No matter how old the cries might be, the debates about combating climate change keeps on becoming fresher and fresher every day at UN Climate Conventions, UNFCC. The ODI report shows that “despite committing to end fossil fuel subsidies, 10 European countries (like France, Germany, UK, Italy, Spain, among others) continue producing 84% of Europe’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions [that] are still propping up the coal industry”.
On the other hand, our ‘poor’ developing countries are still trapped in the language of how to counteract issues of mass poverty, (gender, regional and tribal) inequality, and Climate change that is also cropping up. African countries lie among those who have the potential to emit greenhouse gas emissions which can deter the world from reaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius but haven’t followed due to poor machinery and low oil prices in the international market. Putting all that aside, the UNFCC faces another problem. There is influence of the so called ‘elephants’ at these climate meetings who have lots of money, the will and the influence on what agenda the fossil fuel industry debate should take; the likes of Exxon Mobil, Shell, etcetera.
Therefore, the question is: Are fossil fuel industry above our interests? In the report “Inside Job: Big Polluters’ lobbyists on the Inside at the UNFCC,” we are shockingly told that some of the world’s largest business organizations like The US Chambers of Commerce (that) “represents 3 million American businesses, the largest business organization in the world, funded by major corporate polluters…” has executives that deny climate change as a human activity causality and are as well strong critics of the Paris Agreement. The irony is they are “still granted a seat at the table at the UNFCCC” and continue to do “nothing to promote the cutting of emissions and has aggressively sought to stop domestic climate policies in their tracks.” In fact, “more than 270 business and industry organizations are admitted to take part in UNFCCC negotiations”
Thus should these big fossil fuel industry lobbyists continue to enjoy such a privilege of the UNFCC conventions while they continue in their climate denial? Isn’t time the UNFCC put an end to this climate chaos which undermines issues of global health, food crises, natural disasters and breeds more gender disparities?
The fossil fuels exploitation might not look to be our biggest problem in Uganda, but in reality, it is. Remember 2016, the hottest year on record? The effects of climate change keep on catching up with us. Uganda might not be emitting as seriously as China or US but the fossil fuel industries around us are enough to cause us pollution, bring us hunger, and contaminate the water sources and its habitats. The UNFCC not addressing or by continuously allowing the ‘elephants’ at the climate change global conventions is one way of portraying how constructive power can be. Fatton’s (1990) contends that class power envisages state power to stay the ruling class. But it’s also a lesson developing countries [can] draw from. It simply means today’s climate change negotiations are by construct usual business deals, something backed by the hand of the state that a dominant business entity (class) is allowed to negotiate for the state and its citizens.
The failure by the fossil fuel industry to recognize climate change as a real humanitarian issue, something causing now ‘environmental induced refugees’ is heart breaking. The rising temperatures, sea levels, the constant heat and scorching sun, the droughts and hunger, name it, make the access of goods and services in developing countries a dilemma since it brings along issues of scarcity and turmoil. The guise of these lobbyists in the name of “corporate social responsibility”complex is in a Marxist lens, an incentive to greater exploitation since it keeps society in check unconscious of its false interests.
My prayer is only one, the fossil fuel industry lobbyists – the ‘Elephants’- should only be welcomed on board by their level of how they harness new advanced technologies that help in trapping and disposal of carbon dioxide without releasing it to the environment, their involvement in reforestation, promotion of renewable energy reliance. If countries must reach 2030 as net zero emitters and a free emissions planet by 2050 as agreed in #COP21 Paris Agreement, everyone must commit! Yes, the private sector “definitely have a role to play in climate action’ but the bigger question remains; are they going to be allowed to write the rules for it?”
Ibrahim Bahati is currently a Climate Tracker’s Fossil Fuel Online Fellow, (2017 Cohort); Email: firstname.lastname@example.org