CIVICUS together with over 200 organisations wrote an open letter asking the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and State parties to put human rights at the centre of the energy transition at COP27.
The climate crisis is among the most critical and complex issues our planet and its people face. Human rights and climate action are increasingly indivisible and the need to transition to cleaner energies has never been more urgent. Yet this transition will be set up to fail if it focuses solely on being fast, and not on also being just. We represent a wide range of movements and organisations, working for climate justice, human rights, labour rights, and corporate accountability. The profit driven extractive model which has underpinned the global energy model has not provided the economic benefits or development promised to many countries, and has entrenched existing inequalities, including around access to and ownership of energy, and gender inequality. It must be transformed.
COP27 offers a defining moment to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and set the compass resolutely towards the energy transition. Meeting this immense challenge requires swift and coordinated global action, as well as redirection of private and public investments to renewable energy projects. Disregarding the rights of local communities and Indigenous populations in the race to a decarbonized economy by 2050, in particular those impacted by the boom in the extraction of the minerals needed for the transition, and by land-intensive renewable energy projects, is short-sighted. It will result in numerous human rights violations and a failure of the responsibility of governments to protect human rights as established by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It is already causing widespread abuse of land, water, and Indigenous Peoples' rights: 495 allegations of human rights abuses were tracked so far in relation to transition minerals mining since 2010. But it will also continue to fuel opposition, conflict, and result in delays to both projects and achieving our global climate and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets. Such conflict has already resulted in at least 369 attacks on human rights, labour and environmental defenders around the world since 2015, including 98 killings, related to renewable energy projects, and 148 attacks, among them 13 killings, related to transition minerals mining.