Ugandan climate justice activist Vanessa Nakate denounced world leaders Tuesday for continuing to support new coal, oil, and gas projects despite overwhelming evidence that extracting and burning more fossil fuels will exacerbate deadly climate chaos.
"You are sowing the wind and frontline communities are reaping the whirlwind."
"The focus for many leaders is about making deals for fossil fuel lobbyists, surviving the next election cycle, and grabbing as much short-term profit as possible," Nakate said at an event on the sidelines of the United Nations COP27 climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Alluding to the presence of more than 630 fossil fuel lobbyists at the meeting, which is being held in a heavily policed and expensive resort city, Nakate said that oil and gas representatives are turning COP27 into "a sales and marketing conference for more pollution and more destruction and more devastation."
Nakate cited the International Energy Agency's 2021 blueprint for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, which made clear that investment in new fossil fuel projects is incompatible with meeting the Paris agreement's goal of capping temperature rise at 1.5°C above preindustrial levels—beyond which impacts will grow progressively worse for millions of people, particularly those living in impoverished countries who have done the least to cause the crisis.
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—the three main heat-trapping gases fueling global warming—hit an all-time high last year, and greenhouse gas pollution has only continued to climb this year.
Meanwhile, public subsidies supporting the production and consumption of coal, oil, and gas nearly doubled in 2021, and hundreds of corporations are planning to expand dirty energy production in the coming years, including several proposed drilling projects and pipelines in Africa.
"You are sowing the wind and frontline communities are reaping the whirlwind," said Nakate. "You are sowing seeds of coal, oil, and gas while frontline communities are reaping havoc, devastation, and destruction."
"My worry," Nakate told Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman on Tuesday, "is that the environment and biodiversity is going to be destroyed. We are going to find ourselves in an accelerated climate crisis, and profits are going to end up in pockets of already-rich people."
The U.N. recently warned that as a result of profoundly inadequate emissions reductions targets and policies, there is "no credible path to 1.5°C in place," and only "urgent system-wide transformation" can prevent the calamities that would transpire in a world projected to be nearly 3°C hotter by century's end.
In her conversation with Goodman, Nakate detailed how the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency is intensifying suffering in the Global South, including by reducing access to clean water and food and increasing disease transmission and displacement.
Among the key demands of climate justice advocates is that the rich nations most responsible for causing the crisis do more to slash their emissions and provide poor countries with the financial resources needed to complete a swift and just clean energy transition and respond to current and future bouts of extreme weather.
A recent U.N.-backed report estimates that developing countries will need a combined total of $2.4 trillion per year by 2030 to combat planetary heating, including funding for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage.
However, wealthy countries have so far failed to mobilize the $100 billion in annual climate aid they promised would be delivered each year by 2020. The U.S. is most responsible for the shortfall, providing a mere 19% of the country's roughly $40 billion "fair share," or what it should be paying based on its cumulative contribution to global greenhouse gas pollution.
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community and was authored by Kenny Stancil.