COP28: Climate Action Requires Upholding Rights

Human Rights

(Beirut) – Participants in the 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) should urge the UAE, the host, to end its repression of independent civil society and should make a commitment to phasing out fossil fuels, Human Rights Watch said today in issuing a question and answer document about the meeting. The conference will begin on December 30, 2023, and will be held in Dubai.

“This isn’t a climate conference for the faint-hearted,” said Richard Pearshouse, environment director at Human Rights Watch. “Governments from around the world need to turn up in the UAE prepared to deliver a clear message that ambitious climate action requires meaningful participation of independent voices, including those calling for the phaseout of fossil fuels.”

Global greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of oil, coal, and gas continue to increase, driving global warming. Plans by governments including the UAE, for increased production of coal, oil, and gas are inconsistent with their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Independent Emirati groups have already expressed deep concern about the human rights crisis in the UAE, particularly the government’s targeting of human rights defenders and political dissidents. The country’s best-known rights defender, a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa advisory committee, Ahmed Mansoor, has been imprisoned on spurious charges since 2017.

The UAE routinely arrests its critics, and authorities have ignored or denied requests for access to the country by United Nations experts, human rights researchers, and academics and journalists who have criticized UAE abuses.

“The UAE government should immediately and unconditionally release arbitrarily detained activists and human rights defenders, and commit to upholding human rights before, during and after the conference,” Pearshouse said. “We’re not going to achieve the robust climate policies the world so desperately needs unless governments start listening to civil society, including activists.”

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