COP26: Reaction to Glasgow climate talks

DrillOrDrop has compiled reaction to the results of COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.

Photo: Livestream

What COP26 achieved and what does it mean

“Blah, blah, blah”

Greta Thunberg said:

“Here’s a brief summary: blah, blah, blah.”

“Nations came together”

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, said countries had come together.

“Won’t prevent destruction”

Vanessa Nakate, activist from Uganda with Fridays for Future

“Even if leaders stuck to the promises they have made here in Glasgow, it would not prevent the destruction of communities like mine. Right now, at 1.2 degrees Celsius of global warming, drought and flooding are killing people in Uganda.

Only immediate, drastic emissions cuts will give us hope of safety, and world leaders have failed to rise to the moment. But people are joining our movement. 100,000 people from all different backgrounds came to the streets in Glasgow during COP, and the pressure for change is building.”

“Move faster away from fossil fuels”

Former US vice-president, Al Gore, said:

“The Glasgow Climate Pact and the pledges made at COP 26 move the global community forward in our urgent work to address the climate crisis and limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, but we know this progress, while meaningful, is not enough. We must move faster to deliver a just transition away from fossil fuels and toward a cleaner and more equitable future for our planet.”

“Meek, weak and 1.5C is only just alive”

Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International, said:

“It’s meek, it’s weak and the 1.5C goal is only just alive, but a signal has been sent that the era of coal is ending. And that matters.

“Glasgow was meant to deliver on firmly closing the gap to 1.5C and that didn’t happen, but in 2022 nations will now have to come back with stronger targets. The only reason we got what we did is because young people, Indigenous leaders, activists and countries on the climate frontline forced concessions that were grudgingly given.

“The line on phasing out unabated coal and fossil fuel subsidies is weak and compromised but its very existence is nevertheless a breakthrough, and the focus on a just transition is essential. The call for emissions reductions of 45% by the end of this decade is in line with what we need to do to stay under 1.5C and brings the science firmly into this deal. But it needs to be implemented.  

“The offsets scam got a boost in Glasgow with the creation of new loopholes that are too big to tolerate, endangering nature, Indigenous Peoples and the 1.5C goal itself. The UN Secretary General announced that a group of experts will bring vital scrutiny to offset markets, but much work still needs to be done to stop the greenwashing, cheating and loopholes giving big emitters and corporations a pass.”

“Agreement didn’t recognise extreme nature of crisis”

Sir David King, former UK chief scientific advisor, said there were real advances at COP26. But he said:

“there was no real understanding in the agreement of the extreme nature of the crisis. How do we, the current generation, ensure a manageable future for humanity? The threat to all of us from the loss of polar summer sea ice over the Arctic Ocean is a clear signal of the disaster from rising sea level, severe extreme weather events and high temperatures; but it was not addressed in any way.

“This was the meeting when the end of coal, oil and gas should have been set in place, in an orderly, efficient and fair way. The power of the USA oil and gas lobby meant that the USA was unable, once again, to show clear leadership on this critical issue.

“Countries and their leadership, fossil fuel industry lobbies, and private companies must all be held accountable for not only failing to follow up on promises made at the meeting but also for the loss of life and damage to our ecosystems that follow from their actions. National and international lawyers have a critically important role to play in managing this accountability.”

He said next year’s meeting in Egypt must set in place the “rapid phase out of fossil fuels and deforestation”. Developed economies must also take on responsibility to fund the removal of excess greenhouse gases at scale from the atmosphere, aimed at bringing the level down to 350 ppm CO2 equivalent.


“Road to 1.5C just got harder”

Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“The road to 1.5 just got harder when these talks should have cleared the way to making it a whole lot easier.

“The UK government cunningly curated announcements throughout this fortnight so that it seemed rapid progress was being made. Here we are though, and the Glasgow get-out clause means that leaders failed to phase out fossil fuels and the richest countries won’t pay historic climate debt.

“With the COP moment over, countries should break away from the pack in their race for meaningful climate action and let history judge the laggards. The UK, as a country with huge historical responsibility for emissions, can end support for a mega gas project in Mozambique, pull the plug on the Cambo oil field, stop the new coal mine in Cumbria and drilling for oil in Surrey. After all the Prime Minister talked a big game at the beginning of the fortnight.”

“Historic failure”

Mary Church, head of campaigns, Friends of the Earth Scotland:

“COP26 will be remembered as a historic failure to close the gap on 1.5oC, where rich nations shamelessly shirked their responsibility to clean up the mess that they created.

“Countries including the UK, the US and the EU are failing to cut climate pollution fast enough, failing to deliver the finance they owe countries already bearing the brunt of climate breakdown, and instead spending their energy inventing loopholes and get out clauses to avoid taking action.

“Despite this, we leave COP26 with real hope in our hearts, because people all over the world are rising up to demand climate justice in greater strength and unity than ever before.

“We’ve come together here in Glasgow as a powerful and diverse movement that recognises the root cause of the climate crisis is an economic system which is also driving multiple other injustices we are struggling against – poverty, racism, sexisim, nature destruction to name but a few.

“We are rising up against this system that prioritises profit over people, and we will not give up until we have created the better world we know is possible.”

“Time to go into emergency mode”

“Hollowed-out” agreement

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:

“In the last fortnight, the climate justice movement that came out in force in Glasgow and around the world became mainstream. We showed that you can’t tackle climate change without a radical transformation of the global economy and reparations from those who fuelled climate change to those facing its worst impacts. But this hollowed-out agreement shows that, for all the lip service they paid, world leaders and big business have not listened.

“From the very start, the UK presidency set this summit up for failure. A sanitised COP, captured by corporate interests and inaccessible to the global south, was never going to adequately or equitably respond to the climate crisis.

“Despite pledging to make ‘cash’ one of its key priorities, the British government has refused to stump up its fair share of climate finance, failed to push rich allies to achieve the inadequate target of $100 billion, and colluded to block proposals for loss and damage compensation for climate-vulnerable countries. Island and coastal communities are drowning – and we’ve simply averted our eyes.

“What little progress there has been, like pledges to phase out coal, hang by a thread because the UNFCCC refuses to look at how the global trade system reinforces the fossil fuel economy. As soon as countries start enacting these pledges, fossil fuel companies can sue for huge sums under trade agreements like the Energy Charter Treaty.

“This agreement would have been an important document 20 years ago, but we are well past this stage now. We don’t have time for baby steps towards climate action. 1.5 degrees may not yet be dead, but it is on life support. The next COP must be a reckoning for the fossil fuel industry and the rich countries that caused the climate crisis. Anything less will consign us to devastation.”

“Coal deal was a real blow”

Photo: Livestream

Tina Stege, delegate for the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, said the last minute change to wording on coal was “a real blow”. She said:

“We had already swallowed changes that were already difficult to swallow.

“We fought really hard for other elements of the package.”

She said it was a deep disappointment to swallow. We weren’t in the room when the wording change was agreed, she said.

“This is where we are. We do have a package that has a doubling of adaptation finance, which small islands coalition brought to the table. They are really important pieces we could not afford to lose.

“We fought a good fight and we are going to live to fight another day. As a small island nation I can be deeply proud. It is a package that helps to keep 1.5 within reach.”

“Not in line with urgency and scale required”

Shauna Aminath, Maldives environment minister, said:

“The Maldives notes the incremental progress made in Glasgow that’s not in line with the urgency and scale required. What is balanced and pragmatic to other parties will not help the Maldives adapt in time. For some, loss and damage may be the beginning of conversation and dialogue, but for us this is a matter of survival.

So while we recognise the foundations that this outcome provides, it does not bring hope to our hearts, but serves as yet another conversation where we put our homes on the line, while those who have other options decide how quickly they want to act to save those who don’t.

We have heard that the technology is available. We know trillions are spent on fossil fuels. So we know that this is not about the lack of either of them. We have 98 months to halve global emissions. The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is a death sentence for us.”

“Leaders chose to sign a death warrant”

“Agreement worth having”

The former UK climate envoy, John Ashton, said he completely understood the anger and disappointment of vulnerable nations.

” I think the outcome of the loss and damage mechanism is well below what anyone can be proud of.

“I think it is very hard to look at a phrase like ‘inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’ or ‘phase down coal’ and convince people on the outside of the tent that they are anything but ‘bla, bla, bla.”

But he said the agrement was worth having.

“It may not be salvation but it may be just a lifeline. There is still a llittle bit of time to ratchet up ambition to get at what’s needed.

He said there was a big climate gap between emission reduction actions and what was needed and a gap between the developed and climate-vulnerable nations.

“Moved the dial”

Richard Black, research fellow , Imperial College

“This summit has definitely moved the dial on several aspects of climate change – governments have taken steps to improve the lot of the most vulnerable nations, the missing pages of the Paris Agreement rulebook have been filled in, and governments that are marking time on emissions reduction are requested to come back next year with a more serious offer.

“Above all, for the first time all governments formally agreed that phasing out coal is essential to combatting climate change and that fossil fuel subsidies should go as well. They didn’t all want to, but reality is sometimes impossible to wish away. Some will have been looking to COP26 to solve climate change, but no summit could ever do that. It has done enough, however, to keep the 1.5°C target in play – but individual governments have a lot of work to do quickly to turn pledges into action.”

Poorer nations “kicked to the curb”

COP26 Coalition spokesperson, Asad Rehman, said:

“We are frustrated and angry that another COP has further entrenched the injustices causing misery for millions around the world, while shoring up the profits of corporations and rich countries.

“The UK was tasked with the 1.5 COP, but what they’ve delivered is the 2.5c COP. More interested in pruning their feathers with press releases and announcements, they’ve failed to do their job.

“We needed rich countries to step up and finally do their fair share of climate action, while providing compensation for the destruction to lives and livelihoods already being caused by climate change in countries who have done least to create this crisis.

“Instead, the needs of poorer countries have been kicked to the curb, in favour of keeping the hugely over represented fossil fuel lobbyists happy.

“Rich countries have tried to make it look as if they care about climate change – but it is clear that they plan to continue polluting with impunity, sacrificing the poorest as they do so. The oil and gas industry, once again, is off the hook and leaves COP26 laughing all the way to the bank.

“Developing countries, already overwhelmed by the Covid crisis, inequality and a spirally debt crisis, desperately needed huge increases in financial support to deal with the impacts of climate change, and compensation for the damage already done. Yet rich countries flatly refused to put hard cash on the table, offering a pitiful advice helpline instead.

“At COP26, the richest got what they came here for, and the poorest leave with nothing.”

“A lot more to do”

Laurence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation, said:

“Paris is working. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, we have accelerated action, the COP has responded to the IPCC’s call to close the gap towards 1.5, and coal is in the text. But there is a lot more to do.

“The commitments and claims of the first week on finance, forests, end of public finance for fossil fuel, methane and cars must now be translated into real policy and incorporated in the new NDCs that has to be delivered by 2022. And Oil and gas production still to be addressed.

“Greenwashing is the new climate denial, and we have seen too much at play in this COP. We must strengthen accountability mechanisms for net-zero going forward. We see through the discussions in Glasgow that the international finance system is not fit for the challenge and is unable to respond to the call of Mia Mottley, PM of Barbados. It needs to be fixed by world leaders now.

“And we must address the impacts of the climate crisis on the most vulnerable. This COP has failed to provide immediate assistance for people suffering now. I welcome the doubling of adaptation finance as climate impacts are every year stronger, loss and damage must be at the top of the agenda for COP 27.”

 “Tools to avoid double-counting”

Kelly Kizzieri, VP of Global Climate, Environmental Defense Fund:

“The agreed Article 6 rules, while not perfect, give countries the tools they need for environmental integrity, to avoid double counting and ultimately to clear a path to get private capital flowing to developing countries. The carbon market rules allow countries to focus their efforts on ambitious implementation of their emission-cutting targets.  

Today’s agreement on Article 6 provides the rules necessary for a robust, transparent and accountable carbon market to promote more and faster climate ambition and create a further avenue for finance flows from developed to developing countries. 

The decision eliminates double counting for compliance markets and establishes a strong framework to ensure appropriate accounting for voluntary carbon markets that also supports emission reductions in countries hosting carbon market activities. The carry over of credits left over from the Clean Development Mechanism is not fully restricted with some 120 million tonnes carried forward, but their use is restricted to the first cycle of national commitments.“

“Failed on desperately needed changes”

Luisa Neubauer, activist from Germany, Fridays for Future

“We are not facing some interesting diplomatic puzzle, we are facing a climate catastrophe. This COP failed to introduce the systemic changes we so desperately need. Heads of State have not delivered what we demand, but the climate movement is growing and more people are coming on board. When we say “1.5 is not negotiable”, we mean it.”

We’ll update with new reaction as we get it.

DrillOrDrop’s reporting from COP26 was made possible by donations from individual readers

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18 replies »

  1. Thank you for this summary. I also thank the people of Blockade Australia who are trying to stop the coal trains, and exploitation that steals
    wealth and ultimately life. Every government must be pressured to take emergency action to reduce fossil fuel extraction and use, while channeling support to those who near the brunt. A just transition is essential, and the wealthy must give up their privilege.

  2. It’s hard not to sympathize with Greta Thunberg’s verdict, The FF industry will still be able to green-wash gullible or interested parties into allowing oil and gas exploration and exploitation under the mendacious banner of a necessary pathway to the FF future. The immediate needs of sinking island or low-lying peoples are still sacrificed to the mendacious promise of a better future – lives for cash. The central position of agriculture in mitigation and adaptation is neglected. The dependence of the developing world on our world developed at their expense gets little recognition in terms of debt relief or adequate compensation. The horrifying truth underlying the document does not blaze through in the language used therein, “meek and weak” enough to fail to motivate the intentionally ignorant and apathetic amongst us, “meek and weak” enough to hearten those who would exploit us..
    And yet we have witnessed moments of great courage and beauty. Hope is not dead: 1.5 is still, just, alive. Those thus enabled and ennobled must now motivate their governments to decisive and meaningful action through the regulation and legislation during 2021 and 2022 which will give courage to all in the run up to COP27 next year. Our government can do it if we want them to, telling them and showing them. Let us start in the UK with abandoning the insanity and inanity residing in the exploitation of new oil fields and coal mines: let us consign fracking licences to the cesspool of history, one from which (some of) us have benefited but most of us now suffer, some more than others. Let us talk to our MPs: let us demonstrate; don’t let the ink dry on this document.
    Let us thank Alok Sharma for rescuing COP26.

  3. Guterras’ comment ‘The #COP26 outcome is a compromise, reflecting the interests, contradictions & state of political will in the world today.’ summed it up for me.
    A massive contingent of extremely well paid, mainly middle aged or elderly people, many with vested interests, emitting a vast amount of CO2 by travelling to Glasgow to kick the can down a road that is exceedingly short and with a drop off a cliff at the end of it.
    I have long seen climate change action as a ground up movement. There has been little or nothing for decades from those at the top who have skin in the game of power and wealth – politicians and senior executives. They will only act as the pressure continues to grow from below, sufficiently to threaten their assets, power bases and/or votes. It’s happening, but almost certainly with insufficient alacrity. Still, nice junket to Egypt for them to look forward to.

  4. Lots of progress. Lots more jollies for thousands to attend. Lots more for a lot more academics to get grants for. Lots more situations like E10 petrol to become apparent to the consumer, with impacts to their transport costs and food costs for instance. (Interesting that on the Gov. web site there is reference to a valuable feed for animals as a by product. Nope. Take feed wheat, process it for fuel and the product left is of less value for feed than the feed wheat you started with! Last time I did the calculations, the volume of wheat to be processed equated to all of the surplus wheat that would be produced during a bumper harvest, previously exported. So, please explain what happens in most years where a bumper harvest is not achieved, and please explain how that does not conflict with demands for less focus upon crop yields?) The answer is simple. Dearer transport costs and dearer food.

    Compromise? Of course. Get more than one person attending and there has to be compromise. For those who don’t want to understand that it would suggest they are more interested in themselves than progress. And that applies not only to the massive contingent but also to those looking in, many of whom also had different agendas and expectations.

    Perhaps there will be more of the little or nothing for decades, or perhaps it will be evident for those who want to look there has already been quite a lot for decades. Maybe there also needs to be less of the something that has masqueraded for decades as solutions and then found to be pie in the sky, seeking to make some get some skin in the game of power and wealth? (Worked out well for some, not so much for others.)

  5. Kwasi Kwarteng
    Welcome news @Shell is proposing to relocate its Group HQ to the United Kingdom as part of their plans to accelerate the transition to clean energy. A clear vote of confidence in the British economy as we work to strengthen competitiveness, attract investment and create jobs 🇬🇧

    Good news for UK.

    • And this is why Royal Dutch Shell has dropped the “Royal Dutch” bit, and is moving their headquarters to UK: Rishi Sunak pledges 130% tax “gift” from the UK tax payer, to fossil fuel corporations. So not only do Shell get 100% tax relief on their investments in fossil fuel greenwashing. But the tax payer has been committed to pay these multi $/£billion corporations a further 30% “gift” from the UK tax payer on top…..

      Shell moves HQ to London and ditches dual share structure

      Shell: Dutch government angered over HQ move to UK

      UK Budget announces green funding schemes for energy transition
      03 Mar 2021

      COP26: Go green to earn your City bonuses

      Wait, theres more…..

      • Finance coalitions set to provide an almost fantasy figure of $130 trillion to put climate change at the forefront of financial centres. Yes that really is correct: $130 trillion towards “putting climate change at the “heart” of finance (was there ever a contradiction in terms greater that that?) Think of the double triple and quadruple dealing and endlessly convoluted non declaration off shore tax haven “shell” trusts could play with that trillion dollar “greenwashfall”? They must have practically wet themselves with laughter?

        COP26 coalition worth $130 trillion vows to put climate at heart of finance

        COP26: Rishi Sunak unveils commitment from companies managing $130 trillion to fight climate change

        COP26: Mark Carney declares a ‘watershed’ moment as $130tn committed to hitting net zero

        Finance firms managing US$130 trillion join net-zero pledge at COP26

        With incentives like that, even the most heartless fossil fuel exploiters, polluters and ecocidal and environmental eradicators would change their name and desperately trip over each other to get to The City of London and exploit that free resource of the tax payers wallets?

        Now do you see what COP26 was all about? Perhaps Shell (formerly know as Royal Dutch Shell) could rename themselves Royal Frack The Taxpayer Shell?

        Have a nice day….

        [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

          • Personally I would prefer Shell & BP etc. to transition from oil and gas into renewables etc, and of course, they will do it on a significantly larger scale and faster than any existing renewables company, with the added bonus of huge R & D departments and funding. The transition won’t happen without them, or the nasty banks…….

          • Thanks Paul.

            Apparently there are also recent moves in The Netherlands that may have triggered “Royal Dutch Shell” to change its name and move its headquarters to UK. In addition to the very apparent financial 130% tax relief incentives ripped unceremoniously out of the UK tax payers rapidly diminishing pockets and delivered unaccountably and undemocratically straight into “Shell”s vastly capacious greedy pockets. Not forgetting of course, the $130 trillion available to finance their green-washing efforts.

            Shell: Dutch government angered over HQ move to UK

            “Why is Shell moving its headquarters?”

            “Shell’s plans to relocate follow a number of major blows to the company in the Netherlands. The move is being considered a win for Brexit-hit London.”

            “In April, a Dutch court ordered that the major carbon emitter must reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030 in what was seen as a big win for climate activists.”

            “The country’s largest pension fund also announced that it was ending its investments in fossil fuel companies in October.”

            Perhaps it would be an opportune moment to enquire as to whether in “Royal Dutch Shell’s” name to “Shell” had a more obvious trigger? Following

            “a Dutch court ordered that the major carbon emitter must reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030 in what was seen as a big win for climate activists.”

            Would the order to reduce “Royal Dutch Shell” emissions by 45% by 2030, no longer be legally enforceable due to the change of name of the corporation? COP26 thanks to Rishi Sunak and our “green government” certainly did nothing to even approach that. Quite the opposite by all accounts.

            So is that another incentive to change their name and move their headquarters to the UK, who are much more amenable and compliant? Or just a weird co-incidence?

            There is a saying that “There is no such thing as a coincidence in this world”.

            Fascinating isn’t it? Curiouser and Curiouser in fact.

            • Perhaps Shell are just trying to streamline and simplify both their business and share models, with the aim of achieving the same benefits reaped by Unilever, who completed exactly the same actions last year?

              • Perhaps, John, but you have to agree that the no-longer-favourable environment in Holland and Shell’s timely withdrawal constitute circumstances which we are right to draw attention to given the ghastly history of manipulation by the FF industry. Perhaps they will prove their accusers wrong: let’s hope so. A presumption of guilt has however been earned by this industry.

                • They are only moving their HQ and simplifying their share structure to a single line. They are not withdrawing or ceasing from operating production or retail facilities in Holland. So nothing different from the actions of Unilever last year.
                  Neither does the move impact the climate ruling issued by the District Court in The Hague in May 2021 or any other legal proceedings currently in progress, due to the decisions and proceedings applying regardless of the tax residence location.

                • Thanks, John, for that reality check.

                  What is often missed is how easy it is for international companies to relocate HQs as and when they find a better environment. It was also recently done by Tesla, moving to Texas. There is no obligation for any company to be head quartered in a certain place, although operations may require they are in a particular location eg. Rotterdam.

                  Maybe they prefer British footy?

  6. We can now assert our new found sovereignty in the protection of fossil fuels. This is a real Brexit plus. Of course we won’t have to face the ire of the ECJ: yet another plus.
    Unfortunately our own courts are not yet completely sewn up.

  7. Oh dear. So many conspiracies.
    Meanwhile, Holland were silly and lost out. The electorate in Holland are not that keen on the EU. Not a good combination.
    [Edited by moderator]

  8. Indeed, imagine being silly enough to demand GHG reductions and to stop investment in fossil fuels. Where on earth is the lucrative short term gain to be had by stopping kicking the can down the road?

    • Shell will be part of the solution wherever there HQ is. Hopefully they can help get us out of this self inflicted mess:

      Wholesale energy prices hit the second highest level in at least three years on Monday, adding pressure on suppliers struggling to secure electricity and gas at competitive rates.

      Low wind speeds were to blame for pushing wholesale energy prices for the peak period between 5pm and 6pm over £2,000 per megawatt hour, only the second time they have surpassed this level since 2018.

      The UK’s power grid was forced to turn to gas-fired power plants and coal to make up for the lack of wind power generation, a problem that has exacerbated the energy price crisis that started in August.

      The price surge on Monday was still below the levels reached in mid-September, when they hit £2,500 per MWh. The record wholesale prices have forced almost 20 energy suppliers to go bust since the start of September, , with more failures expected in the coming weeks.

      “The very high wholesale prices have caused significant distress even before winter begins,” said Anna Moss, head of consumer markets at Cornwall Insight, which compiled the data. “How suppliers fare is in the hands of wholesale trading parties, and how suppliers can manage their costs through the winter months ahead.”

      On Monday, gas-fired power plants were producing nearly 55% of electricity needs, up from a more typical level of 40%, while the rapidly disappearing coal sector accounted for about 3%.

      Wind farms accounted for just 4%, a fraction of the average of 21% supplied over the last year, according to data from the Drax Electric Insights website.

      In August, National Grid, which manages the UK’s electricity grid, was forced to break a 55-day coal-free power generation streak as the summer heatwave becalmed wind turbines. It was forced to turn to coal stations, the last of which the government has said it intends to close by the end of September 2024, to plug the power generation shortfall from wind turbines.

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