In COP28 speech, Colombian President Gustavo Petro calls for a free Palestine
Posted on December 7th, 2023

The Colombian head of state has been consistently speaking out in support of Palestine amid Israel’s genocidal attacks. At the COP 28 summit, he pointed out that the devastation wreaked on Gaza was a harbinger of what might happen to those fleeing from climate catastrophes

December 03, 2023

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) began on November 30 in Dubai. Around 70,000 delegates are participating in the nearly two- week conference, including member states, business leaders, young people, climate scientists, Indigenous Peoples, journalists, and other experts and stakeholders.

The conference seeks to bring together these diverse sectors in order to build serious, global solutions that can address the pressing climate crisis and accelerate collective climate action. It is taking place amid Israel’s genocidal war against the Gaza Strip, which world leaders have brought up in their addresses to the conference and in other events.

In his opening remarks to the conference, Colombian President Gustavo Petro condemned the actions of rich countries which have yet to fulfill their key responsibilities and commitments. He also linked the issue of climate change and the devastation in Gaza and highlighted the latter as a harbinger of what is to come.

CO2 emissions can also be measured in terms of social inequality. Those who most emit CO2 and most consume carbon are rich. The poor pollute the environment the least.

This social inequality in today’s world is the reason why the Paris COP goals have failed.

Today, 12% more CO2 is emitted in the world than in 2010. That means, the richest sectors of humanity have expanded their carbon consumption and therefore CO2 emissions, leading humanity and life to crisis.

In addition to such aberration, the Climate Fund was not financed as promised to protect non-CO2 emitting populations, which means poor populations.

Rich countries’ capitalism resists devaluing the wealth of their societies based on carbon production and consumption. These states cannot and do not wish to devalue their fossil capital, capital based on oil, coal and gas. That would radically diminish and disrupt the structure of wealth.

Fossil energy has been essential in the enormous growth of work productivity, therefore, in the profits of the richest people on the planet. Those who dominate political power do not allow the very basis of their wealth to be extinguished.

The American dream, the European comfort, the rich syndrome from China or India are based on plenty carbon consumption. The consumption of the richest part of humanity on the planet, based on carbon, is a consumption based on the death of others.

Hence the enormous capacity for destruction that is the basis of sustaining fossil capital.

On the other hand, the transfer of wealth from the North to the South to adapt non-CO2-emitting populations to the increasingly deadly contingencies of climate impacts are seen outside the market. In the South, in their tropical areas, the availability of water is decreasing, causing an exodus.

The emptying of populations from the South to the North and the march of entire populations to the North is underway. The enormous social inequality regarding carbon consumption and the rising increase in carbon in the wealthy North population causes the exodus from the south to the north.

There are tens of million people today; tomorrow they will be hundreds of millions. What will happen with this exodus? What will happen to democracy? What will happen to international law? What will happen to humanity?

I invite all of you to imagine a combination of facts — the projection of the climate crisis in five or ten years and the current genocide of the Palestinian people. Are these facts disconnected? Or can we look at there [Gaza] as a mirror of the immediate future? The unleashing of genocide and barbarism on the Palestinian people is what awaits the exodus of the peoples of the South unleashed by the climate crisis.

If the wealth bearers from the North, with intensive carbon consumption, do not allow the emitting chimneys to be turned off, that means they do not stop consuming oil, coal, and gas, [and then] the supporting pillars of human existence in the planet will be irreversibly broken. That breakdown will be uneven.

Most of the climate victims, whose number will increase in billions, will be in countries that do not emit at all or emit very little CO2. Without transfers of wealth from the North to the South, climate victims will have less water in their habitats and will move towards the North, where melting ice will allow fresh water. The exodus will involve billions.

​This immense exodus will have a response in the North. We are already seeing it in the anti-immigration policies of rich countries and the rise of the extreme right within them. Hitler is knocking on the European and American middle-class homes’ doors and many are letting him in. The exodus will be responded to with a lot of violence and barbarism. What we are seeing in Gaza is a rehearsal of the future.

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Why have large carbon-consuming countries allowed the systematic murder of thousands of children in Gaza? Because Hitler has already entered their homes and they are getting ready to defend their high levels of carbon consumption and reject the exodus it causes.

We can then see the future: the breakdown of democracy and the barbarism unleashed against our people, the people who do not emit CO2, the poor people.

Is this future of a generalized Gaza against the growing exodus of our people avoidable?

The votes at the United Nations on the barbarism against Palestine mark a global political fragmentation. There are still countries that, on the verge of sinking, like the islands of Vanuatu and other islands, vote against Palestine, but the vast majority of the world’s poor people have united to stop the barbarism.

Only a few countries in Europe and North America, the largest consumers of carbon, vote in favor of genocide.

There is no other alternative than the usual path, the path of unity of the poor and their struggle.

Colombia has proposed overcoming the climate crisis through multilateralism, through international law, making the COP plans binding on all parties, and creating a space of global public powers that plans the transition to a decarbonized economy.

Colombia has proposed the restructuring of the global financial system, the debt-for-nature swaps and the issuance of Special Drawing Rights to finance climate crisis mitigation, and adaptation plans [and] the strengthening and reform of the United Nations.

Colombia has stopped signing coal, oil and gas exploration contracts. Colombia has dismantled the gasoline subsidies and we are encouraging the world [to implement] a global ban on fracking.

Colombia has tapped 70% of its clean energy sources. Colombia has contributed by 70% the reduction of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest with its own resources.

Colombia hopes for the unity of the entire Southern countries around saving life on the planet and human existence.

Perhaps if we see a free Palestine reemerging among their remains today, we will be able to see a living humanity re-emerge tomorrow in the midst of the remains of the climate crisis. Thank you.

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