Rooting in Accountability: Taproot Earth is with the frontlines, not at COP28

In consultation with frontline leaders from the Gulf South, Appalachia, and the global Black Diaspora, Taproot Earth announces that we will not attend the 28th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

Taproot Earth will continue to support the engagement of frontline communities through direct support for Indigenous leaders from the Gulf South and the Global South. We acknowledge that for many Global South communities, engaging in COP28 is one of the only opportunities for civil society to 1) formally articulate the ongoing harms of extraction and inequity, 2) offer testimony of lived realities of the climate frontlines and 3) make demands of those most responsible for the climate crisis. 

Our decision not to attend COP28 is informed by the fact that the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the leading expanders of oil and gas production, is setting the stage. The UAE appointed a sitting fossil fuel CEO as President of the annual climate talks, with plans to roll out the red carpet for industry to deploy more damage to the planet and undermine the voices of the global frontline communities already struggling from the impacts of the climate crisis. 

The UAE is one of many state actors driving environmental destruction and fueling violence for the sake of profit and at the expense of the Black communities around the globe: this includes UAE’s massive land theft for carbon offsets in a host of African countries including Kenya and Liberia, UAE’s mine development deal in the Democratic Republic of Congo, UAE’s arming and aiding of paramilitary forces against civilians in Sudan, and cruel and illegal treatment of African migrant workers including many exploited used to prepare Dubai for the climate talks.

Taproot Earth has chosen not to invest entrusted resources to support the Global South in a nation that continues to profit from an energy sector that accelerates the climate crisis with no meaningful plans to shift course. Amidst the ongoing militarization and assault against Black bodies, Muslims, and women, we recognize the impossibility of holding our annual Black Climate Leaders Global Social as a joyful and safe space this year. And we could not ignore the UAE’s jailing of human rights defenders, restriction of political freedoms and massive surveillance practices, setting up difficult conditions for meaningful engagement of civil society in a space created to advance peace and democracy.

The current management of the UNFCCC process has continued to enable rich industrialized countries like the United States, who are overwhelmingly responsible for fueling the climate crisis, to escape responsibility for addressing the impacts of decades of pollution and obstruction on the rest of the world.  And while we are not rejecting the UNFCCC altogether, we are calling on the leadership of the United Nations and parties at COP28 to be more accountable to the planet and her people. 

Taproot Earth stands with the Global South in demanding that global governments take the following actions at COP28

1) Rapidly resource and deploy the Loss and Damage Fund adopted at COP28 rooted in accountability to frontline communities around the world;

2) Hold rich industrialized countries and corporations accountable to finance the fund based on historical responsibility for emissions;

3) Agree on an immediate cessation of all unproven technologies and capital-market based reactions to the need for a global energy transition, shifting the burden of proof onto industry to prove that no harm to humans or the environment. Such interventions must only advance after Free, Prior, and Informed Consent is achieved from the Indigenous Peoples of that place, and; 

4) Implement an immediate, fair, and absolute phase-out of fossil fuels in parallel with a just and equitable transition away from extractive industries and toward a more sustainable stewardship of land, energy, and water.