“If the military were to disclose its full carbon footprint and do so on a regular basis, that number would be deeply embarrassing and create a tremendous amount of political pressure on the U.S. military to reduce those emissions going forward,” former army officer and Afghanistan War veteran Eric Edstrom told Democracy Now! “We cannot make smart choices intellectually and strategically, until those numbers come out.”
As the first-ever person from my city to attend the biggest summit in the world about climate change, the hype was real. My friends and family were very much eager to see what would happen in the most anticipated COP since COP21, and the local government gave me their full support to report back the important things that could be echoed back to my community. Unfortunately, my disappointment was even bigger than I thought imaginable, and this COP turned out to be quite uneventful on my part. Coming into the Blue Zone (the area where the official negotiations took place) for the first time and seeing the giant globe suspended from the ceiling, I was full of excitement.
Two major gains took place at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Glasgow, Scotland, which concluded on November 13: the first was that there would be another COP in 2022 in Egypt, and the second was that the world leaders expressed their aspiration to keep global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius alive. These were, however, the only gains made at the end of COP26 to address the pressing issue of climate change. After more than two weeks of intense discussions – and many evenings of corporate-funded cocktail parties – the most powerful countries in the world left the convention center pleased not to have altered the status quo. The focus of the discussions and negotiations by world leaders during COP26 seemed to be on the change of a word in the Glasgow Climate Pact, the final document that will be adopted by nearly 200 countries.
The cataclysms of the interlinked crises of COVID and climate change were elucidated this past year in ways that cannot be repudiated. Following the release of the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) most recent report on the state of global warming, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres characterized it as, “a code red for humanity .” In short, the report found that absent immediate and decisive measures to address planetary warming, the worst-case scenarios of climate change will be soon realized for both the physical environment and the social systems that depend on it. These admonishments should have made the 26th annual Conference of Parties (COP) climate summit, held this year in Glasgow, Scotland, a proverbial come to Black Jesus moment for the world.
COP 26 reaffirmed what has been obvious from the beginning: the Northern colonial and capitalist states most responsible for creating the climate crisis are unwilling to place people before profits in order to address the planet’s looming ecological collapse and humanitarian catastrophe. We need justice. But that word -- Justice! -- despite all of the philosophical pontificating from John Locke to John Rawls, is a concept incompatible with the rapacious civilizational logic of a colonial/capitalist system based on self-interest, greed, and social Darwinism.
The 26th Conference of the Parties, COP26, climate summit ended with its president fighting back tears. Alok Sharma came to Glasgow, Scotland hoping for an agreement to end the extraction of coal. Instead he said this, “I apologize for the way this process has unfolded. I am deeply sorry.” The international climate conferences are a perennial disappointment to anyone who understands the depth of the world wide catastrophe. Every year the rich capitalist nations find a way to undermine the process and consign millions of people to misery and devastation. Activists from all over the world gather in an effort to have an impact on the process, but they are literally outnumbered by fossil fuel lobbyists who always get what they want.
As world leaders, celebrities, business moguls and activists alike descended on Scotland for the COP26 climate summit, behind the scenes powerful financial groups were and are attempting to rewrite the rules of international trade and to privatize nature under the guise of sustainability. While there has been a great deal of finger pointing, the enormous and tangible changes necessary to steer the planet away from devastation are yet to appear. The world is still on course to warm 2.4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, according to a report from Climate Action Tracker. Anything above 2°C is generally considered to be catastrophic and could lead to societal collapse across the globe.
The United Nations COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact signed on November 14 is another confirmation of what we learned in Durban in 2011, at the 17th UN climate summit. As expressed by Indigenous activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney (from the Tla A’min Nation in western Canada): ‘COP26 is a performance. It is an illusion constructed to save the capitalist economy rooted in resource extraction and colonialism.’ Swedish youth leader Greta Thunberg was also clear: ‘The COP26 is over. Here’s a brief summary: Blah, Blah, Blah. But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever.’ The climate activists are not being critical just for the sake of it. These half-dozen concrete demands were what we believe the Glasgow COP26 could have delivered – but didn’t.
Glasgow, Scotland - Speaking at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) on November 1, U.S. President Joe Biden said he wants the United States to commit $3 billion toward helping vulnerable countries adapt to climate change. But the administration’s climate negotiators in Glasgow are pushing to keep adaptation financing inadequate. Delegations from more than 190 countries are deliberating on issues that weren’t resolved in the first week of COP26, the largest annual climate-change conference organized under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Climate finance to assist developing countries adapt to a changing world and carbon markets to trade emission reduction credits remain on the table.
Many climate advocates and vulnerable nations entered this year’s conference hoping to address an enduring failure of the Paris Agreement, which said nothing about fossil fuels. But a draft agreement released on Saturday included only one reference, calling on parties to accelerate phasing out “unabated” coal consumption and “inefficient” subsidies for fossil fuels more broadly. Explicit references to oil and gas were absent.
As climate campaigners worldwide on Saturday slammed the United Nations summit in Scotland and its resulting Glasgow Climate Pact as betrayals of the Global South by rich countries that have polluted the planet, U.S. President Joe Biden faced growing pressure to improve both his national and global policies. The fresh demands built on previous comments and calls throughout COP26—such as a Friday statement Food & Water Watch, whose policy director Mitch Jones said that "this White House should fulfill its campaign promise to stop oil and gas drilling on public lands, put an end to oil and gas exports, and stop approving new dirty energy power plants and pipelines."
Nothing useful seemed to emerge from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP26 this week. The leaders of developed countries made tired speeches about their commitment to reversing the climate catastrophe. Their words rang with the clichés of spin doctors, their sincerity zero, their actual commitments to lowering carbon emissions nil. Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a Filipino climate activist and spokesperson for Fridays for Future, said that these leaders ‘spew empty, tired promises’, leaving young people like her with a ‘sense of betrayal’. As a child, she said, she felt the danger of being caught up in flash floods in the Philippines, floods that have terrible repercussions for high-risk countries.
On Wednesday, an “industry-led and UN-convened” alliance of private banking and financial institutions announced plans at the COP26 conference to overhaul the role of global and regional financial institutions, including the World Bank and IMF, as part of a broader plan to “transform” the global financial system. The officially stated purpose of this proposed overhaul, per alliance members, is to promote the transition to a “net zero” economy. However, the group’s proposed “reimagining” of international financial institutions, according to their recently published “progress report,” would also move to merge these institutions with the private-banking interests that compose the alliance; create a new system of “global financial governance”; and erode national sovereignty among developing countries by forcing them to establish business environments deemed “friendly” to the interests of alliance members.
The Indonesian state has dominated West Papua with military force since 1962. West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, situated immediately north of Australia. The Netherlands colonized the territory during the nineteenth century. As the Dutch began to decolonize during the 1950s, they prepared West Papua for independence. This came, briefly, at the end of 1961. Shortly after, Indonesia invaded in 1962. This began an enduring occupation predicated on political repression, cultural destruction, and colonial genocide. It has also resulted in environmental devastation locally and globally, but West Papuans are fighting back with a new vision for a free Green State launched during COP26.