By Chris Lang
Oilwatch was formed in February 1996 in Quito, Ecuador. It is a network of organisations with members in more than fifty countries around the world. Oilwatch aims to stop the expansion of fossil fuel operations and works with local communities affected by oil, gas, and coal activities.
Last week saw the first Oilwatch International Global Gathering in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, with the theme “Demanding Real Zero, Not Net Zero”. The participants in the Global Gathering put out the following Declaration:
Demanding Real Zero Not Net Zero
Declaration from Oilwatch International Global Gathering
Oilwatch International network members, community representatives from oil regions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), the academia and the media met in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State, Nigeria, between 19th – 21st of October 2021, physically and virtually, for the maiden edition of the Oilwatch International Global Gathering.
The gathering, which had the theme Demanding Real Zero, Not Net Zero aimed to present the way out of the climate quagmire and present real options for climate action. The Global Gathering looked critically at the false solutions to Climate Change including the Net Zero concept which world leaders, corporations and investors are echoing as the world gets ready for COP26.
Participants deliberated on the failure of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of Parties (COP) which over the years has become an avenue for trade talks, commercial pledges, and avoidance of real action irrespective of the glaring unfolding climate catastrophe. At a time when the world is experiencing extreme weather events including droughts, wildfires, cyclones, hurricanes and floods, leaders are getting sucked into false solutions that lock in dependence on fossil fuels with the promises of techno-fixes for carbon removals, solar radiation management and/or carbon offsets.
The implications of fossil fuels exploitation on human rights and on primary economies including agriculture, fisheries, and livelihoods of community folks were also discussed.
Participants observed the following:
- Big polluters, the perpetrators of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally have continued to wield untoward influence on the climate negotiations as evidenced in the new mantra of Net Zero, a suite of algorithms and technologies, an updated version of the myth of carbon offsetting, which now seems still to be leading the discussions, rather than real climate actions, now under the Paris Agreement.
- Net Zero and other false solutions allow polluters to continue polluting and lock in extractive and other obnoxious activities that empower the fossil fuels industry.
- Net Zero erases the very essence of history and the responsibilities to cut down emissions.
- Countries and territories in the Global South that have not contributed significantly to the problem are disproportionately impacted by climate change.
- The fossil fuel industry and their allied political leaders are seeking ways to expand destructive fossil extraction in places such as the Okavango Basin in Namibia and Botswana, Saloum Delta in Senegal and Delgado in Mozambique while continuing their polluting activities in the Niger Delta, the Amazon, and other places.
Flowing from intense debates and discussions, participants at the Global Gathering declared as follows:
- There must be a halt to the propagation of false narratives such as Net Zero Emissions at a time the world requires Real Zero Emissions as the way out of calamitous climate change.
- COP26 in Glasgow UK, should not be an arena for deliberations on false notions such as Nature Based Solutions, Net Zero, Carbon neutrality, carbon offsetting but rather real actions including keeping fossil fuel resources in the ground.
- The use of Nature Based Solutions should not be an excuse for land and sea grabbing and displacement of indigenous communities.
- All governments need to urgently go back to a binding global emissions reduction rather than the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which according to the UN computations of submissions made so far will lead the world to a calamitous temperature increase of up to 2.7°C above pre industrial levels.
- There should be no new coal, oil, or gas extraction expansion plans in line with the best available science as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Environment Program.
- Phase-out of existing extraction of fossil fuels in a manner that is fair and equitable, considering the respective dependency of countries on fossil fuels and the importance of transitioning workers in the fossil fuels industry to more social, environment and climate friendly sectors.
- Need for Parties attending COP26 to reintroduce the distinction between the Kyoto Protocol Annex 1 Countries and consider the creation of the Annex 0 countries and consider payment of ecological debts to communities that have been sacrificed over the years while fossil fuel corporations rake in blood profits.
- Ensure a global just transition to 100% access to renewable energy, with no corporate and no extensive base, that contribute to energy sovereignty, support for dependent economies to diversify away from fossil fuels, and enable all people and communities, especially in the Global South, to flourish.
- Communities should play major roles and be heard in negotiations at the COP as they are at the forefront of the climate disasters occurring globally.
- Oil impacted communities that suffer impacts like the Niger Delta, or Ecuadorian Amazon, must be properly cleaned up. Oil companies should be held accountable and not continue in impunity.
- Fossil fuel and other extractive companies and their enabling governments linked to human rights abuses must be held accountable, compelled to divest, and obligated to justly compensate environmental defenders, climate activists, and communities they have victimized.
- An immediate release of the arrested staff of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) — Oilwatch Africa members in Uganda– and a halt to further harassment of earth defenders across the world.
The declaration is endorsed by:
1. Oilwatch International
2. Oilwatch Africa
3. Oilwatch Latin America
4. Oilwatch South East Asia
5. Health of Mother Earth Foundation(HOMEF), Nigeria
6. World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay
7. Accion Ecologica, Ecuador
8. Oil Change International, Africa
9. Indigenous Environmental Network
10. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Philippines
11. Friends of Lake Turkana, Kenya
12. Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
13. Federation of Organizations for Social and Educational Assistance (FASE)
14. Centre for Environmental Justice, Togo
15. Friends of the Earth Togo
16. Peace Point Development Foundation, Nigeria
17. Policy Alert, Nigeria
18. We The People, Nigeria
19. Kabetkache Women Resource Development Centre, Nigeria
20. People Advancement Centre, Nigeria
21. Lekeh Development Foundation, Nigeria
22. SWAYA, Nigeria
23. YEAC, Nigeria
24. Centre de Recherche et d’actions sur les Droits Économique et Sociaux Culturels (CRADESC), Senegal
25. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, South Africa
26. FishNet Alliance
27. No REDD in Africa Network
28. Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Nigeria
29. Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI), Nigeria
30. Rainbow-Watch Development center, Nigeria