Our function is not to educate, but to achieve spaces of freedom and citizen agency to govern ourselves in a real way. For this we point out the systemic inequalities and show examples of community resilience.
The climate crisis is a systemic problem: the capitalist system is a toxic system that, although on the one hand it has allowed us to enjoy great advances in many fields, it is devouring itself, humanity and the rest of the world. We must also bear in mind that those of us who have enjoyed certain advances are a small part of the world's population. In general, Africa, Latin America, large areas of North America, Asia (including Asian Russia) and some populations of Australia have been and are the larder that allows to maintain the comfort of Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan and some other populations. And, even within these favored geographic areas, different sectors of the population live in very different conditions.
We can change the term comfort to privilege, and pantry to extractivism and oppression. This is where the ecosocial and climate crisis is sustained.
From November 30 to December 12, COP28 is held in Dubai, one of the main oil producers in the world. The twenty-eighth edition takes place in the year when all the heat records around the world have been broken. Greenhouse gases are mainly responsible for the global increase in temperatures. But we face many other related problems: extractivism linked to both obtaining fossil fuels and materials for electronic devices (among others), the threat of industrial mining, the loss of biodiversity and pollution by microplastics, among others.
COP meetings have failed or been insufficient since their first edition in 1995. Our political representatives have led us to an alarming situation. Scientific studies show that keeping the average global increase in temperatures below 1.5 degrees is no longer feasible and that we will exceed this threshold in the coming years. However, every tenth of a degree that does not increase saves us death and suffering.
In early 2023, Al-Jaber, director of Dubai's main oil company (Adnoc), was appointed president of COP28. In June, the news broke in the press that Adnoc had had access to the emails of the COP preparation office and had even given instructions on how to respond to journalists. Shortly thereafter, the COP preparation office changed servers.
Already before the start of the COP, Al-Jaber made statements that, far from pointing towards the reduction of dependence on fossil fuels, he announced that producing countries were responsible for capturing emissions with still emerging technologies and the implementation of which require the extraction of a large amount of minerals and materials (more mines, which pollute thousands of liters of water, impoverish the living conditions of large masses of the population and threaten biodiversity) that are difficult or impossible to recycle.
In May, Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and a person with a prominent role in the drafting of the Paris Agreement, warned of the dangers of the approach that Dubai was taking giving to the COP and the threat it posed to the survival of the most vulnerable countries.d pollution by microplastics, among others.
Al-Jaber himself stated that there is no scientific evidence to justify the need to reduce fossil energy consumption. Scientific studies disprove it. Climate physicist Jean-Pascal van Ypersele and scientist Michael E. Mann highlight the need to phase out fossil fuels.
We are not in a position to ignore the scientific evidence. Nature does not negotiate.
In addition, Al-Jaber's claims collide head-on with the statements of UN Secretary-General, António Guterres: "The science is clear: the 1.5 degree limit is only possible if we stop burning fossil fuels. No reduce them, but eliminate them completely and with a clear plan". Guterres also highlights the inconsistency of this summit saying that "we cannot save a burning planet with a hose of fossil fuels". The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, denounced in the proceedings of the COP that the "barbarism and genocide" that is being committed against the Palestinian people is an example of what awaits the countries of the Global South in the face of the climate crisis. We remember that in recent weeks the international press has already recognized that the genocide in Gaza is motivated by the exploitation of new fossil energy deposits.
It took more than two decades for the expression 'fossil fuels' to appear in the conclusions of a COP. In this edition it is not clear that an agreement will be reached for the progressive elimination of them. Nor is it possible to allocate the necessary funds for the countries most affected by the climate crisis. On the other hand, there is no problem in increasing or doubling armaments spending.
The pressure of the oil and economic lobbies and the need for consensus among all countries cause the agreements to be absolutely insufficient and not aligned with what science demands. Faced with all this, last Saturday 2 December, we demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the European Union in Barcelona to protest against political inaction. The following Saturday, the 9th, Scientific Rebellion was held at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Valencia for the same reasons.
In this framework, individual actions are very important, but also insufficient. From the international movement Rebl·lió o Extinsió (Extinction Rebellion, XR) we renounce blaming and shaming individual people, understanding that this is counterproductive. Real change has to be systemic, and so governments and big business also need to challenge themselves to be part of it. The real fight lies in the collective, the only space for victory.
Our function is not to educate, but to achieve spaces of freedom and citizen agency to govern ourselves in a real way. For this we point out the systemic inequalities and show examples of community resilience. We don't want less water for basic uses, we want less water to irrigate golf courses and ski slopes. And this type of approach, applied to all needs and economic sectors.
XR holds four basic demands: social justice, telling the truth, acting now and deciding together. This last demand must be articulated through binding citizen assemblies. We are tired of empty rhetoric. We believe that society, based on expert training and deliberation, is capable of deciding its own future.
It's time for citizenship, it's time for people's democracy. We demand concrete and urgent actions. We demand a binding Citizens' Assembly for the Climate.