#COP27: Palestine is a climate justice issue
Let’s unite our struggles to stop the greenwashing of systematic oppression.
The 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) will start on the 6th of November in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt.
Climate justice movements have often exposed the lack of will and courage of governments’ delegates during previous COP conferences. Too often key decisions have been postponed and agreements are signed as long as they are non binding, without seriously dealing with the challenge of climate disaster we are living through. Yet the COPs were often also a space where civil society could gather, network, exchange ideas and protest.
This year, heavy security measures will prevent protests by climate and social justice movements from taking place. While Egypt is eagerly waiting to host the summit this year, attention turns to the growing number of Egyptian political and social activists imprisoned for their peaceful organizing. Prisoner of conscience Alaa Abd el-Fattah has escalated his hunger strike for freedom and justice ahead of COP27, as the Egyptian regime’s prosecutions of civil society activists and organizations continues, hand in hand with its deep normalizing ties with Israel. This is further proof of the authoritarian nature of the Egyptian regime that is using the conference to greenwash its human rights abuses, as several independent organizations have stated, presenting a “prettier face” to distract attention from its grave human rights violations.
12 Egyptian human rights organizations launched a petition calling on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those held simply for peacefully exercising their human rights, and end the arbitrarily blocking of websites and release all journalists immediately.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) reiterates its call on all international human rights institutions and relevant United Nations committees to intensify pressure on the Egyptian authorities to release all Egyptian political prisoners and human rights defenders unconditionally. The struggles for political and civil rights, socio-economic justice, as well as climate justice in the Arab World and elsewhere are interconnected and intersectional. United, we shall prevail over all systems of oppression. Freedom for all political prisoners in Egypt and around the world.
Palestine is also a Climate Justice Issue!
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian coalition that leads the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, believes that the struggle to dismantle Israel’s decades-old regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid in Palestine goes hand in hand with global struggles for justice, including climate justice. The catastrophic climate crisis is exacerbated by global inequality and oppression and mainly caused by complicit governments and corporations that put profit before people and planet.
Indigenous Palestinians living under these conditions, with no control over their land or natural resources, are highly vulnerable to the climate crisis. With Israel monopolizing resources, rising temperatures are exacerbating desertification as well as water and land scarcity, entrenching climate apartheid.
The following examples show the need of a common struggle against apartheid and climate disaster:
The role of JNF
Israel’s greenwashing and apartheid policies are made possible through complicit governments, companies and institutions that support and enable its regime of oppression. One major institution is the so-called Jewish National Fund (JNF). For 120 years, the JNF has been responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Indigenous Palestinians.
Created in 1901 as an instrument for the Zionist colonisation of historical Palestine, the JNF holds 13% of the lands belonging to Palestinian refugees expelled during the 1948 Nakba. It is a core component of the Israel Land Authority which administers 93% of the land under apartheid Israel’s control in its pre-1967 borders. There it has planted millions of non-native tree species and invasive plants, causing enormous harm to biodiversity. JNF forests are mainly designed to hide the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages.
The Interconnector project and Siemens
The EuroAsia Interconnector will link Europe’s electricity infrastructure with Israel’s national grid that includes - and de facto annexes - the illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land. These colonial settlements will benefit, therefore, from all trade of electricity between the state-owned Israel Electricity Corporation (IEC) and Europe.
If built as planned by Siemens, the Interconnector will give international recognition to (i.e., “normalize”) Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and enable their expansion.
The role of fossil gas and Chevron
Contrary to propaganda claims by the fossil fuel lobby, gas is not a “transitional” fuel; it is a fossil fuel used by greedy multinationals to hold on to profits and influence while devastating ecosystems and the climate.
Chevron contributes to financing Israel’s regime of apartheid, settler colonialism and occupation by paying billions of dollars for its gas extraction licences. With its extraction activities, the corporation is also complicit in apartheid Israel’s practice of depriving the Palestinian people of its right to sovereignty over its natural resources, including, among others, through the illegal siege of Gaza and blockade of Gaza’s sea, which Israel imposes by brutal and deadly force. Chevron is also implicated in Israel’s illicit transfer of extracted fossil gas to Egypt through a pipeline illegally crossing the Palestinian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in Gaza, owing Palestinians millions in transit fees.
Greenwashing is the practice used by Israeli apartheid to hide its crimes and violence under a fake narrative that presents the regime as if it cared about the environment. This is analogous to Israel’s cynical and desperate use of sports, culture and LGBTQ+ rights as propaganda tools to somehow obtain a “democratic license” that could erase the crimes of apartheid in people’s minds.
Greenwashing is enacted not only by Israel, but also by other powerful allies. Among these are corporations such as PUMA, AXA, and Barclays that are blatantly complicit with Israeli apartheid and that try to hide their complicity with shallow superficial acts of environmental protection.
Apartheid Israel’s government, agribusinesses and water companies play a key role in Israel’s destruction of the environment and Palestinian agriculture, the dispossession of Palestinian farmers, and land grabs to strengthen Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.
Haifa Chemicals is a private Israeli multinational supplier of fertilizers. Netafim is an Israel-based irrigation technology company, acquired in 2018 by Mexican firm Mexichem, while 20% of its shares are still held by Kibbutz Hatzerim where it was founded. Mekorot is the Israeli state-owned water company stealing water from Palestinian aquifers. Israeli water companies are an integral part of what a French parliamentary report has condemned as Israel’s “water apartheid”. Mekorot is listed in the UN database of companies implicated in Israel’s settlement enterprise, which constitutes a war crime under international law.
Join the struggle
In light of the above, for the entire duration of the COP27, we call on partners, supporters and allies of the BDS movement worldwide to join local marches and events campaigning for climate justice, for the end of corporate and state greenwashing, for an immediate phase out from fossil fuels.
We furthermore invite everyone to join activities bringing slogans, banners and messages reminding the world that Palestine is also a climate justice issue, and that the struggle for a better world needs to be intersectional.