Kick the polluters out of the COP (A COP24 Poem)

Kick the polluters out of the COP (A COP24 Poem)

Today what do we say?
Kick the polluters out of the COP

Yesterday the world celebrated 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
In the Niger Delta we have endured 60 years of gross oil pollution, gas flares and human rights abuses
Today the world has 12 years to right the wrongs.
Shell and their cohorts must be held to account
Today what do we say?
Kick the polluters out of the COP

Every oil well has been a crime scene
Every gas furnace has been a crime scene
Pumping tons of carbon into the atmosphere
Causing extreme sicknesses in communities
Cutting life expectancy to a mere 41 years

Today what do we say?
Kick the polluters out of the COP

The oil rigs are nothing but gallows
They’ve hung our heroes
They’ve strung our mothers
They suffocate our waters
They pollute our lands
They choke our babies
We are refugees in our own land

Today what do we say?
Kick the polluters out of the COP

Today oil, gas and coal companies populate the corridors and negotiation halls of COP24
They have the guts to claim to write false solutions into the weak Paris Agreement

To entrench their misdeeds
They are proud to claim they are writing even the PA Rule Book

Today what do we say?
Kick the polluters out of the COP

They block nations from welcoming the IPCC Special Report
With a mere 12 years to avert total climate chaos
Oil and gas companies see 12 years of opportunities to steal and kill

To pollute our environment,
To kill our peoples,
To kill our future
To pile up dollars coated in blood
How wicked can polluters get?

Today what do we say?
Kick the polluters out of the COP

Shameful to have these polluters foul up the COP
Time for real climate solutions:
Keep the oil in the ground
Keep the coal in the hole
Keep it all in the ground
No fracking in our seas and lands

Today what do we say?
Kick the polluters out of the COP

11 December 2018
At COP24
Dedicated to all the environmental defenders whose lives have been cut short by the activities of fossil fuels companies
Note: COP stands for Conference of Parties

Kotawice and Climate Pathways

IMG_0421President Buhari made a subtle Climate justice pitch in Katowice There is cautious optimism that nations may get serious about climate change as the 24th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) opened in Katowice, Poland on 3 December 2018. The optimism is slim because the conference would essentially draw up the rule book for the implementation of the Paris Agreement of 2015. That agreement has been globally hailed as the singular effort of nations to jointly tackle global warming, ensuring that average global temperature rise is kept to 1.5 degrees Celsius or well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The anchor on which action to tackle global warming hangs in the Paris Agreement, is what is called the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to emissions reduction. The key phrase here is Nationally Determined. This means that each nation must decide or determine what is convenient or feasible for them to do in terms of cutting emission of greenhouse gases known to cause global warming.

While the world celebrated the Paris Agreement, climate justice campaigners warned that there was nothing substantial on which to hang the celebratory banners. It was clear that powerful nations, who also happen to be the most polluting nations, would not cut emissions at source in ways that will halt the rising temperature dial. With pledges made and computed, the world is faced with the stark scenario of temperature rise in the range between 2.7 degrees and 3.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Such a temperature rise will simply roast the planet, kicking in cataclysmic climate events and making life impossible for humans and other beings in most parts of the world.

In addition, the pledges made by many countries are conditional on having certain supports by way of finance and technologies. Nigeria pledged to cut emissions unconditionally by 20 percent and conditionally by 45 percent with support from international partners. The country also planned to work towards ending gas flaring by 2030 and towards providing off-grid solar power of 13,000 Mega Watts. While making those pledges, it is expected that within the 2015-2030 implementation period, the national economic and social development would grow at the rate of 5 percent per year. It is well known that the economic fortunes of the nation are not anywhere near that level, by any measure.

As the curtains opened in Katowice on Monday, 03 December 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari was one of the heads of governments that took the podium in the high-level sessions. One highlight of President Buhari’s speech was his emphasis that in taking climate action the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) must constantly apply. This was the hammer on the head of the climate nail because without adherence to this principle the justice basis of climate responsibility is forever lost. The CBDR principle was one of the strong anchors in the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. That protocol differentiated rich, industrialised polluting countries from poor, vulnerable and non-polluting nations. They were grouped under Annex I and Non-Annex I countries respectively.

The protocol provided a legally binding framework by which nations were supposed to be assigned scientifically determined emissions reduction targets. By that means, it was hoped that the effectiveness of emissions reduction would be known in advance if parties agreed to adhere to their assigned targets. The level of ambition of 37 industrialised countries and the European community in the first commitment period (2008-2012) of the Kyoto Protocol was a mere 5 percent against 1990 levels.

A second commitment period (2013-2020) was agreed in 2012 as the Doha Amendment. President Buhari announced during his speech that Nigeria was set to ratify the Doha Amendment. This agreement more or less provides life support for the Kyoto Protocol, especially after the emergence of the Copenhagen Accord (2009) and the Paris Agreement (2015) both of which are anchored on voluntary emissions reduction, with scant attention to the requirements of science.

The recently released special report of the Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) warns of the dire situation facing a world that has already crossed the 1-degree Celsius temperature increase above pre-industrial level. It gives the world an ominous 12-year window in which to act or descend into an utterly chaotic climatic situation.

While the big polluters are reticent, suggesting that the capacity to pollute is the mark of progress, some non-polluting countries are displaying NDCs that would mean cutting emissions they are not even emitting. These show that voluntary emissions reduction pathway is not the way out.

President Buhari spoke of the harsh situation the 14 million persons depending on the shrinking Lake Chad are facing. He spoke of the plans for an inter-basin water transfer that would see water from the Congo Basin being piped to recharge Lake Chad. The canalisation idea was first developed by an Italian firm, Bonifaca, about four decades ago. While the feasibility studies of that old recharge idea are being worked out, perhaps we can work on examining the ground water management systems in the region with the aim of conserving and protecting what is left to keep the lake alive.

The president’s speech covered many areas, including the need to maintain sound environmental management in economic development. Surprisingly, he said nothing about ending gas flaring. Considering that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is selling the idea that gas flaring would end by 2020 ahead of the 2030 target set by Nigeria’s NDC, and has placed advertisements in papers indicating readiness to pursue that goal. It was disappointing that the president did not utilize that global stage to show how Nigeria is taking leadership in cutting emissions from one of the most obnoxious sources.

As the first week of COP24 draws to a close, the world is waiting to see if the leaders in Katowice will wake up to the fact that the NDCs are not the right way forward. To continue on the path that inexorably leads to intractable climate chaos is another side of the denial coin sold by the political heads of the USA and Brazil.

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This piece was first published on 7 December 2018 as Buhari’s Climate Justice Pitch in Katowice in my Leadership newspaper column,  The Instigator

 

 

 

 

When Dream Die

AvisittoOgale,GoiandBodoRiversstate(129of182)When dreams die, are people left with nothing but fear?  We need to question the inevitability of fear as the outcome of broken or dead dreams.

For this reflection, we will take a ‘dream’ to mean a cherished aspiration or a preferred ideal. It is indeed a strong proposition that when dreams die, they snuff out aspiration and cause ideals to appear unattainable. Dreams are the incubators of vision. They consolidate our hopes, beliefs, convictions and sense of possibility. Dead dreams can kill vision and hope. This applies to individuals as well as nations and even to the entire humanity.

The dream of global peace is being shattered on a daily basis not just by the loss of our sense of community, but also the loss of understanding that ‘community’ goes beyond just the community of people and encompasses the community of all beings. The dream of global peace gets broken by the erection of real and virtual walls between neighbourhoods, communities and nations. Dreams of peace recede with unnecessary sanctions by powerful nations and blatant preparations for war and increased militarism in times of peace. The intensifying arms race sees nations competing over who can build or acquire more state-of-the-art weapons of mass destruction. Dreams can die when creativity gets captured by hate. All these can birth fear and feed despair.

The love of money can trump peace and snuff the life out of dreams. We see humanity shamefully hanging its head in silent acquiescence to the supposition that life can be dispensed with, eliminated without question, provided the murderers stuff our pockets with promises of cash. This can breed fear of a loss of humanity and a descent into barbarism.

Let us consider one particular dream killer – the climate chaos. It is well known that the major source of greenhouse gasses triggering global warming is the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists sent early warnings that the tipping point (the point of no return) could be reached if action was not taken to stop or slow down the stoking of the atmosphere with carbon. National and global agencies warn political leaders that we are running out of time and that real action must be taken urgently. Still we dither.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) starkly states that the world has a mere twelve-year window to act. When some of us became active in the climate justice movement, our struggle was to ensure that nations cut carbon emissions at source in proportion to their levels of responsibility and capabilities. This is a climate debt owed by polluting nations. We insisted that the global temperature must not rise by more than 1 degree Celsius above what it was at the dawn of the Industrial Age. That target has already been reached. Today the official target is 1.5 degrees or well below 2 degrees Celsius. Advised by science, we also campaigned that the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere must not exceed 350 parts per million (ppm). By September 2016, the concentration level had already topped 400 ppm. Dreams die when we are so selfish and so short sighted that we forget that our children have a future ahead of them.

Dreams can die when we know the truth but chose to propagate a lie or vote for the lie. This is what climate deniers do. This is what polluters do. They seem to say that even if the world will burn in the coming decades, they would ensure they scrape the bottom of the barrel of all possible profits. To them, floods, droughts, heatwaves, forest fires, hurricanes, typhoons and the like, mean nothing but opportunities for exploitation, dispossession and accumulation.

Dreams die when trillions of dollars are spent on needless warfare while the climate finance purse literally runs on empty and vulnerable poor nations get battered by climate impacts and Small Island Nations watch their territories go under the sea.

Dreams die when we know that those who cause and benefit from climate harms have disproportionate influence on decisions and climate negotiations. Dreams die when these parties avoid mentioning the known sources and taking a stance on stopping further search for new fossil fuel reserves and deposits. Dreams become nightmares when expensive, ineffective but convenient actions are promoted rather than embarking on real solutions.

Dreams of safety and health die when drainage channels are clogged with plastics and sundry trash — and suddenly it thunders. Dreams die when the trees you lived off are mowed down by illegal loggers or by officials who promise never-to-be-realized infrastructure.

With rising unemployment and underemployment, workers are uncertain of the future of their jobs. Starting wages (or minimum wage) as well as pensions at the end of the job pipe are unpredictable for many, while security votes, possibly used to buy support from military governors during the era of military dictatorship, remain on the budgets.  Corporate dreams die when decisions are forever top down, returns are poor but the wisdom from below is disdained. Same could be the outcome when companies stay stuck in the industrial mode when they should shift into the digital mode.

We can count a thousand ways by which dreams die at individual and corporate levels. The truth is that the death of a dream is not the end of the road. When dreams die, fear does not have to inevitably kick in. When dreams die, we can dream again. We can indeed have better, bigger and higher dreams. It is a choice we can make. Even if you have had the most excellent dream, waking up and taking action is always the best next step. We always have a choice to wake up from a nightmare or to dream again. This is why the end of the year offers individuals and corporations opportunities to review the ebbing year and strategize for the coming ones. This is why nations hold elections at regular cycles and offer citizens the opportunities to see if their governors are leading them on dream paths or into nightmares. This is why we must survey the global terrain and see in which direction the multilateral spaces are tilting and decide if we must stay in those paths, accept palliatives or forge new dreams.

Dreams die when we can identify the dream killers and the purveyors of fear but chose to say nothing and prefer to do nothing.

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First published at https://leadership.ng/2018/11/30/when-dreams-die/