Fossil Fuel Phase-Out and Climate Finance Inequality

IEN’s Press conference at Cop28 on November 30, 2023; Defending the Sacred: Indigenous Peoples against False Solutions and Article 6

December 4, 2023


Written by: Tom BK Goldtooth (Diné/Dakota), Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network

The climate crisis demands a rapid transition for a binding global phaseout of fossil fuels and all extraction and production at source. Climate change is a matter of life and death for us, as Indigenous Peoples – in all regions of Mother Earth.

A fast, fair, and funded fossil fuel phaseout must prioritize a just transition for impacted communities on the frontlines where fossil fuel financing continues to exacerbate inequalities and result in human rights abuses, particularly in the lands and territories of our Indigenous Peoples – from the South to the North. Indigenous Peoples impacted by climate change require direct Indigenous-led funding.

As a coalition of six other organizations, we released the April 2023 Banking on Climate Chaos report with findings that fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 largest banks has reached USD $5.5 trillion in the seven years since the Paris Agreement, with $669 billion in fossil fuel financing in 2022 alone. We have to stop business-as-usual.

I cannot talk about the fossil fuel phaseout without talking about the UN, the World Bank and other multilateral development banks being colonial institutions whose work reproduces colonial legacies of dispossession and inequality. The relationship here is still one of extraction – institutions engaging in climate finance, mitigation, adaptation finance, loss and damage and the banks choose projects based on their ability to generate profit and maximize private sector involvement. Climate change is simply treated as the newest arena for capitalism, financial expansion and development, once again entrenching the dynamic of exploitation and violence from the Global North under the guise of helping the Global South and developing countries. This is history repeating itself – it is the same development paradigm that contributed to the climate crisis in the first place, this time with even less accountability but a greener image.

Climate finance and funding mechanisms do nothing to address the root cause of climate change. They do not reduce emissions at source nor keep fossil fuels in the ground. There is no accountability mechanism led by Indigenous Peoples and other local and frontline communities to ensure that projects in fact address climate change.

Our fight for dignity demands these mitigation issues couched within Article 6 of the Paris Agreement to be looked at from an environmental, economic and social justice perspective and rights-based approach, not perpetuating false solutions like “abated” fossil fuels, carbon markets, offsets, carbon pricing, carbon dioxide removals, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, nuclear or many other misguided and dangerous geoengineering technologies such as the emerging push for solar radiation modification.

With the risks and uncertainties of carbon capture and storage and carbon dioxide removal technologies, and the privatization and commodification of carbon trading regimes, Mother Earth and Father Sky do not need more climate false solutions that divert attention away from the crucial work of stopping the ongoing colonial and capitalist frameworks that are embedded within the UNFCCC. We only have one Mother Earth, let’s protect her. 


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