Frontline Voices Challenge False Solutions at COP27

Frontline Voices Challenge False Solutions at COP27
Nov. 11, 2022—”Just Transitions Strategies from the Frontlines,” at panel held at COP27 and featuring  (left) Norman Rogers, United Steelworkers Local 675; Paula Muñoz, Florida Immigrant Coalition and Central Florida Jobs with Justice; José Bravo, Just Transition Alliance; Robin Williams, NAACP Labor Committee; Kali Akuno, Cooperation Jackson; and Ananda Lee Tan, Just Transition Alliance. Credit: Chris Furino, Central Florida Jobs with Justice.

Workers & Communities Attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—COP27—to Confront Duplicitous Commitments by Politicians and Endless Promotion of Corporate Schemes

Numerous panels, actions, press scrums and meetings shaped the experience of this year’s Workers and Communities delegation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC) 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27). This was the second year the Just Transition Alliance (JTA) and Central Florida Jobs with Justice (CFJWJ)came together to bring the voices of frontline workers and fenceline communities to the “Conference of the Profiteers,” with the goal of forcing world leaders to abandon corporate schemes such as “net zero emissions” and to embrace just transition strategies that address the needs and priorities of workers and communities hit hardest by climate change. The conference took place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from Nov. 6-18, 2022.

The Workers & Communities delegation consisted of rank-and-file leaders from a variety of backgrounds with one thing in common–they come from Indigenous, Black, Brown, migrant and poor white communities that are some of the first and worst impacted by the storms, floods, fires, droughts, pollution and pandemic associated with this ecological crisis. Specifically, it included leaders of the Just Transition Alliance–José Bravo, executive director and Ananda Lee Tan, strategy advisor; Edgar Franks, political director of Familias Unidas por la Justicia; Norman Rogers, second vice president of United Steelworkers Local 675; Chris Furino, membership and lead organizer for Central Florida Jobs with Justice; and Paula Muñoz, director of campaign organizing for Florida Immigrant Coalition who also represented Central Florida Jobs with Justice at COP27.

With COP27 negotiations focusing on corporate schemes under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement–such as carbon trading, carbon capture and storage, and forest carbon offsets–a broad array of social movements rallied civil society forces to point out that such unproven measures will not only continue to harm the most vulnerable communities and workers, but also divert trillions of public dollars away from real solutions that tackle the root  drivers of climate change: corporate greed and the fossil fuel industry. The delegation worked alongside the rest of the It Takes Roots coalition–Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Climate Action, Indigenous Environmental Network, La Via Campesina and the Movement for Black Lives, and we centered our activities around a booth we secured for the duration of the conference

While the corporate trade show felt like “business as usual” by the politicians and polluter profiteers who lead the decision-making around so-called climate solutions at the conference, the Just Transition Alliance continued to pressure members of the U.S. political delegation “to make bold commitments to support climate reparations for people most harmed by the climate crisis, and to abandon its historic support for pollution trading schemes and corporate techno-fixes. However, following speeches by President Biden and U.S. Special Envoy on Climate John Kerry, JTA delegates were disgusted by the glaring double-speak of their messages,” we said in a Nov. 15, 2022 media release.

“While Kerry announced another pollution trading scam, it wasn’t hard to read between the lines of Biden’s clean energy rhetoric, and hear him name all the bogus techno-fixes that such a trading scheme would serve to peddle around the world,” said Edgar Franks, political director of farmworkers union Familias Unidas por la Justicia. “Between scams like carbon capture and storage, to greenwash like nature-based solutions, it clearly sounded like business as usual,” he added.

“COP27 has confirmed our previous assessment that the world’s biggest bankers and their dirty energy cronies continue to steer the negotiations here at the UNFCCC,” José Bravo said. “It’s become quite clear that if we were to simply leave it up to this U.N. Assembly, then the ‘highway to climate hell’ would be paved with more net zero scams,” he added, referring to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres’ recent warnings.

Activities for the It Takes Roots delegation included the Nov. 10, 2022 panel “Climate Justice vs. False Solutions,” which featured Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network; Osawa Bineshi Albert, Climate Justice Alliance; José Bravo, Just Transition Alliance; Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation; Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Indigenous Climate Action; and Carissa Marnce, GAIA Africa; and culminated with a “no false solutions” action, “Our sky, water, soil and forests are not for sale!” 

All of the Workers & Communities panels can be viewed here. You can read additional highlights from COP27 here.