The latest draft outcome text of COP26 released this morning fails the acid test of whether Glasgow will be a success by containing woefully insufficient commitments on fossil fuels, say civil society groups. This clearly shows that the fossil fuel industry has had a hand in weakening the draft text overnight, they add.
As they negotiate the final text, countries must ensure there is additional language. This should include a commitment to an equitable phase-out of oil and gas, not just coal, and to redirect all sources of financial flows, not just subsidies, towards a clean, renewable energy transition. Leaders must talk about the real causes of climate change if they are going to arrive at real solutions. Governments cannot afford to leave Glasgow with anything less in the final decision text if the world is to have a realistic chance of keeping global temperature rises within 1.5oC.
Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Destination Zero, said “Trying to stop climate change without mentioning a phase-out of all fossil fuels is like trying to stop the pandemic without mentioning the Covid-19 virus.”
Kumi Naidoo, human rights activist, added “It is not surprising we are seeing a bankrupt conversation at COP26 given the fossil fuel industry is the largest delegation. It’s like hosting an Alcoholics Anonymous conference and inviting the alcohol industry to be the biggest contributor. For those in the Global South, keeping warming to 1.5C is no guarantee of survival. All of the countries that experienced the terror and indignity of colonialism are suffering again due to climate change and failing to stand up for justice for them – people of colour – is more racism. Let’s call it as it is. Subsidies for fossil fuels are taxes. Taxes we are investing in our children and their children’s deaths. We cannot continue to play political poker with our future.”
Jean Su, Director, of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice Program, said “Shockingly, COP26 is the first time that fossil fuels have been mentioned in the text of a global climate negotiations agreement. That shows the tide is turning against the oil, gas and coal companies that knowingly caused the climate crisis and blocked solutions. But our leaders, especially President Biden, must move faster to replace oil, gas and coal with renewable energy. There’s no way to avert climate catastrophe without limiting its root cause, which is fossil fuels.”
Tessa Khan, Director, Uplift, said “From the outset, there has been an attempt by the UK government to spin Boris Johnson as a climate leader and only talk about climate actions that they deem palatable. But in the next 24 hours as governments negotiate the final decision text of COP26 and are finally focused on the root of the problem – the urgent need to keep fossil fuels in the ground – that spin is unravelling. It is beyond time that the UK presidency ensures this text includes the commitment to phase-out of oil and gas, led by wealthy countries like the UK, otherwise we won’t have a liveable climate. Boris Johnson also needs to call time on new oil and gas developments, as other countries are now doing, starting with the Cambo oil field. That’s what genuine climate action looks like.”
Carroll Muffett, President and CEO, Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), “A rushed decision on Article 6 plagued by weak rules, carryover, double-counting & no protections for human rights, will undermine ambition, blow an Exxon Valdez sized-hole in any progress toward a fossil fuel phase-out, and harm people and the planet. The latest proposed text opens the door to a Pandora’s Box of false solutions like carbon capture that will lock in new fossil infrastructure, accelerate the climate emergency, and put human rights and human lives at greater risk everywhere.”
Alex Rafalowicz, Director, Fossil Fuel Treaty, said “The language in the draft text on fossil fuels has been severely weakened. Now the wind down of coal is only for ‘unabated’ sources and the removal of subsidies for fossil fuels is restricted to ‘inefficient sources. These qualifiers completely undermine the intention. They are loopholes so large you could drive a lorry through them.”
Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network. Said “It seems some countries attending COP 26 are finally seeing what Indigenous peoples have been expressing for a long time: life as we know it is in danger and the fossil fuel industry is the source of climate change and the chaos it is creating. The continued extractive economy upsets the natural order and laws of our Mother Earth and Father Sky. The accelerating spiral of compounding climate change demands the world to keep fossil fuels in the ground. We will not wait, we will continue to fight for real solutions, real reduction, and real action that fully recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the territorial integrity of the sacredness of Mother Earth and Father Sky.”
Cansin Leylim, Associate Director of Global Campaigns, 350.org, “After more than 20 long years, the UN climate conference has finally shown a recognition that fossil fuels are at the heart of the climate crisis – but still no shared commitment was made to keep them in the ground. For decades, the climate justice movement, grassroots organizations and indigenous communities have been providing the climate leadership we have been expecting from the so-called world leaders. We are watching the conclusion text for it to mention keeping oil, coal and gas in the ground and ending all fossil fuels subsidies, which should be followed with swift implementation plans. We have been seeing what our communities go through in 1.11.5oC heating. We will not allow the ambition to fall and leave anyone behind at the mercy of scenarios that are not compliant with 1.5oC.”