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Climate Activists Can Assemble Peacefully at COP28 – UAE

United Arab Emirates (UAE), has said there will be space available for climate activists to assemble peacefully and make their voices heard.

The Oil-rich nations who is set to host the 28th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) later this year in the business hub of Dubai, require official permission for protests but effectively bans demonstrations it deems disruptive.

The announcement was made in a joint statement with the UNFCCC released on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, and published by the UAE’s official WAM news agency.

The statement was coming on the heels of the COP28 president, Sultan Al Jaber, and UNFCCC chief, Simon Stiell, signing a bilateral agreement in Abu Dhabi that provides the legal basis for organising and hosting the climate talks.

“We are firmly committed to ensuring that UN values are upheld at COPs,” the statement quoted Stiell as saying.

Tuesday’s announcement was welcomed by campaign group Climate Action Network International which commended “the COP28 Presidency for their dedicated efforts towards fostering an inclusive climate summit”.

But it warned that it would “resist any attempts to curtail (civil society) participation,” according to Harjeet Singh, its head of global political strategy.

The UAE is a major oil producer and one of the world’s largest emitters of CO2 per capita.
The choice for it to host COP28 has sparked criticism from environmental groups which warn that the involvement of a major oil exporter could slow progress in the fight against global warming.

Non-government groups including Human Rights Watch have also warned that the Gulf state’s restrictions on freedom of expression could hinder the meaningful participation of climate activists.

“Civil society actors will struggle to effectively play their role in pushing for ambitious action to address the climate crisis in a country whose government has such an abysmal human rights record,” HRW warned in a March report.

Large protests have been common at most previous COPs, and limited rallies were allowed at the last UN climate talks in Egypt, where authorities regularly crack down on demonstrations and detain activists.

The COP27 Egypt host faced criticism over restrictions that made for a tight protest space, where activists had to request accreditation 36 hours in advance and provide detailed information on the organisers and on the protest.

Approved demonstrations were allowed only during certain hours, and in a specific purpose-built area that saw a heavy security presence.

It was a far cry from COP26 in Glasgow, where tens of thousands of demonstrators from all over the world marched to demand “climate justice”.

In the statement, Al Jaber and Stiell jointly disclosed: “As the work to prepare for a successful COP28 gathers momentum, we want to express our commitment to making COP28 an inclusive and safe space for all participants.

“Recognising the global nature of the climate emergency and its varying impacts across communities and societies, we want to emphasise the crucial importance of an inclusive, transparent, and respectful setting for all participants to engage in the COP process.

“In line with UNFCCC guidelines and adherence to international human rights norms and principles, there will be space available for climate activists to assemble peacefully and make their voices heard.

“We are committed to upholding the rights of all participants and to ensuring that everyone’s perspectives are heard and their contributions to the climate challenge are recognized.

“We will work together to make COP28 the most inclusive UN Climate Change Conference to date,” it stated.

By Dare Akogun

Dare Akogun

Dare Akogun is a dynamic media innovator, strategic communication professional, and seasoned climate and environmental sustainability journalist with over 10 years of influential contributions to the media industry.

He Currently serving as the Head of Digital Media, Senior News Editor, and a presenter at Sobi FM 101.9, a leading radio station in Ilorin, Nigeria.

Dare is on a mission to leverage his media innovation expertise and project management skills to produce high-quality, accurate, and engaging content, while advocating for reduced fossil fuel consumption, especially coal, to combat effect of global warming.

He has covered comprehensively environmental issues and COP conferences, including COP28 in Dubai last year , COP 27 in Egypt, and the United Nations Least Developed Countries conference in Doha, in 2023.

He is a recipient of fellowship to be part of a 15 team of journalists selected worldwide to cover the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2024.

He has a Master's Degree in Mass Communication, from the University of Lagos, a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the Lagos State University and also a
Certification in Business Administration and Management, from the Babson College, Massachusetts, United States of America.

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