The President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, has participated in the COP28 summit on climate change currently taking place in Dubai. The president has drawn a parallel between the “genocide” in Palestine and the climate-driven exodus of Southern countries, while also criticizing the greed of the economic powers in the North, who are primarily responsible for atmospheric pollution.
Gustavo Petro made his first speech during the High-Level Segment for Heads of State at COP28 on Friday, December 1. In a powerful address, the president warned of the consequences of the climate crisis, referring to “the genocide and barbarism unleashed on the Palestinian people, which can be compared to the exodus of Southern peoples caused by the climate crisis.”
Consequences of the Exodus in the Northern Hemisphere
The Colombian head of state mentioned that the exodus caused by the climate crisis “will have consequences in the North, which we can already see in the anti-migration behaviors of rich countries and the rise of far-right movements within them.”
“Hitler is knocking on the doors of the European and North American middle-class homes, and many have already let him in. The exodus will be met with immense violence, with sheer barbarism. What we see in Gaza is a rehearsal for the future,” stated Gustavo Petro.
The Colombian President also pointed out that the consequences in the Southern Hemisphere are already visible, foreseeing their evolution. “We can already see the future: the closing of democracy, its end, and the unleashed barbarism against our people, the people who do not emit CO2, the poor peoples,” asserted the president.
Multilateralism and the International Financial System
“Today, 12% more CO2 is emitted worldwide than in 2010. This means that the wealthiest sectors of humanity have expanded their carbon consumption and therefore CO2 emissions, leading humanity and life itself to this crisis. Additionally, the Climate Fund was not financed as promised to protect non-CO2-emitting populations, namely the poor populations,” explained the Colombian President.
Gustavo Petro’s speech emphasized the resistance of developed countries to reducing fossil fuel consumption: “The capitalism of rich countries refuses to devalue the wealth based on the production and consumption of carbon; the states of rich countries cannot and do not wish to devalue their fossil capital, the capital entrenched in oil, coal, and gas,” criticized the President.
Hence, the leader’s proposal to the representations of countries convened at COP28 is to strengthen multilateralism to find solutions to the climate crisis. “Colombia has proposed overcoming the climate crisis through multilateralism, meaning international law, making COP plans binding on all parties, creating a space for global public authorities to plan the transition towards a decarbonized economy,” said Gustavo Petro in his intervention.
Similarly, the Colombian representative also insisted on his proposals to rethink the international financial system to support the poorest countries, as he had previously done in other international forums. “Colombia has proposed the restructuring of the global financial system, exchanging public debt for the issuance of special drawing rights to finance mitigation and adaptation plans for the climate crisis,” concluded the President of Colombia.
Ending the Exploitation of Oil, Gas, and Coal
Furthermore, Petro stated at the international climate forum in Dubai that Colombia had ceased signing contracts for the exploitation of oil, gas, and coal. “If the bearers of wealth in the North, intensive in carbon consumption, do not allow the emission chimneys to be turned off, that is, they do not stop consuming oil, coal, and gas, the pillars sustaining human life on the planet will irreversibly break. However, this rupture will occur unevenly. The majority of the climate victims, numbering in the billions, will be in countries that do not emit CO2 or very little,” questioned the President, who affirmed that Colombia is working toward planning a joint economic plan to halt the increase in fossil fuels globally.
Before the meeting, Colombia’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Susana Muhamad, stated that to reduce fossil fuels, Colombia believes that “a serious economic plan” by all countries is needed to gradually eliminate these fuels because “leaving a supply vacuum in Colombia would be a disaster.”
In this regard, the minister questioned the compliance with the Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce pollutant emissions by 43% before 2030. Muhamad pointed out that the planet is experiencing its warmest year in history, the first to exceed a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees.
Free Trade Agreement with Qatar
Apart from the interventions, President Petro’s day in Dubai also saw him announce that Colombia is negotiating a free trade agreement with Qatar and investments from Arab countries in Colombia, following a meeting with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the head of state of Qatar.
“I meet with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. I am seeking a free trade agreement with Qatar and a significant wave of Arab investments in Colombia,” wrote the Colombian head of state on his social media.
In 2021, Colombia exported products worth around $5 million to Qatar and imported around $17 million from that country.