The Global North’s struggle for energy security prevailed COP27 Last week in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Corporate and mining lobbyists were encouraged high speed trains, lithium car batteries, hydrogen mega projectsand wind farms to transition from fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions, local activists have resisted the same projects that are already causing irreparable environmental damage and worsening climate change.
The “clean energy” myth has long been the guiding logic of the UN climate conference. COP27 illustrated not only the tension between financial strategies that environmental activists say are as pointless as net-zero carbon trading, but also the battle over what a transition away from fossil fuels would look like.
“[If] everything is based on stopping, then solving, carbon emissions [proposed] electromobility is renewable energy (solar, wind, green hydrogen)” local activist Lesley Muñoz Rivera, member of the Perennial Observatory of the Andean Salt Flats (OPSAL in Spanish) and the Colla people from Chile participating in COP27. “The problem is viewed in a segmented way, thinking only about gas emissions, and they don’t see that water, communities and ecosystems are also affected. The problem is not visible at all. They only offer a zero-carbon solution, but they haven’t calculated the cost of these solutions. Proposals to bet on this type of energy will have a major impact on indigenous peoples, their lands, waters and ecosystems – for example, in the case of lithium mining in salt flats.
This year’s COP keyword was the term “harm and damage”, a legal term that evokes liability, compensation and reparations. But at COP27, loss and damage were re-examined through the lens of adaptation strategies such as new iterations of carbon trading logics and investment in energy infrastructure enterprises that disproportionately affect Indigenous peoples and the global south. Indigenous peoples are demanding an immediate end to fossil fuels and rejecting green-washed mineral extraction. They question whether it is ethical to frame infrastructure funding as justice for irreparable damage and permanent ecological and cultural loss.
A trade show before the apocalypse
As human rights activists around the world call for Britain’s release-Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-FattahIndigenous communities participating in COP27 announced “There is no Climate Justice without Human Rights,” addresses not only the exclusive context of the meeting in Egypt, but also the violence directed at environmental activists and local land and water protectors globally. Funding The climate process created by the UN is largely fragmented infrastructure projects This is what many local activists say will overwhelm them rather than compensation for local and frontline communities affected by the effects of industrial development.
COP27 was a angry trade show or a county fair for technologists, mining companies and the energy sector. “I see that the focus is distorted, it is based only on selling products and presenting themselves in the market as being responsible for the environment,” said Muñoz Rivera. “Although indigenous peoples are given a place in the COP, they are not part of any negotiations and cannot give opinions in official meetings, so the COP is content to say that there is only the participation of indigenous peoples, but such participation is limited to the blue zone, parallel events.”
“All these situations lead to indigenous peoples being the main victims of these fake solutions, whose only logic is to continue producing and damaging everything in their path,” said Muñoz Rivera. “People are not consulted as defined Convention 169 since pressure [began] to reach zero carbon, increases [energy] demand and sales solutions [put] higher than respect for rights”.
with the number of representatives fossil fuel connections increased by 25% Compared to last year, with the participation of 636 oil lobbyists, including the heads of British Petroleum and TotalEnergies. One third of the event space was designated as corporate innovation room Communities affected by climate change were held abroad in a specially designated free speech zone. The prospects for improving access and accessibility for affected nations and local climate activists at next year’s COP are even worse because the meeting will be held in an oil-rich country. United Arab Emirates (UAE) – a country with a poor human rights record and one of the heaviest fossil fuel and carbon emitters per capita.
Greenwashing will not save the planet
Citing the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, major technology and mining companies used COP27 to accelerate the expansion of the lithium market. One Pre-COP27 statement“50 more lithium mines, 60 more nickel mines and 17 more cobalt mines will be needed by 2030 to meet global net carbon emissions targets,” the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe said.
The World Bank is also campaigning “critical raw mineral” mining. Technologists have suggested that lithium is the lead decarbonization solution, increasing the market value of lithium. The anxious rush for lithium mining prospects at COP27 is directly at odds with lithium mining Dire warning from local communities that water-intensive lithium mining is environmentally destructive and dangerous to human life.
Colla indigenous activist Lesley Muñoz Rivera attended COP27. “white gold” rush In the Atacama flat of Chile. The brine evaporation method used in lithium mining threatens to permanently deplete water resources, drain wetlands, and cause irreversible ecocide in the world’s driest desert. Mining innovations promoted at COP27 in an attempt to extend lithium’s potential usefulness, despite the destructive effects of lithium mining and its inability to meet long-term global energy needs.
Ramón Balcazar, a Chilean rural development scientist and coordinator of OPSAL, criticized how COP27 legitimized green extractivism and lithium greenwashing through “responsible mining certificates” created by technology and mining companies, saying that “in practice, it validates companies. who deny the right to consultation and systematically deny the loss of water through evaporation [caused by their industry]as well as the impact of the wetlands and biodiversity found in the marginal area of the Salar de Atacama.
Muñoz Rivera worries that many open questions remain about whether the approval process will protect the human rights of indigenous peoples. “I believe that these certificates are only to validate these extractions, but they will not prevent damage to ecosystems and local communities.”
The Colla and Likan Antai communities are actively resisting the expansion of electric vehicles and lithium battery mining to protect their only access to fresh water in the Atacama Desert. COP27 shows how the climate crisis has taken a new shape, a war between energy demands and water needs.
“Harms and Harms” normalizes the destruction of the colonial environment
In the final hours of COP27, the European Union finally announced a loss and damage fund for poorer countries among the challengers dispute one of the world’s top greenhouse gas producers. And still the promised financial reward compensation to vulnerable countries fails to describe the huge and irreparable environmental, social, cultural, spiritual, historical and health costs of the climate crisis for those on the front lines. How do you calculate the cost of ending ancestral ways of life, the collapse of social and ecological fabric, and the death of loved ones from climate disasters?
Actual losses and damages are not limited to financial terms. Lithium mining has accelerated in the Atacama desert environmental degradation, damage to water systems and loss of biodiversity. Despite this, stories about lithium shortages and controls emerged at the COP27 talks, with Chile signing agreements with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to boost its mining agency. Corfu. Having just been provided $150 million from the US Department of Energy In October, Albemarle, located in the United States, developed itself cooperation with lithium technology developers for “sustainable” electric vehicles.
Climate activists and climate-impact nations have legitimate reason to worry that COP27 loss and damage funding will only be used for green energy infrastructure mega-projects that create more environmental loss and colonial damage, particularly affecting indigenous peoples. Industrial hubs are unlikely to pay for the destruction green energy businesses are wreaking on land, water and life – instead, they seem likely to perpetuate the cycle of damage and profit that caused the climate disaster in the first place.
“They insist on maintaining this economic model that does nothing but destroy us,” Muñoz Rivera said.