The Cop26 Coalition, a coalition of organisations campaigning for urgent action on the climate crisis, has criticised the UK government’s Climate Ambition Summit held on December 12, 2020 for failing to scale up to the climate challenge ahead.
Since governments signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, carbon emissions have steadily risen whilst at the same time the globe has faced an unprecedented wave of climate impacts, according to the coalition. Floods, drought, hurricanes, storms, and mega-fires have destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods.
The coalition said: “The UK Government is using this Summit as an opportunity to pass off-targets which put us on track for 3 to 5 degrees warming as ‘ambitious’. The science is clear, the UK aiming for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 is a death sentence for millions, hitting the poor, the working classes, and people of colour first. We need real, transformative action rooted in climate justice now.”
The coalition is calling on world leaders to ensure that global temperature rises do not exceed 1.5℃, the threshold that climate scientists say we should not cross. Over the coming 12 months in the run-up to the Glasgow climate summit in November 2021, hundreds of organizations are pledging to bring people together to take action and build pressure to reduce emissions and build a just recovery from the twin threats of climate breakdown and COVID-19.
The Cop26 Coalition is part of a growing movement of people both in the UK and globally who are sending a message to the UK Govt and others.
“Those that lack the political will to act will be held accountable for the crisis they are fuelling,” said the group.
Sonia Guajajara, Executive Coordinator of the APIB (Coalition of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) who works to defend the rights of indigenous peoples across Brazil, said: “We, the indigenous people, are five percent of the global population. This means that, on average, there are five million indigenous people in the world. This five percent protects 82% of the biodiversity that still exists.
“Therefore, it is necessary that the governments acknowledge the Paris Agreement not only as a treaty but as something that needs to be implemented urgently and to use the traditional knowledge of the indigenous peoples as one of the last alternatives to contain climate change, to slow down global warming.”
Mitzi Jonelle Tan, an organiser with Fridays for Future International and the co-founder of the youth climate strike group of the Philippines: “I am afraid of drowning in my own bedroom. My country has been hit by typhoon after typhoon, crisis after crisis, and how do our leaders respond? By patronising us, belittling us, silencing us, pushing us down.
“The youth of every nation have seen the injustices and the oppression of the past five years. We are fed up with broken promises and empty words. We are sick of agreements that are celebrated but go nowhere. World leaders better brace themselves, because we demand justice.”
Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigade Union: “From Wildfires in Australia and California, to mass flooding in the UK, and the endless barrage of climate-fuelled extreme weather in the Global South, it’s firefighters on the frontline dealing with the consequences of environmental destruction.
“We need a worker-led transformation that delivers for the communities bearing the brunt of the climate emergency – and that funds the emergency services battling with the consequences. The UK’s ruling disaster capitalists cannot be trusted to save us. We need a socialist green new deal with workers at its heart.”
Brandon Wu, Director of Policy & Campaigns for ActionAid USA: “It’s hard to talk about climate negotiations without mentioning the elephant in the room, the biggest historical polluter on the planet: the United States. The U.S. looks set to re-enter the Paris Agreement early next year. But what can we really expect from the U.S. moving forward?
“As the pandemic has shown horribly clearly, the United States is a society that is deeply allergic to public investments to solve large-scale problems, especially global ones. We have to find a way to shift from this awful reality to a future in which the U.S. radically transforms itself and builds a more just society, which includes doing our full fair share of climate action. That means drastic emissions cuts within a Green New Deal-style package, and massively scaled-up international support for developing countries.”
Meena Raman, Head of Programmes and Legal Advisor to the Third World Network and an expert in climate change negotiations: “The current climate contributions under the Paris Agreement will take us to a 3-5 C degree world. The very low ambition of rich countries, in particular, is unacceptable, given how far away they are from their fairshares in reducing emissions within a limited carbon budget.
“With a history and litany of broken promises by the rich world in meeting their climate obligations under the Climate Convention, any gathering to celebrate the Paris moment rings hollow, and smacks of yet another event to pull wool over the eyes of the public. The real truth has been a gross lack of ambition on the part of rich countries, not only on emissions reductions but also in not enabling adequate adaptation, addressing loss and damage due to climate impacts in poor developing countries as well as in the provision of real climate finance which is up to scale and speed to meet the climate emergency.”
Tzeporah Berman, International Programme Director Stand.Earth and Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty: “What we now know is that continued expansion of oil, gas and coal threatens our ability to meet Paris goals. The world is now on track to produce 120% more fossil fuels than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5C.
“Greater international cooperation is critical to ending the expansion of fossil fuels and a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty will provide a framework to do this fast, fairly, and forever. No city, country or company can stop the expansion of oil, gas, or coal alone, and neither can we just depend on the markets to keep the world safe.”
Mary Church, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland: “Hosting COP26 should be about the UK Government starting to take the climate emergency seriously. But a series of recent announcements show that the Government is more interested in holding a jamboree than actually playing its part in averting climate breakdown. From the widely panned 10-point plan to the new 2030 target and cuts to aid budgets, the UK Government is falling far short of its fair share of global climate action.
“What’s needed is a robust and properly financed plan to bring emissions down sharply over the next decade, securing a just transition for workers and communities, and ensuring a green recovery from COVID-19 at the same time. Internationally, instead of cutting overseas aid the UK Government should be ramping up support to countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis who have done least to cause it, and crucially, stopping financing dirty, human rights trashing fossil fuel projects overseas.”
May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org: “In 2021, it’s time to make fossil fuels history by cutting off their lifeline — money. Instead of funding the big polluters that destroy our climate, money needs to flow into solutions that benefit people, not fossil fuel CEOs and their shareholders. In the midst of a health and economic emergency, in a world that needs a just recovery from the pandemic, that money must be invested in healthier and more equitable jobs, community-controlled renewable energy, climate-resilient public transit & housing, and care and repair for communities most impacted.
“From now until the next UN climate gathering, we will come together to pressure some of the world’s dirtiest and most powerful banks and governments to stop funding the climate crisis.”