How COP25 Failed Communities of the Global South

Dec 16, 2019

In December 2019, members of WALHI, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Japan, Centre for Environmental Justice and FoE Australia joined the FoE International delegation for the 25th UN climate conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. In regards to the negotiations, the good news is there was no deal made on destructive carbon markets. The bad news is, for countries already experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change, COP25 provided no new climate finance to support a loss and damage fund. 

According to Friends of the Earth International, after another round of deeply disappointing climate talks, “prospects for vulnerable communities in the global South look dire, as wealthy countries refuse to pay up for the climate damage they have caused and Northern governments and corporations push forward carbon trading”

Sara Shaw, Climate Justice and Energy Programme Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, said:

“Just as we thought the slow pace and weak ambition shown at the climate talks couldn’t get worse, along comes COP25. Here, we have witnessed the gutting of the already weak Paris Agreement, with the advance of dodgy carbon trading that will only exacerbate the climate crisis and harm Southern communities. And we have seen a refusal by developed countries to pay up for loss and damage finance, while they try to introduce language that would remove their liability for the impacts their emissions have caused.

“We are furious that while so many are already suffering the impacts of climate change, corporations and rich country governments are working to destroy any hope of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. And when we stood up in peaceful protest at COP25, we were aggressively suppressed.”

Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth International Chair, from Uruguay, commented:

“The ‘ambition’ claimed by developed country governments is a false one. They are serving the interests of corporations aiming to profit from the crisis and secure capital accumulation. The voices of people defending the rights of Indigenous Peoples, women and Southern communities were aggressively pushed out of the COP in a clear attempt to silence them. But peoples – in Madrid, Santiago, and around the world – are rising up and will continue to fight for environmental, social, gender and economic justice and system change. We will continue to demand that governments be accountable to people, not to corporate polluters.”

Despite the struggle faced during COP25, Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific stay strong in delivering our message of climate justice. On December 6, APac member groups joined 500,000 people in Madrid, marching for climate justice and equity for peoples impacted by the climate crisis.

During COP25, FoE Japan took to the streets, leading a series of actions, to demand that Japanese banks and the Japanese government stop funding the expansion of coal and fossil fuels. Ayumi Fukakusa from FoE Japan says Japan’s continued investment in fossil fuels is a climate crime. “We are sick of saying sayonara to coal! It’s time to ditch dirty energy!”.

Hemantha Withanag from the Centre for Environmental Justice and Yuyun Harmono from WALHI, spoke at opening of the Social Summit for Climate, bringing our message of #SystemChange, #GenderJustice and #Solidarity with peoples of Chile. Later, they were joined by Ayumi Fukakusa from FoE Japan and comrades from FoE Africa and FoE Latin America, to share their stories and experiences of climate impacts, false solutions and being on the frontlines fighting dirty energy in the Global South. 

Next year, COP26 takes place in Glasgow. Mary Church, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“The COP in Glasgow will be the fourth in a row to take place in the global North, putting additional barriers in the way of global South participation. In light of yesterday’s election results we anticipate the continuation of the racist ‘hostile environment’ UK border controls. The UN must put pressure on the new UK government to ensure the voices of those most affected by the climate crisis are not silenced or excluded at COP26. UK oil and gas expansion plans are completely incompatible with any claims of climate leadership. We are well overdue paying our carbon debt. The COP in Glasgow will serve as a rallying cry for all who care about our planet and the fate of peoples all over the world. The eyes of the world will be on us. It is not too late to act.”

Despite this lack of progress and consideration of climate vulnerable communities in the global South, we will continue to fight for climate justice. We will struggle on!

For more information contact:
Emma Harvey
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific Communications Coordinator
Email: emma.harvey@foe,