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13 Nov 2022

Nina Lakhani, The Guardian

COP27: Climate justice activists demand community-based renewable projects

Alexandros Michailidis, Shutterstock

Members of an indigenous delegation from Brazil take part in the Walk for Your Future climate march ahead of COP27 in Brussels, Belgium in October 2022

"A just transition depends on energy systems that work for everyone", 13 November 2022

The west’s dash for African gas has become a rallying point at Cop27, with climate justice activists calling out the hypocrisy of rich polluting nations who are scrambling to keep energy prices down by pushing for more fossil fuel projects in Africa...It has been called out as “energy colonialism” – a political-corporate alliance on display at Cop27. There, more than 630 industry lobbyists are scattered around the conference... as deals on climate finance, forests and food systems are being made...

But the climate justice movement’s message is clear: community-based renewable projects that work for the people, not corporations, are a necessity, according to Dipti Bhatnagar, from Friends of the Earth International in Mozambique. “It’s not just about the energy source, it’s about the whole energy system – who decides, who benefits and who profits.” ...

“This is not just transition, this is land grabbing,” said John Tingoi, 47, from the Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation (Impact) in northern Kenya. “If you violate people’s basic rights and the communities have no benefits, it can never be just.” ...

“The renewable energy sector is at risk of replicating the abuses of the profit driven extractive model. If we’re talking about climate but not talking about inequality and human rights, then we’re not talking about a just and sustainable energy transition,” said Jessie Cato, natural resources programme manager at the Resource Centre.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In Kenya, after years of campaigning by activists, new legislation in 2016 banned the sale or lease of communally owned land without the consultation and approval of the whole community, in an effort to stop corrupt land deals between investors and local leaders. The communities around Turkana are using the legislation to fight another land grab – of 110,000 acres this time – and so far the court has sided with them...