Right, was chosen by our members to reflect our belief that people everywhere have an equal right to economic justice, an equal right to a safe climate and an equal right to a decent life. We hope you'll join us in working to make that happen.
A Bone of Contention in Bonn: Fighting Inequality for Climate Justice, an Introduction to Cap and Share
As the one percent of the world once again meet in Bonn for the annual climate ritual of setting the 28th Conference Of Parties (COP28), the 99% remain in their communities without a voice or a seat at the table.
On Saturday 15th October a coalition of more than 200 social justice organisations from across the world joined the G77, China and the Africa Group at the United Nations in demanding a UN tax convention to tackle elite tax avoidance and foster international cooperation on tax matters.
The most obvious solution to the climate emergency is to phase out the extraction of fossil fuels. Our latest podcast episode explores how this can be done in a way that supports climate justice. We welcome as a guest Rahul Basu from The Future We Need. Listen now by searching for Act Global on your usual podcast player or listen on our website here.
Today we are delighted to launch our brand new podcast, Act Global. It's an upbeat economics podcast that explores real workable solutions for global justice. We're aiming to produce one episode per month and include guests from around the world who are working for the change.
You can listen to all episodes on our website here or search for Act Global on your usual podcast player.
Five years ago this month, Paul Harnett and I made French onion soup for 100 people (Paul chopped so many onions he had blisters from the knife). It was served up in the lunch break at our inaugural conference, which was the first in the world to explore the potential of making basic income truly universal.
In the run up to that event we went to a seminar and Paul got talking to one of the speakers. When he said where he came from, she replied, "World basic income - is that even a thing?" Five years on, it's time to consider whether we've made it 'a thing' and what needs to happen to make that 'thing' even bigger.
In the months since our book-writing crowdfunder (thanks a million to everyone who donated!), I've been working hard on the book's central chapter: how a worldwide basic income could be funded.
We've researched this before and found a raft of potential money sources. Our model is based on the global commons: the idea that there are spaces and systems in the world that we all own together (or at least we should own them).
Back in the summer I asked Malawian economist Frank Kamanga, our long-term supporter and member of our International Advisory Board, why he supports universal basic income.
“I was motivated to join the global UBI movement because of the inequality that I observed in the world, especially between the Northern and the Southern hemispheres,” he explained. “It’s a radical approach to do away with poverty at the global scale.”
Fast forward three months, and Frank, his colleague Joseph Fatch and me (Laura Bannister, Campaign Director at World Basic Income) are pinging over-excited texts back and forth. We can’t quite believe our luck.