Climate activists aren’t convinced that announcements made at COP26 in Glasgow (Scotland) will have any impact upon those most affected. They have asked for leaders to show a greater commitment to addressing the climate crisis.
The Conference of the Parties is an annual event in which countries (the parties), meet to discuss issues related to climate change. The first COP meeting took place in 1995.
Among the news out of the ongoing COP26 is that South Africa secured R131 billion to help it transition from coal-to-green energy.
However, climate activists are concerned that discussions about climate crisis are not yielding results.
Liz McDaid, Green Connection strategic lead, said all they had seen of the COP26 meeting was “negotiations and side deals”. She was unsure whether there would be any differences at the end in terms how the climate crisis is being addressed.
“It seems to be all about the money. So someone can make money out of climate change — that’s the deal on the table.”
She said the R131-billion that South Africa has received from “rich nations” is all loans, not grants.
“Which basically means we have to pay it back and yet, in the most part, it is the rich nations that are responsible for climate change.”
She stated that those whose lives are most affected, including those who depend on fishing, will not be better off. They face declining food security.
She believed that nothing would be changed until governments looked at how to affect people instead of just signing paper.
She asked why oil drilling continues and stressed that there is no clean coal.
McDaid warned of the negative effects of the climate crisis on future generations. He also said that those who are negotiating with McDaid will not be there to witness this.
Awande Buthelezi, a researcher at the Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre, said: “South Africa is among the leading greenhouse gas emitters in the world and the first in the continent. We want to know how Africa is going to get to a just transition.”
He said that many expected COP26 would fail, and that the only good news out of it was the financial aid South Africa had provided to the country to transition from coal.
Climate activist Dr Vishwas Sagar, Associate Professor in International Relations at Wits University was also not optimistic.
He stated that COP has always avoided dealing in systemic issues that are related to climate crisis and that it was concerning that the agreements made were not legally binding.
Satgar stated that major carbon emitters such China, the US, and South Africa had opted not to sign the pledge to phaseout all coal.
He said rich nations continued to have a bearing on the climate crisis in Africa and that countries in the global north refused to acknowledge their role in Africa’s climate crisis problems.
After three decades, world leaders had not shown any real commitment to deal with the climate crisis, he said, calling their attitude “climate imperialism”. DM/OBP