At the end of November, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) will launch in Dubai. Held at the end of a year that broke several heat records, the event is expected to set the stage for a major push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost adaptation to climate change globally.
But ahead of the conference, there have already been warnings from climate activists and civil society that unless there is a marked shift in the approach to climate policy, COP28 may fail to make any significant progress.
In the Global South, there is persistent concern that rich nations and international companies will push for policies that allow them to continue business as usual, with poorer nations, which are least responsible for climate change, bearing the brunt. of the climate crisis.
These trends have been observed in previous climate events, including most recently at the African Climate Summit held in Nairobi in early September.
The conference, which brought together thousands of representatives from governments, businesses, international organizations and civil society, was an opportunity for African people to agree on a common position on issues such as compensation for losses and damages, climate mitigation and finance. climate change before COP28.
But the final document issued by the summit – the Nairobi Declaration – did not reflect a consensus and the best interests of African nations.
This is not surprising, given that lobbyists from Global North countries and companies have had space and high-level access to push for false solutions. Meanwhile, many of the delegates – activists and members of civil society who called for clarity and solutions to support our continent – faced access difficulties during the proceedings and felt marginalized.
As a result, instead of pushing for policies that would lead the Global North to compensate African nations for their historic greenhouse gas emissions that catalyzed global warming, the summit embraced policies that will further harm African nations.
His statement heavily focused on – and legitimized – problematic practices such as carbon credits, offsetting and trading.
These are false solutions and are not what Africa needs. They constitute a neocolonial tactic that allows the Global North to continue emitting greenhouse gases, while maintaining control over African lands and peoples and taking credit for reductions in African emissions.
Carbon trading is based on the idea that carbon dioxide emissions in one place can be “offset” by expanding carbon capture activities in another, such as planting new trees or protecting forests to allow them to grow. natural regeneration. This allows large carbon emitters in the Global North to pay nature-rich countries in the Global South to preserve or expand forest areas.
But many of these areas are inhabited by local populations who use the forests and land for their subsistence and food. Carbon trading schemes effectively expel people from their home countries and strip them of their rights in the name of carbon preservation and capture.
It has been well documented that such schemes are failing to address rising carbon emissions and enabling the greenwashing of companies and wealthy nations that refuse to reduce their emissions.
If carbon trading is not the solution, then how can the Global North support African countries in financing loss and damage, adaptation and mitigation?
Cap and share is an alternative model that is gaining popularity among climate activists and civil society. The system centers on an international carbon tax that would make polluters – including fossil fuel extractors and major consumers – in the Global North pay.
This tax, applied to fossil fuel extraction, would raise billions of dollars a year for a global Green New Deal fund that would finance the transition to renewable energy and support energy access for all. Revenues from the fund would also provide grants for loss and damage, adaptation and mitigation in the Global South, as well as universal cash transfers to support ordinary people.
Cap and share would establish a tax system that operates beyond the nation-state; Doing so is critical to climate justice and, in many ways, is long overdue.
Modeling suggests that the economic effects of a global carbon tax would be highly progressive, with Africa recording substantial gains, including the permanent eradication of extreme poverty in all participating nations. This policy can be applied alongside universal basic income and tax justice measures.
As we move towards COP28, the mistakes of the African Climate Summit and other similar climate events must not be repeated. The voices of climate activists and civil society in the Global South need to be heard.
We say no to carbon markets. We say no to the sale of carbon, forests and land from North Africa. We say yes to climate justice and climate finance that comes without strings attached.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.