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End profiteering from climate change in the MENA, rights group says

March 9, 2022 at 3:06 pm

Egyptian farmers in Qaliubia, north of Cairo, on October 23, 2006 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

International environmental organisation Friends of the Earth demanded action on climate profiteering after a damning United Nations report warned of serious consequences in the MENA region.

A report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s released last week warned that half of the world’s people are “highly vulnerable” to serious impacts from the climate crisis, a billion people in coastal areas face inundation, and close to a tenth of the world’s farmland is set to become unsuitable for agriculture.

In response, Friend’s of the Earth published ‘Cashing in on Crisis: How the world’s largest investors fuel and profit from climate change and border militarization’, which lays bare the extent to which the ‘Big 3’ asset managers  BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street have been profiting from the climate crisis.

Collectively, the groups hold around 28 per cent of the shares in Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and 27 per cent of shares in ExxonMobil – all in the list of the top 20 contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.

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Gaurav Madan, senior Forests and Land Campaigner at Friends of the Earth US, said: “As the impacts of the climate crisis intensify, institutional investors continue to hedge their bets on destructive fossil fuel and agribusiness investments while profiting from the border and surveillance industry, which enables the criminalization of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.”

“The latest IPCC report is a stark reminder that climate change will not adhere to lines drawn on maps. As momentum builds for wealthy, high-emitting countries to pay for the loss and damage caused by climate change, creating safe pathways for people to live in dignity is essential. Just as environmental movements reject the idea of sacrifice zones from environmental destruction, so too should governments and investors reject the notion of sacrificial populations.”

Nick Buxton, senior researcher at Transnational Institute added: “The world’s leaders are not just failing to act to stop the climate crisis, they are  actively financing  its destruction. The recent IPCC report shows that the gravitude of climate impacts will depend on political decisions and financial investments made in the next decade.”

“Yet three giant investment funds continue to finance industries that deepen rather than avert the catastrophic consequences of a heating world.  Rather than cashing in on the climate crisis, it is time for the world’s biggest financiers to divest from the industries that fuel and profit from it.”

The IPCC report also cautioned that the MENA region could face an increase in wildfires, desertification, and said that the GDP loss of around 10-13 per cent could occur as the earth’s temperature is projected to rise by 4.8C by 2100.

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It also warned that there will be significant increases in ill-health and premature death, as a result of more extreme weather and heatwaves and disease spread.

Professor Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights said: “The science is clear – without a major turnaround in carbon emissions and the way we farm, we are likely to see mass crop failures and food system collapse – with people in poverty hit first and hardest by a crisis they did not cause.“

“Transforming agriculture is now urgent – governments must act to support local communities’ efforts to feed themselves and encourage resilience through diversity, not uniformity.”