COP28: Let us unite our struggles against greenwashing our systematic oppression
The Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broadest Palestinian civil society coalition leading the BDS movement, is calling on all Arab and progressive civil society and grassroots groups worldwide to put meaningful pressure on the UAE’s despotic rulers hosting the COP28 from November 30th to December 12th, including through a boycott of the conference.
The UAE dictatorship commits innumerous crimes against UAE citizens and migrant workers, horrific human rights violations, perpetrates war crimes in Yemen, and maintains a military-security alliance with Israeli apartheid.
As Palestinian civil society we commit to a full boycott of the COP28 and will work together with movements across the globe to oppose the farçe of allowing a police state that is one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers to host the UN conference that is tasked with fighting the climate crisis.
The struggle against Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid is intrinsically connected with the struggles against other oppressive regimes for political and civil rights, as well as with social, economic, and climate justice struggles globally. Many of the same companies and institutions that facilitate and profit from Israeli oppression and ethnic cleansing are also involved in the privatization of water and other natural resources, the theft of indigenous lands, extractivist industries and the exploitation of farming communities, and the promotion of false solutions. Many of them also support the increasing role of fossil fuel producers in the COPs.
Why do human rights defenders and climate justice activists find this year's COP in Dubai problematic?
Greenwashing Israeli colonization and Apartheid:
Apartheid Israel's interest in COP28 is part of its strategy to deflect criticism from its system of oppression against Palestinians by projecting Israeli technology as a significant player in international efforts against climate change, a strategy known as greenwashing. A substantial Israeli delegation is expected to participate in the summit, receiving praise from the UAE regime, which has normalized relations with Israel three years ago.
Normalizing the current far-right Israeli government:
While the current Israeli government, the most far-right, racist, and fundamentalist ever, intensifies its colonial settlement policies and apartheid against the Palestinian people, the UAE dictatorship hastened to invite Israel’s racist Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog to participate in the summit. Official delegations from the Israeli Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the so-called "Ministry of Environmental Protection" will accompany them, along with several Israeli companies involved in grave human rights violations against Palestinians.
The UAE regime has previously embraced extremist Israeli ministers of this government, such as the fanatic Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir, and the Minister of Finance Betzalel Smotrich, who openly identifies as a "fascist”. Notably, even the US administration and the European Union, the largest partners in Israeli crimes, refuse to meet with these fascist ministers.
Promoting Companies Involved in Israeli Crimes:
Apartheid Israel’s delegation to the summit is organizing numerous events to promote technologies and ‘solutions’ in the fields of energy, water scarcity, agriculture and food-tech that have been developed and used to oppress Palestinians and exploit our natural resources.
The Israeli company Netafim, for example, which is complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, a war crime in international law, will participate in the UAE COP28 summit in Dubai. Another complicit company that is likely to be part of the still-unannounced delegation is Mekorot, Israel’s National Water Company, that is notorious for stealing water from Palestinian groundwater sources and enabling water apartheid and is listed in the UN database for its involvement in the Illegal settlements.
In 2021, the Israeli delegation to the COP26 was led by the Deputy CEO of Israel Chemicals Ltd, the company supplying the Israeli army with white phosphorus used in shells fired at Palestinians in Gaza.
Greenwashing the Despotic Emirati regime:
By hosting the climate summit, the Emirati regime aspires to greenwash its flagrant violations of human rights in the UAE and war crimes in Yemen, while expanding its fossil fuel business and exacerbating the climate crisis, as reported by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
An act of greenwashing hypocrisy that aroused the anger of human rights groups and movements demanding climate justice, was the appointment of Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, CEO of the giant state oil company ADNOC and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi energy company Masdar, was as the President-Designate of the COP. More than 400 climate and environmental groups, in addition to European and American politicians, have demanded his removal.
Many activists in climate and social justice movements will stay away from the COP this year in protest of the above and for fear of the regime’s repression. UAE law allows security authorities to arrest anyone without a judicial order for a period of up to 90 days, which can be extended. Anyone charged with damaging the "reputation of the UAE" and its symbols and institutions may be punished with up to 10 years in prison.
Platforming Big Polluters and Fossil Fuel Consumers:
Climate justice campaigners have consistently opposed the transformation of COP summits into ‘greenwashing opportunities’, where communities most impacted by the climate crisis and grassroots campaigners are excluded from the discussions and decisions, while big corporate polluters such as Coca Cola and Siemens participate as sponsors.
Campaigners have been calling out the farce of developed countries, the biggest consumers of fossil fuel, imposing limitations on countries of the Global South, who are facing the bulk of climate crisis-induced disasters including devastating floods and typhoons and sea-level rise.
Intersectional campaigns for climate justice and against apartheid
Palestine is a cause of human rights and climate justice. The defense of our land and resources, and our opposition to Israeli greenwashing companies and institutions are part of our liberation struggle, which is inherently linked to global struggles for Indigenous rights, land rights and the struggle against the fossil fuel industry and climate colonialism. Together, we can strengthen our common intersectional struggle for true and meaningful climate justice.
Through the boycott of COP28 and other tactics of pressure building, the Palestinian BDS National Committee invites you to join us in exposing the COP28 summit for its farce, and the despotic UAE regime for its human rights violations and fossil fuel profiteering. We invite you to build with us intersectional struggles against companies that greenwash Israeli apartheid and impose false solutions globally. Let us build towards finding grassroots and justice-oriented solutions to the climate crisis.