COP26: Campaigners accuse UN talks of failing climate as they hold counter summit for most marginalised

The organiser of the COP26 conference in Glasgow was condemned today of failing to address the root issues of climate crisis.

Photo: COP26 Coalition/Thomas Hermann

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was found guilty of “violating its charter” because it had “forged an intimate partnership with the corporations”.

At the start of the People’s Summit for Climate Justice, the UNFCCC was also found guilty of failing to:

  • address global social and economic injustices.
  • recognise, promote and protect the rights of nature

The Sudanese diplomat, Lumumba Di Aping, said:

“The UNFCCC has allowed itself to be converted at best into a catering company for the G7, at worst into a carbon noose for the global south.”

Global Justice Now, one of the summit’s organisers, said:

“There’s one technology that the UNFCCC has an unwavering faith in – it is the market. It promotes the ponzi scheme of capitalism. The UNFCCC no longer represents us, we need to represent ourselves.”

The People’s Summit for Climate Justice, held over four days, seeks to give a voice to the most marginalised and those most badly affected by climate change.

COP26 has been described as the most exclusive of international climate talks. People have complained they have been prevented from participating because of problems including UK visa rules, expensive accommodation and lack of access to Covid-19 vaccinations. Civil society groups have said they don’t have a voice at the negotiating table.

The climate activist, Mitzi Jonelle, said today:

“Half of the world’s children live in the most high-risk countries. There’s a climate trauma that young people experience there. Yet the UNFCCC keeps us out.”

The start of the People’s Summit followed yesterday’s climate protests, which were some of the world had ever seen. It coincided today with another march through Glasgow, this time in protest at climate colonialism.

Tomorrow, world leaders begin negotiations on the text of the COP26 agreement. Boris Johnson urged negotiators: “We must all pull together and drive for the line”.

The alternative summit has 12 different venues in Glasgow, 199 events in-person and 70 online. It runs until Wednesday 10 November 2021.

The programme comprises workshops, films, exhibitions and panel discussions on issues as varied as how to sue an international fossil fuel company to how to defend the right to protest. The organisers include trades unions, climate campaigners, indigenous environmental activists and aid organisations.

The People’s Summit programme coordinator, Jana Ahlers, said:

“After a week of greenwashing, rhetoric and false solutions from the UN Climate Summit, the People’s Summit is the moment for the movement to come together and find just solutions to the climate crisis.

“We are bringing together movements from across the globe both digitally and in person to discover what climate justice really means at this critical moment, centring the voices of the most marginalised, those who are being hit hardest by climate change right now, and the people resisting and organising for change.

“The People’s Summit for Climate Justice is the real global climate talks in Glasgow.”

Ramon Mejia, national organiser of Global Justice Alliance, said:

“The People’s Summit is an opportunity for our members, frontline communities and global movements to ensure our voices are heard. We will oppose false promises like ‘net-zero’ commitments, uplift real solutions from the frontlines, and demand our governments take the aggressive action required for climate justice and to be accountable to the People and the Planet.”

Earlier today, the UN broadcast a message from the Spanish television presenter, Jesus Vazquez, a UN goodwill ambassador for refugees. He told world leaders:

“90% of refugees and 70% of persons internally displaced by conflict or persecution come from countries on the front lines of the climate emergency. They have contributed the least to climate change yet they are being hit the hardest. I’m calling on all of you to step up and prioritize the needs of these people. Time is running out. We must act now.”

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