Harlem’s WE ACT Turning Up The Heat At UN Climate Conference 2023

December 14, 2023

In a landmark finale to COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Dubai, UAE.

The global community witnessed pivotal developments that underscored a renewed commitment to climate justice and the urgent need for a transition away from fossil fuels.

Despite being unable to host the Climate Justice Pavilion for a second consecutive year, Harlem’s WE ACT, a prominent climate justice organization, demonstrated its dedication by dispatching a delegation of eight staff members to actively engage in discussions and negotiations.

Peggy Shepard, a key representative, played a prominent role in five-panel discussions, covering diverse topics such as funding climate justice, carbon markets, and the collaborative efforts needed among activists, academics, and philanthropy to propel climate justice forward.

Shepard’s engagements extended beyond panels, as she met with U.S. Department of Energy representatives to express opposition to the expansion of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) infrastructure. To disseminate critical information, a webinar was recommended for those keen on understanding how LNG is adversely impacting communities and potential solutions.

Among the high-profile interactions, Shepard engaged with the U.S. State Department’s delegation, emphasizing key issues such as climate adaptation, resilience, migration, and loss and damage. Notably, the latter emerged as a significant outcome of COP28—an initiative seeking to assist developing countries in coping with climate change impacts.

Developed nations, historically responsible for substantial greenhouse gas emissions, are expected to contribute funding, with an initial commitment of $400 million, though substantial gaps in funding persist.

In a historic move, global leaders reached a consensus on the imperative to “transition away” from fossil fuels in a “just, orderly, and equitable” manner. This acknowledgment, a culmination of 28 annual global summits, signifies a monumental step forward.

However, critics point out that the original language advocating for a “phase-out” of fossil fuels was replaced with the milder language of transitioning away.

Equally noteworthy is the commitment by over 120 nations, including the United States, to triple renewable energy by 2030. In parallel, countries reaffirmed their dedication to reducing methane emissions by at least 30 percent by the same year.

Harlem’s WE ACT’s impact extended beyond Shepard’s contributions, with Pamela Stewart-Martinez, Marileidy Pimentel, and Dr. Micaela Martinez delivering a bilingual presentation at the Dominican Republic’s pavilion. Their presentation showcased WE ACT’s approach to advancing climate justice, serving as a model for grassroots organizations worldwide.

As COP28 concluded, the WE ACT team actively participated in roundtable discussions, receptions, and meetings, laying the groundwork for a global climate justice movement. Anticipation is high for the return of the Climate Justice Pavilion at the next conference, projected to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The collective efforts at COP28 have set the stage for a transformative shift towards a sustainable and equitable future, reinforcing the critical role of activism and collaboration in addressing the urgent challenges posed by climate change.

Photo credit: WEACT.

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