Socialist Worker

Failures at Cop26 will fuel the climate collapse

Leaders use meeting to protect their system, says Sophie Squire

Issue No. 2780

Six climate leaders sit on a panel at Cop26 in Glasgow.

Climate leaders offer no hope at Cop26 in Glasgow.


The Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow has been a washout, with world leaders failing to come up with any meaningful solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The few promises made at Cop26 aren’t enough to avoid climate disaster, despite world leaders celebrating them as victories.

According to Tory Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the promises made at Cop26 mean that “the end of coal is in sight.”

But coal pledges were much less impressive than they were presented.

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It was initially reported that 190 countries had signed a pledge to reduce coal use. But only 77 countries actually signed up.

Only ten countries have pledged to phase out coal completely.

The Cop26 conference is utterly failing to do what even world ­leaders said it should do, and come up with a plan to stop temperatures rising above 1.5 degrees.

If pledges are kept, the world is predicted to warm by 1.8 degrees according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

Cop26 has failed, but the conference will not be a failure for most in attendance. In reality, Cop26 is functioning just as it’s meant to.

It has been an opportunity for bosses to lobby governments whilst leaders delay taking any action while hiding behind insufficient promises.

Cop26 has been a conference for those in power to decide on how they maintain their destructive system.


What comes next for the climate movement?

The protests around Cop26 in Glasgow have shown that hundreds of thousands of people are angry about climate change and the politicians who do nothing about it.

They are also proof that the climate movement can still mobilise large numbers of people.

Most of the speakers at the Glasgow demonstrations on 5 and 6 November were clear, the system must change completely to fight climate change.

Others were more explicit and said capitalism must be uprooted to save the planet.

The protests also made the link between fighting climate change and fighting against oppression.

After Cop26 there will be a discussion about how to capitalise on this anger and build a stronger, larger climate movement.

The politicians, the corporations and the system they defend won’t be defeated simply by marches.

It will take more disruption and militancy than we have seen so far. Only a terrified ruling class is likely to make even the most basic concessions towards the policies needed to avert catastrophe.

Deepening the links between the climate movement and organised workers must be a priority. Workers’ action can turn off the root of profit.

The widespread support for the Glasgow refuse strikers was a positive step. But most of the trade unions still back an economy based on fossil fuels. After Cop26 we must build a big, ferocious climate revolt.


Leaders won’t keep promises

World leaders and bosses at Cop26 are keen to back new green technology.

Over 40 world leaders have committed to encouraging the development of new technology—especially low carbon technology.

For the most part, low carbon technology has been unreliable, expensive, and keeps the fossil fuel industry firmly in place.

A significant number of people present are calling for a shift to hydrogen power. There were also pledges to cut down on methane emissions and to protect woodland and rainforests from deforestation.

Governments also pledged that they would make farming greener.

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Of the over 100 countries present, just 45 countries had pledged on Monday to take action and provide investment into sustainable agriculture.

Only 26 countries made commitments to make policy changes to curb farming emissions.

Just because world leaders sign pledges, it doesn’t mean they have to follow them. These initiatives also ignore the larger, more immediate question of fossil fuels.

The priority has to be to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Some of those inside the conference have been forced to admit that the conference is failing.

Laurence Tubiana, the head of the European Climate Foundation and France’s top negotiator, panned the conference and said, “There is no mechanism for ensuring delivery, no capacity to check these claims. “That is why I say greenwashing is the new climate denial,” he added.


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