BY PETER MAKWANYA
THE ongoing global climate change negotiations are highly influenced by power, politics and money as resources to influence decisions with little or no regard to scientific research and the environment. It’s all about personal interests, authority while the environment is left to play second fiddle. Therefore, climate change negotiations are a vicious cycle of contestations of power and politics.
The global climate change negotiations, otherwise known as Conference of Parties (Cop), and their programmed climate change adaptation activities have become platforms on which influential and well-resourced political actors seek to claim absolute authority and recognition with regards to how the world’s natural resources should be governed.
In this regard, politics, power and money have become ways through which societies decide on how to act on nature, including seeking to make climate change more political and ideological than environmental.
This has also witnessed gradual and deliberate efforts to commodify and monetise nature. Carbon markets and green bonds are markets where carbon emissions are negotiated and traded, with the Paris Agreement being the major point of reference. It is also the Paris Agreement which is the source of the ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), viewed as being at the heart of the Paris Agreement.
These are designed efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Paris Agreement (Article 4, paragraph 2) requires each country to prepare, communicate and maintain successive NDCs that it wishes to achieve. This marked the beginning of international political role-play, drama and words determined to affect mitigation and adaptation policies, including setting ambitious targets to pollute more.
The Paris Agreement was a highly political, power and monetary-induced process, through which carbon emission reduction targets were mooted, designed and calculated in the absence of concrete monitoring and policing mechanisms.
The production and release of gases into the atmosphere and their interaction with the environment are set to continue until the polluting nations decide to regulate themselves. These gases could be traded and sold as hot air, without taking into consideration the damage posed to the earth.
Business and financial interests, emanating from their obsession with power, money and political control drove the idea of emission targets. This comes as a result of intense political jockeying by a strategic coalition of large oil and chemical companies, financial markets and major banks with global influence and control.
This also means that the scientific processes, which lead to greenhouse gas emission and the subsequent warming process are ignored.
In the context of carbon emission, the poor are caught up in the emission cross-fire while their health and well-being are compromised. The gap of carbon emission inequalities continues to grow wider.
The voices of the poor, vulnerable and marginalised are being suppressed. While powerful international institutions are injecting capital into green technologies and green discourses including carbon trading, the depletion of natural resources and other ecological damages are being ignored. In this regard, the processes which accelerate global warming are left uncontrolled, thereby making international adaptation options very limited.
While the preservation of forests and wetlands is such a noble idea and is the way to go, these forms of the natural capital and carbon sinks need not to be monetised.
It is also power and politics which have led to the commodification of nature. This has culminated in markets and nature being ideologically and politically represented, as political power and financial institutions always influence the course of climate change negotiations and outcomes. This has also resulted in political divisions, unholy alliances, back-biting, behind-the-scenes machinations and intense jockeying for results which promote their political and economic interests.
It is also the politics of climate change that has influenced the climate change projections. This has become subject to debate and contestations. As a result, this has witnessed the emergence of political alliances designed to water down the role of science and research in climate change discourses. Social, political and economic differences and interests have polarised and widened gaps among the Conference of Parties leading actors.
Politics, power and money influence agendas of individuals and teams over others in international environmental governance and climate change adaptation.
Within the framework of power, politics and money influence green language which transforms the linguistic landscape as green or eco-conscious communication while masking their hidden climate agendas. Communication is a powerful tool which goes deeper to the core of people’s experiences.
The rich and powerful have gone an extra mile in designing communication tools that have an impact on overall human behaviours and attitudes.
The new climate change discourses are already dancing to the tune of the rich, powerful and well-resourced international political players and institutions in directing and guiding climate change debates and negotiations.
Finally, it is now time to expose the climate-induced and politically-driven machinations and lay them bare for the benefit of the environment in this fast-changing climate.
Political decisions at the expense of nature and manipulation of language to bribe target audiences and stakeholders affect climate change adaptations and recoveries.
- Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity.