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‘COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world’

By David Hill and Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, November 30, 2023

British journalist DAVID HILL interviewed Jeremy Brecher in the lead-up to COP28 about why international climate negotiations fail and how a “global nonviolent constitutional insurgency” could be a climate game-changer.

DH: Last year when we were in touch you said you thought COP27 “should be the most important meeting in the history of the world – nothing could be more important than international agreement to meet the climate targets laid out by climate science and agreed to by the world’s governments at the Paris Climate Summit.” Do you feel the same about COP28?

JB: Of course, COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world. That was also true of COP27, COP26 and all the previous COP climate meetings. While they should be producing international agreement to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero, the reality is that the decades of international climate conferences have simply legitimated ever rising GHG emissions and ever increasing climate destruction. The idea that it is being hosted by Dubai and chaired by Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the head of the United Arab Emirates’s state-owned oil company, represents the height of absurdity – like putting Al Capone in charge of alcohol regulation. Sultan al-Jaber’s letter laying out plans for COP 28 is lacking in ambition to reduce climate destruction. The entire so-called international climate protection process is now controlled by those who hope to gain by climate destruction. A global nonviolent insurgency against the domination of the fossil fuel industry and the governments it controls appears to be the only practical means to counter their plan to destroy humanity.

DH: In other words, COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world, but it’s not going to be. What do you think is the percentage chance of an international agreement to phase out fossil fuels being reached?

JB: The answer to this one is easy: there is zero chance that COP28 will produce an agreement that will actually phase out fossil fuels. The forces that are in control of the governments represented in COP28 represent fossil fuel interests that are intent on continuing and if possible expanding their use. US President Eisenhower once said that the people wanted peace so much that some day the governments would have to get out of their way and let them have it. An international agreement that will actually phase out fossil fuels will come when governments discover that if they want to go on governing they have to let the people have climate safety.

COP28: Progress for a just transition but big gaps remain

By staff - International Trade Union Confederation, December 14, 2023

The ITUC welcomes the inclusion of references to labour rights and social protection in the Just Transition Work Programme adopted at the COP28 climate talks and recognition of the continuing work undertaken by trade unions around the world to tackle climate change.

Nevertheless, the absence of any reference to workers and their unions in the key COP28 “Global Stocktake”, which tracks progress in countries around the world, is a significant omission and indicates the scale of the work required to ensure its inclusion in the coming years.

Worrying gaps remain in the global ambition to keep the world temperature rise under 1.5C, and the lack of an overall commitment to fully engage with trade unions in transitioning away from fossil fuels and in other vital areas of climate action will hinder progress, as it risks leaving workers and their communities behind.

While the formation of the Loss and Damage Fund is a positive step, efforts must be made to ensure it is financed adequately to support less wealthy countries to invest in mitigation projects that will reduce the impacts of global warming and undo the damage already being done to lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and the biosphere.

ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “We are resolute in our commitment to continue and increase our action for a just transition to a sustainable future for humanity and the ecosystem.

“Some progress has been made at this COP, however, much more needs to be done. The fact that certain countries continue to block any reference to unions in the Global Stocktake and elsewhere reflects poorly on those countries and, more importantly, will hold back progress.

“Government climate negotiators have recognised that explicit reference to labour rights, decent work, quality jobs and social protection is necessary. However, sufficient financing must be delivered coherently and the ILO Just Transition Guidelines, agreed by tripartite discussions between union, government and employer representatives, need to be put into practice.”

Vale at COP28: Where Is the Accountability?

By Jan Morril and Brytnee Laurette - Earthworks, December 11, 2023

January 25, 2024, will mark the fifth anniversary of the catastrophic tailings dam failure at Vale’s mine in Brumadinho, Brazil, where 272 people, including two pregnant women, died. Vale, who knew about the dam’s stability concerns, failed to protect its workers and residents in nearby downstream communities. Today, company representatives are facing homicide charges for their role in the tragedy.

As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP) winds down in Dubai, several of the world’s biggest mining companies, like Vale and Rio Tinto, have attempted to influence climate conversations over the last two weeks with representatives of governments, negotiators, businesses, and civil society groups. 

Meanwhile, communities, NGOs, and trade unions–who have seen firsthand the abuses of these companies–continue to bring attention to the need for higher standards on human rights and responsible solutions to mining’s environmental risks, such as mining waste. They also call for stricter adherence to the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Despite many promises to the contrary, mining corporations continue to ignore these demands.

In the years since, Vale has invested in improving its image in Brazil and abroad. “Our commitment is to prioritize people, repair, and guarantee a safe operation,” Vale states in its promotional materials. However, people living near Vale’s mines continue to experience human rights violations, environmental degradation, and trauma. Vale’s actions reveal that it still does not prioritize people. Instead, it remains focused on its bottom line and saving its reputation. 

VIIIth International Conference, La Via Campesina: Bogotá Declaration

By staff - La Via Campesina, December 9, 2023

More than 400 delegates of La Via Campesina, representing 185 organizations and movements in 83 countries, together with allies, are gathered in Bogotá, Colombia to celebrate our 8th International Conference from the 1st to the 8th of December of 2023.

We, the peasants, rural workers, landless, indigenous peoples, pastoralists, artisanal fisherfolk, forest dwellers, rural women, youth and diversities and other peoples who work in the countryside around the world and united within La Via Campesina, declare that “Faced with global crises, we build food sovereignty to ensure a future for humanity!” towards a just and decent food system for all, recognizing peoples’ needs, respecting nature, putting people before profit and resisting corporate capture.

The 8th Conference is happening at a time when the Colombian social movements are celebrating a major political victory, the creation of an agrarian jurisdiction, and the constitutional recognition of peasants as political subjects with rights. Our participation in the monitoring and follow-up of the peace agreement in Colombia inspires us as peasants to continue building peace worldwide.

Harvesting Disparity: Climate Change, Food and Water Security, and Migrants of the UAE

By staff - Fair Square, December 9, 2023

The image of climate-friendly menus being pushed at this year’s global climate conference, COP28 in Dubai, UAE, clashes with the stark reality faced by vulnerable communities in the host country, and its impact on the environment, a new report released today unveils.

The official COP28 website proclaims that, “Our focus is to deliver sustainable, affordable, delicious, and nutritious food. COP28 UAE will deliver a catering menu which is largely plant based, emphasizing local and regional produce and promoting environmentally-friendly food consumption.” The site also describes how the COP28 Presidency is “striving to show the world how climate-friendly food can be tasty, healthy and affordable.”

However the team of investigators behind the report – who are based in the Gulf and remaining anonymous to protect their safety – found that outside the venue, the reality for many workers in the UAE was in stark contrast to “environmentally-friendly food consumption”.

The 40-page report, Harvesting Disparity: Climate Change, Food and Water Security, and Migrants of the UAE, explores pronounced disparities in access to quality, nutritious food for migrant workers who grapple with working hours and wage theft that hinder their ability to secure proper meals, while also examining the broader impacts of UAE food supply chain practices on climate and vulnerable communities abroad.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

COP28: what is at stake?

By Alan Thornett - Ecosocialist Discussion, November 29, 2023

COP28 (along with planet Earth itself) is faced with “an absolutely gobsmackingly bananas increase in the global temperature”

COP28 – the annual UN global summit on global warming – is taking place from November 30th until December 12 – under the auspices of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that was launched in 1992 to protect the planet against “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”, which now takes place annually. It is the 28th UN climate change summit since 1992, and will take place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

COP28, along with other recent such summits faces a deadly, and indeed existential, contradiction between the relentless acceleration of global warming ­ i.e. of the average global surface temperature of the planet – and the inability of the COP process to bring it under control, or even hold it to a maximum increase of 1.5°C in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

It became clear in August that 2023 would be of a different order of magnitude in terms of temperature when July turned out to be the world’s hottest month ever recorded.

The UN Secretary General António Guterres – the most radicle the UN has had on climate change – responded rightly by declaring that this meant that “the era of global warming had ended, and the era of global boiling has arrived”. It meant, he said, that: “Climate change is here, it is terrifying, and it is just the beginning. It is still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C (above pre-industrial levels), and avoid the very worst of climate change, he said, but only with dramatic, immediate climate action.”

The September figure, however, was a whole lot worse. It was a staggering 0.5°C above the previous such record. The Guardian’s environmental editor Damian Carrington quoted climate scientist Zeke Hausfather who had tweeted that: “This month was, in my professional opinion as a climate scientist – absolutely gobsmackingly bananas. It beat the prior monthly temperature record by over 0.5°C, and was around 1.8°C warmer than preindustrial levels.” He noted that datasets from European and Japanese scientists confirmed the leap.

It’s worth noting that the difference in the average global temperature between now and the depths of the last ice age when these islands were under a kilometre of ice is around 5.0°C.

In mid-November Guterres went further warning that. “Present trends are racing our planet down a dead-end 3C temperature rise. This is a failure of leadership, a betrayal of the vulnerable, and a massive missed opportunity. Renewables have never been cheaper or more accessible. We know it is still possible to make the 1.5 degree limit a reality. It requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels.”

He added: “Leaders must drastically up their game, now, with record ambition, record action, and record emissions reductions. No more greenwashing. No more foot-dragging.”

COP28: Trade unions call for a labour-inclusive Just Transition

By staff - International Trade Union Confederation, November 27, 2023

Beginning 30 November until 12 December, the COP28 will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The key ITUC priority for working people at the conference, available here, is the adoption of a Just Transition Work Programme that ensures labour issues are central to climate policy discussions by:

  • Upholding human and labour rights while fostering inclusive participation in climate policy formulation.
  • Enhancing mitigation ambitions to create quality jobs, backed by just transition measures.
  • Delivering on adaptation needs through robust social protection plans and funding mechanisms.
  • Providing the finance for the Loss and Damage facility and for investment in just transition.

ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle emphasised the urgency of the situation: “This year’s extreme weather events have caused widespread disruption, impacting workers globally. It is imperative that COP28 delivers on its promises. We need climate policies that put people and labour rights at the forefront to ensure a transition that is both equitable and effective.

“It is global economic failures that have amplified the disproportionate effects of climate change on working people, including extreme working conditions, threats to livelihoods and forced migration due to environmental disruption.

“That is why we demand a New Social Contract to create a fairer global economy, that focuses on the interests of working people to begin to tackle fundamental inequalities.”

Power Up for Climate Justice: a landmark report on financing a global renewable energy target

By staff - 350, November 22, 2023

With just days to go until Cop28, we are launching a landmark report to highlight the need for massive investment in renewable energy sources rooted in justice. “Power Up for Climate Justice: Financing and Implementing a Global Renewables Target” makes it clear: an agreement to triple renewable energy capacity to over 11,000 gigawatts by 2030 is poised to take center stage at COP28.

But such a target will only deliver for climate justice if it is accompanied by a robust energy package that includes finance for the Global South and financial system reform. 

It is also imperative that a target be accompanied by a binding commitment in the COP28 final text to phase out fossil fuels by 2050. Both the scaling up of renewable energy capacity and the phase out of fossil fuels must be anchored with concrete processes and resources for their implementation.

Earlier this year, G20 leaders acknowledged that a yearly investment of $4 trillion by 2030 is required to finance the global energy transition. But across the Global South outside of China, we are confronted with a stark reality: investment in renewable energy has remained more or less flat since the Paris Agreement.

COP28 must underpin the tripling of renewables with tangible political commitments and processes to unlock finance: debt cancellation at scale, $100 billion in concessional finance, and $200 billion in grants yearly.

The good news is, this is all possible.’s Power Up for Climate Justice report presents a roadmap for unlocking the finance to make a global renewable energy target at COP28 a significant milestone for the climate. 

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

La Via Campesina Boycotts COP28 in Solidarity with Palestine, Demanding Ceasefire Now! No Climate Justice without Human Rights!

By staff - La Via Campesina, November 20, 2023


(Bagnolet, November 20, 2023) In response to the unprecedented and genocidal war being waged on the people of Palestine, the international peasant movement that is La Via Campesina joins the growing call to boycott COP28. In solidarity with the peasants, fisherfolk and working families of Occupied Palestine, we stand united in our global demand that all people and governments act now to end Israel’s genocidal war on Palestinians, both in Gaza and the West Bank. A ceasefire is urgent – now!

While the Israeli government continues its war crimes in Gaza – bombing homes, hospitals, mosques and churches, massacring innocent civilians (including over 4,000 children) and leaving tens of thousands maimed, injured and traumatized – armed settlers backed by Occupation forces are waging their own war across the West Bank. As a Movement that struggles for the full realization of all rights for all peoples, we of La Vía Campesina cannot in good conscience participate in the UNFCCC climate negotiations while a textbook case of genocide is being waged on members of our community, their rights and sovereignty completely denied. There is no climate justice without human rights!

As we bear witness to this violence, we are especially concerned about the greenwashing of colonization and apartheid at this year’s COP28 in Dubai. Israel’s participation obscures the ongoing genocide and redirects global attention from the crimes it commits. The hypocrisy and abuse of many imperialist and polluting governments at COP28 is further revealed by the host government for the climate talks, the UAE, a major oil producer and human rights violator, and the COP Presidency – a billionaire oil executive! The corruption of the UNFCCC must end!

Our decision to boycott COP28 is also our ratification of a deep commitment to and solidarity with a global climate justice movement rooted in popular struggles for human rights and restored relations with Mother Earth. Towards this year’s COP, we dedicate our collective voice to demand an inmediate cease fire now! Palestinian rights are human rights!

Unjust Transitions: Climate Migration, Heat Stress, and Labour Exploitation in the United Arab Emirates

By staff - Equidem, November 20, 2023

Workers at the heart of the United Arab Emirates's renewable and gig sectors, and at the site that will host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) have left homes in Africa and Asia because of climate change only to be subjected to physical abuse, heat stress, exploitation and discrimination, a new report from Equidem reveals. Serious labour violations have taken place at the site of COP28, Expo City, as well as at five renewable energy firms, including Siemens Energy. 

Based on correspondence with 248 workers, and interviews with 102, the expansive report offers unprecedented insight into the renewables, construction, security, and delivery sectors in the UAE, shedding light on both industrial and service sector working conditions for 9 million migrant workers. 

The shining facilities at Expo City Dubai boast internationally lauded solar and wind parks and a booming local gig economy. Underneath that cheerful exterior, however, women and men from some of the poorest countries on earth are falling victim to an unjust transition: Migrant workers from Africa and Asia are being subjected to serious human rights abuses in a nation whose oil and gas-powered economy is at the heart of the planet’s climate crisis. 

“Hosting this peak global conference in a climate and rights abusing state was bad enough. Equidem’s research starkly reveals that the UAE is failing on almost every metric of the UN’s own human rights benchmarks for addressing climate change through the COP process,” said Mustafa Qadri, CEO of Equidem. 

Abuses include workplace violence, wage theft, working in extreme heat and other occupational health and safety risks, nationality-based discrimination, exploitative hiring practices, understaffing and overwork, lack of opportunities for promotion, overcrowded accommodations, inadequate food allowances, and inadequate channels for workers to seek relief from these violations. 

Investigations by Equidem were carried out between February and October 2023 at Expo City Dubai and in the renewables and delivery sectors, including at Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, Al Dhafra Solar Power Project, Noor Abu Dhabi Solar Plant, Sir Bani Yas Wind Farm Project; and in the delivery sector in the UAE. 

  • Together, 57% of the migrant workers interviewed come from climate impacted areas of Asia and Africa.
  • 41 % of the workers reported nationality-based discrimination.
  • 77.% of the workers in renewable sector reported living in overcrowded accommodations, with up to 20 people in a room fit for six or fewer workers.
  • 83% of the African and Asian workers interviewed reported being unable to afford nutritious and healthy food.
  • 40% of the workers said they were skipping meals.

Equidem’s research found that African and Asian workers have migrated for employment based upon climate impacts in their own country, and then find employment in the industrial and service sectors in the UAE. These migrant workers are doubly impacted by the global climate crisis—they migrate in response to climate impacts and find employment in exploitative industrial and service contexts where they work long hours in extreme heat. These rights violations take place against a backdrop of racially delineated exclusion from labour rights protections, denial of freedom of association, and authoritarian suppression of dissent in the UAE. 

Download a copy of this publication here (Link).


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