Critics of decades-long inaction on global warming voiced deep doubt as world leaders gathered at Glasgow to make crucial deals to immediately reverse the growing climate crisis.
Many activists question whether developed countries will finally move to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and the major corporations responsible for them, and if rich nations – solely responsible for the crisis – will financially support poorer ones in the transformation away from fossil fuels.
Scientists agree the COP26 summitGlasgow, Scotland is likely to be the last chance for serious measures to prevent the most devastating scenarios on the planet. As temperatures continue to rise, extreme weather events are becoming the norm.
Bangladesh, a South Asian country of 165 million, is ranked seventh in the world for climate disasters. Spiking temperatures will only make matters worse.
As rising seas envelope the low-elevation country, mass migration from coastal areas to urban centres in the inland is already taking place. 30 million people becoming “climate refugees” in the coming decades.
In 2009, the developed countries agreed to contribute $100bn per year to help developing nations deal with climate change and transform their energy systems. However, rich countries have not kept their promises, with pledges expected fall short of $75bn between 2020-25.
‘Sense of responsibility’
Fariha Aumi, deputy coordinator for Fridays For Future-Bangladesh from Jamalpur in the country’s north, told Al Jazeera decades of feet-dragging by world leaders has left her sceptical about the outcome of COP26.
“We will be looking forward to the excuses the developed countries will make, and are hoping to throw some good questions about the [climate] mitigation of our country,” Aumi, a 22-year-old medical student, said.
“If they [G20 leaders]If they had felt a sense of responsibility for their decisions and deeds, they would have kept the Global South in their minds and provided adequate compensation money. Neither of these is visible.”
She added previous climate summits were declared “successful” yet promises went unfulfilled.
“If they still do not understand that the ‘hidden pandemic’ is still going on, I don’t think they will take any action to stop the emissions,” said Aumi.
There are many reasons to be skeptical that world leaders will suddenly spring into action and try to do the right thing. head off “catastrophic” warming.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), formed in 1988, recently warned the planet’s average temperature will be 1.5 degrees Celsius (4.7 Fahrenheit) higher by 2030 – a decade earlier than projected just three years ago.
UK-based climate and environmental campaigner Rupert Read is another sceptic that world leaders, particular the most powerful, will take real action after more than 30 years of doing nothing to prevent the Earth’s warming through human activity.
“We’re on course for civilizational meltdown,” Read told Al Jazeera. “So the bottom line is there are no adults in the room, there is no cavalry riding to the rescue. We need to act on this together and we need to act on this without expectation that our governments are going to save us.”
191 countries agreed at the 2015 Paris climate summit to limit warming by more than 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels. Six years later, however, the world is on course for a 2.7C temperature rise by the end of the century – a level that spells catastrophe for the planet and all its inhabitants.
A rise in temperature can lead to more intense storms and floods, wildfires, and rising sea levels. As areas of the planet become more habitable, millions will be on the move.
Some critics have questioned the promotion of the term “net-zero” emissions by world leaders as the panacea to the climate crisis. Net zero refers the balance between greenhouse gas emissions and their removal from the atmosphere.
“Net zero is used by the world’s biggest polluters and governments as a façade to evade responsibility and disguise their inaction or harmful action on climate change,” said Kim Bryan from the anti-climate change organisation 350.org.
“Net zero does not mean emission reduction. We must maintain a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees below the threshold to avoid the worst consequences of climate collapse. That means reducing emissions now.”
‘Criminal’ fossil finance
Bryan also highlighted the fact that major banks continue “the criminal funding” of the fossil fuel industry “that is killing people around the world right now”.
Trillions of dollars continue to flow into the fossil fuel industry, and there are few commitments to stop it, she said.
“It’s insanity that our banks keep propping up an industry which is driving the climate crisis,” Bryan told Al Jazeera, noting JPMorgan Chase, Lloyds Bank, HSBC and Blackrock are some of the largest funders of fossil-fuel expansion.
Meanwhile, the world’s governments are subsidizing the fossil fuel industry with $11m per minute, according to an International Monetary Fund analysis.
Ingmar Rentzhog, founder and CEO of the group We Don’t Have Time, said subsidizing the fossil fuel sector is the most pressing climate issue to be solved.
“For years and years these powerful economies have promised to phase out the fossil fuel subsidies, and still nothing happens. In fact, the subsidies are projected to increase over the next few years,” he said in a statement.
“This twists competition and makes it extremely hard for the clean, green alternatives – that are in reality much cheaper – to scale while we still have time.”
2020 was tied for the hottest ever year with nearly 100,000,000 people being affected by climate-related catastrophes that caused economic losses of $171bn or more, according to Oxfam, a UK charity.
Yet nations continue to promote vague actions that will not kick in for years to come when all indications are humanity has only eight years left to right the course – or face a planetary doomsday.
Critics of world leaders have expressed doubts that the ongoing summit in Scotland will achieve the results that are so urgently needed.
“[COP26]It is almost certain that it will fail. It will fail us just as they failed us before. Even the Paris Agreement in 2015 – which was an amazing diplomatic achievement – was a paper tiger,” said Read.