The UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) in Dubai was a pivotal moment for strategic decisions to address the catastrophic consequences of climate change. Held from 30th November to December 12, 2023, the COP saw the conclusion of the inaugural global stocktake – a comprehensive assessment of the world’s progress on climate action and what more countries must do to realize their climate aspirations and targets. The first day of the COP also saw Parties finally operationalize the Loss and Damage fund with pledges amounting to $700 million.
With a strong determination to represent frontline communities and indigenous voices in conversations that determine their fate, CAPPA marked its presence with a series of activities before and during the conference. Leading up to COP28, CAPPA organized a national climate summit attended by civil society organizations, academia, policymakers, and community representatives among others. The meeting deliberated on strategic approaches to realize sustainable climate finance for Nigeria. Recommendations from the summit also sought to influence the Nigerian agenda for COP28.
CAPPA also convened an African regional dialogue on the critical issue of the loss and damage (L&D) fund ahead of the COP. At the meeting held on November 9, 2023, fifty-three participants and climate activists, including members of the Make Big Polluters Pay (MBPP) campaign from various African countries such as Ghana, The Gambia, Cameroon, Togo, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, discussed the loss and damage fund.
The campaigners called for the speedy operationalization of the fund and opposed the warehousing of the fund at the World Bank. They also criticized attempts by big emitters to frame the fund as charity rather than reparations and planned for joint actions at the UN conference to emphasize their position.
Our pre-COP28 activities also rallied climate justice CSOs in Africa to articulate a joint position paper on the L&D fund even as we conducted an Afro-COP media training on November 22, 2023. The workshop empowered over 20 journalists drawn from various African countries with requisite knowledge and insights to effectively report climate issues in ways that entrench African perspectives within global climate conversations.
Documentary ‘‘Africa’s Cooked & Sinking Cities’’ Screened at COP28
Determined to amplify the plights of vulnerable communities at the conference, we screened our documentary on the impact of climate change in frontline communities of Kenya, Nigeria, and Cameroon at multiple important and high-level gatherings. At the Development and Climate Days forum organized on the sidelines of the climate summit to discuss issues of climate accountability, finance, and adaptation among other concerns, over 200 stakeholders, including policymakers, negotiators, and grassroots representatives viewed our documentary. The screening fostered further discussions at the forum, with the film’s content catalyzing these conversations.
Additionally, the documentary also featured at the ‘‘Don’t Be a Climate Con Artist’’ event on December 5, 2023. At yet another screening on the conference grounds, at the Civil Society Climate Justice Hub (CSCJ Hub) on December 6, 2023, panel discussions interrogated the issues captured in the documentary and provided a platform for indigenous people and climate campaigners from Small Islands to share their experiences, resonating with the film’s themes and promoting collaborative efforts for climate justice.
2, 456 fossil fuel lobbyists attended the climate conference in Dubai, influencing crucial climate talks by Nigeria and other countries. At a press conference held on December 5, 2023, we joined other members of the Kick Big Polluters Campaign (KBPO) to expose the fossil fuel industry’s presence and call for the UN climate body and governments across the world to resist attempts by big polluters to derail accountability talks.
Leafletting, Engaging Pavilions and African Delegates
Throughout our time in Dubai, we actively utilized our research reports and knowledge materials to engage with COP attendees, pushing for pro-people climate solutions. Our strategy involved distributing perspective documents and pamphlets to African delegates and political leaders, emphasizing the importance of a community-driven approach to climate issues.
We visited pavilions and secretariats of groups like the African Union, African Group of Negotiators, Least Developed Countries, as well as 15 African countries, including Mali, Cameroon, and Liberia, facilitating dialogues on climate accountability. We also disseminated copies of our report on Transnational Corporations and their Destructive Operations in Africa. The report reveals the negative impacts of the extractive activities of transnational corporations on the lives, health, and environment of resource-rich and host communities.
At the COP, we played a crucial role in keeping the public informed about the event’s key proceedings. We engaged in media interviews and provided live updates, offering insightful analyses and fresh perspectives on the daily happenings. Serving as a reliable source for local media who couldn’t attend, our real-time reporting brought essential COP information and viewpoints to local audiences, ensuring they remained connected and well-informed about the ongoing climate discussions and decisions.
Make Big Polluters Pay
We took a stand many times at the COP, upholding our culture of defending the rights of communities to livable environments. We joined forces with our MBPP and KBPO partners to challenge the role of polluting companies in defining healthy solutions for climate change. During actions like the “End Fossil Fuel,” “Just Transition Now,” and “Ceasefire in Gaza,” “International Human Rights Day,’’ CAPPA spoke truth to power and called for global action against the bloodshed in Gaza and for Parties to urgently adopt just and fair decarbonization pathways. In several side meetings wherein we participated, we critiqued the proposals of false solutions like carbon markets as a way out of Africa’s climate finance conundrum and highlighted the need for solutions based on fairness, equity, and justice.
We strongly engaged in a one-on-one interview with the Chairperson of the African Group of Negotiators AGN), Mr. Ephraim Mwepya Shitima at the conference. We shared with him our concerns regarding the World Bank’s role in housing the L&D fund. In response, the AGN Chair acknowledged the issues raised. He noted that while it was encouraging to see over $600 million pledged to the loss and damage fund, it still falls short of the billions required to effectively tackle the wide range of climate challenges.
When questioned about the decision of African State representatives to accept the World Bank as host for the Fund, Mr. Shitima clarified that the representatives were compelled to make a swift decision to ensure the Fund’s readiness by COP28. Despite having reservations about the World Bank’s involvement, he pointed out that certain compromises were necessary.
Mr. Shitima added, ” But what has happened now is that we have put a lot of caveats. The World Bank must meet a lot of conditions that we have put there. First, a board for the Fund that we are going to constitute will be independent and operate independently of the World Bank. The eligibility criteria for selecting countries to receive the fund will not be based on the World Bank. There are a lot of provisions we have put in place the Bank has to meet. Failure to do so would mean us going the other road.’’