As the Glasgow climate change summit COP26 ended on Saturday 13 November, Islamic Relief has released the following statement.
The long-awaited COP has finally come to an end.
The big question is whether it should have started. Covid or otherwise, the organisation has been so poor that many, especially people from the developing countries of the global south and their representative organisations have not been able to be here.
The result has been a half-cock cop which has produced the sort of inaction that is typical of rich countries when there is no one here to keep them honest.
The Presidency hosts did not tell the UN what the deal would be, so a record number of people were invited. When the UN got here to the UK they found that the size of meetings was to be restricted, so those guests that manged to jump through the hoops of vaccination, visa and huge expense found themselves excluded from the negotiations.
Now we have the prospect of two successive COPs in the Arab world where undoubtedly the hospitality will be second to none. But 2022 and 2023 with Presidencies who have showed little diplomatic expertise and even less inclination to support radical climate action, sees the prospect of two more lost years. And we don’t have time.
This COP is not ending bad. It is ending bland.
There has been some progress on limiting heating and reducing emissions. And so there should be. The prognosis has changed from cataclysmic to calamitous.
There has been more progress in agreeing how to handle adaptation – the responsibility of countries to help people deal with the effects of the climate calamity. But there is still too little money to make it happen.
At COP we have seen the rich countries loosening the purse strings, but rapidly closing them before any money could actually be extracted. Two issues have come little further than they were two weeks ago: Addressing the cost of loss and damage caused by devastating climate events in places unable to recover; and the idea that somehow greenhouse gas pollution can be monetised.
The sticking points are largely around the notion of justice. Countries and people who have benefitted little from industrialisation over the last 200 years are paying the biggest price for the consequences.
To remedy this injustice, there needs to be a transfer of knowledge, capacity and finance from the rich to the poor. The Paris Agreement that every country signed when says as much.
But here in Glasgow we have witnessed how the rich – countries and corporations alike – will turn every which way to avoid justice.
And further, how they are willing to increase the unfairness by excluding references to people’s rights and the transparency needed to ensure that the promises made are being kept.
And again how they will continue to massively subsidise earth destroying fossil fuels.
But it was not all bad. The civil society and non-party observers here joined together on the last official day to symbolically walk through and out of the huge COP site. They join the thousands of people who have been conducting vigils and protests outside for these two weeks.
At last, the sense of urgency and emergency rang through the halls.
With them – the young, the women, the Indigenous People, the dispossessed and marginalised -marches hope.
Together we can build the future that we all need. But it must start now.