Cop26 is dead – long live (the reformed) Cop27.
Let us be clear – Cop26 utterly failed on the only issue that counts: cutting global carbon emissions. The latest IPCC reportIt was stated that by 2030, we need to cut carbon emissions by 45 per cent UN analysisCop26 pledges suggest that they will lead a 16% increase.
The reason Cop26 failed – just like every previous Cop – to stop emissions rising is because its institutional structures are incapable of delivering the actions necessary to save civilisation. Take, for example, the stark reality that Saudi Arabia has been unable to save civilisation. has been able to vetoThe adoption of agreed voting procedures at each Cop since 1995. Thus every oil-producing or high fossil fuel-consuming state has the power of veto over every single word “agreed” at these summits.
These failures are like the Titanic disaster in real-time. The Titanic is human civilisation. Despite previous Cop summits trying to avoid such an iceberg, the climate crisis is what we have now hit. The ship is now in trouble and the poorest nations of the global south are literally seeing their third class berths flood and their possessions destroyed.
These countries pleaded with the global north for years to end their use of fossil fuels at a pace that would cause a climate crisis and flood them. They pleaded for funding to protect them from the coming flooding, droughts, and storms. The industrialized nations promised $100 billion per year starting in 2015, but they failed to deliver. Forty per cent of the funds provided were not grants but loans which require interest repayments, further damaging poor countries’ ability to protect themselves. They are now in vain pleading with the global North to helpPay for the damage caused by past emissions.
Then we have the industrialising nations, including China, India and Brazil, with large populations in the Titanic’s second class cabins. These countries want to be able to burn huge amounts of fossil fuels to obtain first class cabin riches and a comfortable, sustainable standard of living. This is something that the first world has enjoyed for the past century. Their obsession with first-class cabin status on the ship is driving their high fossil fuel consumption to ram the same ship into the iceberg, which is sinking all humanity, even their own people.
Then we have the hypocritical arrogance and industrialized north, the first-class occupants. They insist on the second-world phasing out coal power stations that fuel their rapid rises in living standards. Meanwhile, the west continues to invest enormously in new oil fields and gas fields all over the globe. They refuse to pay the price for the deaths and destruction their first-class, fossil-fuelled luxury is imposing upon the third class occupants, which will continue to devastate their own people.
Cop26 decisions were again littered with loopholes that delayed the necessary rapid cuts. Mark Carney’s GFANZ finance “agreement” allows the banks to invest in fossil fuels for another three decades.
The deforestation “agreement” allows deforestation to continue for another decade, even if signatories deliver on their pledges. Already Indonesia, which is a signatory, has declared that they would continue to prioritise “development” over protecting their forests.
When Cop26 defenders have to point out that the final “agreement” for the first time actually mentions fossil fuels and they have agreed to discuss “cuts” again next year, as the “big wins” of the conference, you realise how flawed the whole process is.
So what are we to do?
First, reforming the Cop process is necessary. Without the cooperation of the three other pillars of the fossil fuelled economy, banks, fossil fuel corporations, and media, governments cannot create a zero carbon economy. As the current Cop president the UK needs to work with Egypt to convene simultaneous Cop27 summits from the other three major pillars to make binding proposals for net zero by 2030.
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Second, the climate movement should prioritize two goals. The global corporate media leadership must use their enormous political power to push for a fair transition to a low-carbon economy by 2030. And target the world’s banking system to implement the IEA ban on all new fossil fuel investments. Cop27 would agree that $5tn in fossil fuel expansion funds should be used instead for the energy transition. It would be a game-changer.
We need a huge expansion of disruptive direct action, which is tragically what we have. The global visceral anger from young people at Cop26’s betrayal needs to be channelled into waves of peaceful disruptive actionsTo force the pillars and leaders of power to take the necessary steps.
The Titanic is racing full speed into the Iceberg, so there is no time for handwringing. Or the whole ship will sink. It doesn’t matter if our children were cabin holders of first, second, or third class. We are all in mortal danger together, as demonstrated by the Canadian fires, the floods in China and Germany, and the droughts in Africa.
Cop26 is dead. Long live (the reformed) Cop27– and mass global peaceful direct action.