COP 28: Peace on Agenda as Need to Phase Out Fossil Fuels and Address Military Emission Continues
Once again, thousands will face off at COP with the majority working to phase out fossil fuels while petrostates and industry officials insist that technology is the answer, and all of this taking place as ever hotter temperature records continue to be set, notably September 2023 was Earth’s most extreme month for heat ever recorded.
This year, however, COP28 will be dominated by special interests as never before. It is being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under the most scandalous circumstances ever. In 2022, the UAE was the seventh largest total liquid fuels producer in the world. Widely criticized as an unprecedented conflict of interest, the UAE has appointed the CEO of the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber, as COP 28 President. He is also the Chairman of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s Renewable Energy Company, Al-Jaber’s confidence in the continuing production of fossil fuels remains solid. Under his leadership, ADNOC plans to invest $150 billion to boost its oil production to 5 million barrels per day by 2027.
As far as COP 28 goes, don’t expect Al-Jaber to support phasing out fossil fuels. He will instead call for phasing out “unabated fossil fuel emissions.” This does not bode well for reversing the trend of disappointing COPs. Meanwhile the climate situation has become increasingly dire, and this is worsened by the impact of U.S. military emissions and our nation’s role in ensuring that a special exemption was granted to them in the lead up to the 1997 Kyoto Accords. Calling attention to the costs of militarism and wars has been a long time focus of Veterans for Peace (VFP). Since its inception, efforts by the Climate Crisis and Militarism Project (CCMP) have served to increase national and international awareness of the impact of militarism and wars on the climate. CCMP has also been making the case that military emissions must be included in annual mandatory reporting to the UNFCCC.
A lot of work has been done on this issue by many entities including CCMP’s ally, the Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS), which have been carefully tracking, assessing and reporting on military emission gaps, notably those of NATO, but of all nations as well. I was able to address the US State Department on the issue of US military emissions at COP 27 in my capacity as an NGO delegate/observer held in Egypt last year and will be attending officially (although virtually) as an NGO delegate/observer again this year. Although my concerns about military emissions was acknowledged there has been no visible movement on this topic. The impacts of military emissions were also discussed in a relevant COP side event organized by the Ukrainian Government last year and they will be and emphasized even more in this year’s official side events.
COP is, finally, going to be more inclusive of CCMP ’s own deeply held concerns for “peace”. Yet, it is imperative that we hold powerfully to our commitment to phase out of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel interests will remain intensely lucrative with or without war. We cannot allow COP to divert our attention from the war that the fossil fuel entities are waging against the entire world.
Cindy Piester, CCMP Steering Committee
CCMP at COP27: Our Accomplishments
Our Steering Committee member (Outreach), Cindy Piester, also representing our ally WILPF, attended COP27, building on the work of VFP member David Collins during COP26. Listen to the podcast with Cindy's insights into what good (some) and not-so-good (a lot) came out of COP27. She handed out and wore (!) our popular bumpersticker and our CCMP brochures, and had many productive conversations with other civil society participants.
- Cindy's work included:
- Networking with other organizations working on climate + militarism nexus, including British-based Conflict and Environment Observatory.
- Building awareness of the relationship between the existential crises of global militarism including the increased threat of nuclear war, and global climate change, including connecting with former Vice President Al Gore, a panel of US Senators, and many activists from all over the world.
- Read Cindy's in-depth article, "Lessons Learned from COP27".
Heading out to the COP 27 [2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference] in Sharm el Sheikh [in November] an NGO delegate, I hoped to move forward the conversation on the need for the United Nations to count all emissions, including military emissions, so that we might limit warming to the 1.5 Celsius rise above pre-industrial times by the century’s end.
The suffering of the Global South is overwhelming. The Saharan Desert is expanding. At the same time, floods have destroyed housing, schools, crops, livestock, fresh water supplies and sanitation facilities. This has culminated in putting populations at risk of epidemics of cholera, malaria and starvation.
The U.S. long held the record as the world’s largest cumulative emitter of greenhouse gasses (GHG). Our military is the world’s largest institutional user of fossil fuels and the world’s largest institutional producer of GHG emissions, yet these emissions, thanks to the U.S. government, have flown under the radar since the Kyoto Accords in 1997. Researchers tell us that military emissions globally are about 5% of the whole annually, yet reporting them remains optional and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change protocols serve to intentionally obscure any military emissions reported by mixing them in with civilian emissions.
Pictured above: Cindy Piester addresses the US State Department at COP27 on issues related to military emissions impact on climate and UNFCCC reporting protocols.
Pictured below: Al Gore at COP27 event, Egyptian Youth Delegates, and Cindy wearing a CCMP bumper sticker.
VFP Statement on Results of COP26 - If COP26 is the "last best hope for the world" as Climate Envoy John Kerry stated, the USA is largely responsible for the failure to achieve that "hope." President Biden says the USA is "... leading by the power of our example". The Veterans For Peace Climate Crisis & Militarism Project (CCMP) believes that the USA's poor "example" led to the half-measures achieved at COP26.
- Why should other nations, both USA's friends and foes, prioritize action on climate when the USA spends more in one year on so-called "defense" than the total 10-year funding for climate action proposed in Biden's Build Back Better plan?
- Biden's promised doubling of funds "...by 2024 to $11.4 billion per year to help developing nations deal with climate change," is less than the funds added by Congress to an already bloated FY 2022 military budget.
...CCMP understands the Biden Administration and U.S. Congress cannot pivot from decades of pursuing global military dominance to seriously addressing the climate crisis without political support from the American people. Consequently, going forward we plan to support efforts, such as Congresswoman Barbara Lee's (CA-13) resolution H. Res. 767, which calls for the monitoring and reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. military. We in CCMP will continue our programs of public education and advocacy, online and in person. By highlighting the emissions of the single largest institutional source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet, CCMP will enlist allies in support of reprioritizing resources to defend against the real threat to USA's security, the climate crisis.
Read the full statement on COP26 here!