COP26 has failed to deliver on a strong timebound pathway to phase out coal and fossil fuels and highlighted the increasing inequities of climate change action.
Negotiators extended almost 24 hours beyond the conference’s last day to agree on the final draft document titled the Glasgow Climate Pact. And “agreed” is nuanced, as dozens of countries submitted intervention statements communicating deep discomfort and disappointment due to the lack of strong language for climate finance, loss and damage, fossil fuel phase out, and human rights. Our delegates felt this, too. This includes The Main 3 – what the world was calling for as a result of this COP26: loss and damage, climate finance, and closing the mitigation gap to 1.5 degrees C by 2030.
None of these were fulfilled to the extent needed. No framework for loss and damage was introduced, the climate finance pledge of $100 billion made back in 2015 remains unmet, and the agreement will not put us on track to avoid catastrophic warming beyond 1.5.
While there were major deals struck on forests, oil and gas, methane, coal, finance, and transportation, the gap between current efforts and what climate science and justice demands is still too wide. Yes, the Glasgow Climate Pact mentions coal and fossil fuels for the first time, but are we at a time when simply naming the cause of climate change is enough? No.
Currently, pledges made will get us to 2.4 degrees by the end of the century. It should be noted that an international agreement isn’t going to solve this problem, but it indicates to us all working at national/subnational levels what the work needs to be. While the language isn’t as strong as it should be, it does indicate the solutions that need to happen. We must implement aggressive decarbonization. We must center human rights, Indigenous leadership, current and future generations, and the phase out of fossil fuels. Yet, it’s up to us to make it happen where we are. It is unrealistic to rely on decision makers who are pushing for carbon markets and net zero technologies that haven’t been viably proven in efficacy.
It couldn’t be more apparent that we need civil society to come together as one voice –– and this is the work of Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). Our decision makers are not going to solve this problem unless individuals decide to join the collective and shout.
On the last day of COP, Climate Generation’s delegation joined more than 700 members of badged observer delegates from across the nine recognized constituencies of the UNFCCC for a People’s Plenary and a sanctioned march out of the COP venue. It was a beautiful, culminating moment of civil society coming together to call out the lack of accountability and historical responsibility from developed nations; from watered down language to the sheer number of fossil fuel lobbyists present at the COP, it is apparent the interests of profit have displaced the concern for people and planet.
It’s hard to write this statement – the disappointment and anger at world decisionmakers to fail to take the lead for our future sits like a rock in our stomachs. However, the work continues. It’s not enough; we are all processing this grief in our own ways, but we must also listen to the call to action. We can come together with local communities, groups, partners, families, friends, artists, land defenders and know that this grueling and emotional work is not being done alone –– and feel reassured that despite the inaccessibility of COP26, this pressure was critical for this moment and the future COPs to come.
To quote the youth activist from Kenya, Elizabeth Wahuti, let us try to lean on love rather than hope, as we may not always find hope when we need it. Our love for the people, places, moments, and humanity will always be accessible to us, and that is what we are fighting for.
For more content from Climate Generation’s Window into COP26 program, click here.