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Climate change denial 2.0 was all over COP26. However, there was also pushback
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Climate change denial 2.0 was all over COP26. However, there was also pushback

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a podium during an event during COP26.


The COP26 summit was held in Glasgow, Scotland. incremental progress on addressing climate change. But even if countries meet their current commitments to reduce emissionsThe planet is on the right track heat up 2.4 C by the end of the century. This warming will cause the submergence of low-lying islands, coastal regions, and ultimately lead to climate catastrophes worldwide.

This is despite knowing it. remains difficult for governments to address the climate crisis. Part of the reason is the phenomenon of climate change denial, obstructionismAnd the lobbying and public relations efforts of the fossil fuel sector.

Three sociologists study the social aspects of climate change, environmental politics, and other environmental issues. David, one of us, attended the climate summit in Glasgow and the Paris conference in 2015. The most recent conference illustrates the shifts in the tactics used by climate change deniers towards what we call “climate change denial 2.0.”

Climate change denial

Climate change denial takes several forms. The “classic” form involves strategic action by organizations to challenge or spread doubtIt is true that climate change is human-caused.

Numerous analysts have shown that organized climate change denial has played an important role in shaping the present. media coverage, public opinionAnd thwarting progress on climate change policyFor the past three decades. The key players include: corporations, conservative think tanks and foundations; wealthy individuals (such Charles or David Koch), who help to fund key organizations involved in climate change denial; lobbying firmsAnd conservative media. Researchers who looked into the relationships between these groups concluded that they form a climate change denial movement network.

This network has hindered effective national climate policy, particularly in the United States. It has also contributed towards slowing efforts to address climate change within other countries, such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

According to an example, investigation by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the fossil fuel industry played a central role in crafting British Columbia’s disappointing 2016 climate change plan. In addition, key government meetings were held at the headquarters of Canada’s largest fossil fuel industry lobbying organization, where lobbyists reportedly led an effort to weaken the text.

Climate change denial 2.0

While climate denial is possible in the context domestic politics of some countries, it wouldn’t be credible in other countries. the forum of the COP process. It was time for new strategies.

Climate change denial 2.0 could be a newer term for this phenomenon. Climate change is real and dangerous, backers are not denying it. They instead undermine the need to take immediate bold action, and obstruct progress on decarbonization.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a podium during an event during COP26.
A preliminary draft of the Glasgow pact called on nations to ‘accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.’ But during the final negotiations China and India said they would agree only to ‘phase-down unabated coal.’
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

This was illustrated by a recent incident at COP26’s Nov. 4 plenary. The plenary was devoted to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report on the physical science basis for climate change, part of the Sixth Assessment report. A delegate representing India told Valérie Masson-Delmotte, the plenary speaker and the report’s lead author, that the report was too gloomy. He said India had previously requested that a section on mitigation be removed, as well as references to to low-probability high-risk events(such as the collapse of Antarctic Ice Sheets), and again demanded that these changes be made.

Continue reading:
Coal: why China and India aren’t the climate villains of COP26

Both the presenters and the audience found this somewhat odd. Although the IPCC reports are an important part of the COP negotiations they are independent, prior processes and are based on science, not political considerations. Nonetheless, this intervention highlights the denial 2.0 efforts.

Negotiations can be dominated by denial attempts

Often, Denial 2.0 attempts involve symbolic politics. They say the right things about climate change while nudging and redirecting climate policy to minimize the impact on the interests of fossil fuel sectors. Heading into the conference Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia were among those countries that asked the United Nations “to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels,” as a document leak reported by BBC revealed.

COP26 fossil fuel interests also had an outsized presence. There were 503 fossil fuel lobbyists accredited for the meetingsMore than the number of accredited delegate for any country. NGO representatives reported that there were about twice as many fossil fuel lobbyists present as accredited Indigenous representativesEven though Indigenous Peoples are among the most negatively affected by climate change.

A woman wearing a red jacket holds a sign that reads: Why is the fossil fuel industry inside?
Youth climate activists protest that representatives from the fossil fuel industry were allowed into the COP26 venue.
(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Push back against climate denial

The environmental movement has resisted messages of climate denial as well as efforts to expand and maintain the fossil fuel energy sector. Climate activists have been vocal supporters of a fair transition away from fossil fuels. Their tactics include: litigation, targeting business, working within the political systems, confrontational protest.

This was done in Glasgow with the Climate Strike organized by Fridays for the FutureOn Nov. 6, 25,000 people attended the, which was attended 25,000 times. Along with other groups, Fridays for Future and Youth activists were also established. the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation TreatyThis is an initiative that pushes for the rapid elimination of fossil fuels. It has been approved by 150 legislators from 30 countries, as well as by 100 Nobel Prize laureates, and several thousand scientists.

A group of people with their hands in the air. Their palms have 1.5 or an eye drawn on them in black marker.
Young people participate in Fridays for Future protests during the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021.
(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

A group co-chaired jointly by Costa Rica and Denmark launched the Beyond Oil and Gas AllianceThe alliance aims to eliminate all oil and gas production. Québec, which had recently committed to permanently banning all oil and gas exploration and extraction, joined the alliance last week.

These actions have been instrumental in shaping discourse about climate action, focusing public attention and influencing some leaders. In fact, world leaders frequently mentioned youth climate activists during their speeches at COP26.

The Glasgow climate agreement

This is the first time that COP has met in 26 years. the text of the final agreementDirectly, it mentioned fossil fuels. However, in the end, the wording was watered down to call for “the phase down of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

It appears that there was pressure from the fossil-fuel sector and countries with significant interests such as India or China to prevent the text from calling for the elimination of fossil fuels.

In denial 2.0 fashionThis clause of the Glasgow climate agreement gives the impression that climate change is being taken seriously. It also includes qualifying phrases that justify the continued use and reduction of pollution from fossil fuels.

The multilateral and consensus-based structure of the COP process makes it difficult to move beyond a lowest common denominator. Any country with a significant interest in fossil fuels can either weaken an otherwise stronger multilateral agreement or sink it.

COP26 was a win for the fossil fuel sector but a loss for the planet. And as Greta Thunberg said, it’s simply more “Blah, blah, blah.”


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