COP28: Activists Allowed to Protest Against the Use of Fossil Fuels, Violence in Gaza

People protesting
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
COP28: Activists Allowed to Protest Against the Use of Fossil Fuels, Violence in Gaza

The protests began on Saturday when human rights activists demanded an end to the killing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip in an Israeli offensive against Hamas.

On Sunday, activists from countries including Kenya raised their voices calling for the immediate implementation of the cessation of air and environmental pollution by the world's richest nations.

The meetings were also held on Monday morning.

Carrying banners reading 'no more fossil fuels' meaning no longer fossil fuels and 'let Lake Victoria breathe again' meaning 'let Lake Victoria breathe again', the activists had the chance to express their grievances to the public for an hour.

Speaking to Nation Today, activist and chief executive of the Eurogroup for Animal branch of Kisumu Miriam Wanjiku said the activists were forced to raise their voices to protest what they said were unbelievable stances about the ban on energy-intensive forms of pollution.

He regretted that the effects of climate change have continued to make life more difficult for poorer nations.

"I regret that climate change has continued to have a huge impact on people in countries that are trying to rise like Kenya while not getting compensation. This is why we insist that victims must now receive compensation and that all nations must stop using fossil fuels," Ms. Wanjiku said.

A woman holds a protest sign
Environmental activist and chief executive of Eurogroup for Animal branch of Kisumu Miriam Wanjiku protests in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) / Credit: Jacob Walter.  

He cited how Lake Victoria is becoming increasingly polluted, causing even long-known fish species to begin to deteriorate rapidly.

All water systems such as lakes, oceans, springs and rivers have also been affected, with biodiversity in crisis.

His slogan at the march is 'Let Lake Victoria breathe again'.

Ms Wanjiru also regretted that the life of coral bamboo in the Indian Ocean is also a worrying factor, saying pollution is to blame.

As a result, some Kenyan scientists have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the actions taken by the countries in the eradication of fossil fuels.

He has been particularly concerned about the rise in climate disasters such as floods and droughts that have continued to increase in Africa.

He regretted that the fate of future generations is in doubt if today's leaders fail to meet the goals set out.

Kisumu's environmental scientist, Clifford Omondi, warned that the situation would worsen if rich nations failed to accelerate the abolition of fossil fuels.

Mr Omondi also challenged the funding commitments to compensate climate change victims under the 'Loss and Damage Fund' programme, saying it could be empty promises to turn a blind eye to poor nations and urged rich nations to meet their commitments quickly.

"We will not be left with this planet again if efforts to end fossil fuel use are not championed," Mr Omondi said.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on climate change mitigation, announced at COP28, 2022 was the sixth warmest year above the levels reported in the 20th century and since 1880.

The UAE is known for stringent laws that restrict workers' protests, activists and even political protests.

To use even any billboards in the country, people or organizations must obtain government approval.

Fears ran high ahead of the conference with many climate change activists fearing they would be barred from holding their protest over the many gaps still in the fight against the effects of climate change.

A man writes on a globe while a woman holds it.
Environmental activists protest in DUBAI in the Arab Emirates (UAE) / Credit: Jacob Walter.  

On December 2, 2023, more than 117 nations signed a treaty calling for the abolition of fossil fuel use by 2050. These include Brazil, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Canada, Chile, and Barbados.

However, China and India only gave an indicator that they could end the use of the oil by 2030.

According to the agreement reached by international leaders at the COP28 summit, all nations are expected to unite in reducing carbon emissions by 43% by 2030.

This story was produced as part of the 2023 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published by TaifaLeo on December 4, 2023 and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: People protesting / Credit: Jacob Walter.

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