An alternative look at COP26: Who is missing?

By John Cordner

The 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, or COP26, took place between the 31st of October and the 12th of November and was meant to be a holistic event bringing together all those on the planet who have a stake in the damage being done by climate change. With COP being such an important event, the question has to be asked about who isn’t there? Who doesn’t have ‘a stake’ in the climate?

With most large scale media focusing on who was at COP, what was being debated and whether resolutions be found, I chose to examine who isn’t part of COP26’s goal to “coordinate action to tackle climate change”. The three groups I cover that are not at COP26 are political leaders, major fossil fuel companies, and climate activists deemed too radical.

A theme can be found in the leaders who chose not to attend. They are authoritarian politicians with their power and support linked to their respective states’ economic performance. This issue is especially applicable to Vladamir Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China. Both men are leading countries that export and produce coal, oil and gas and any climate change commitments would almost certainly involve scaling back of these industries. To learn more about these political leaders and to hear about the
most controversial of them all, Jair Bolsonaro, click the link at the bottom to
listen to the whole story.

The exciting part of this story is examining
climate activists and why they oppose COP26, especially when considering the
conference is meant to be a huge step forward in platforming activists and
pushing green politics and agendas. In the aftermath of COP, world leaders did
little to address activists’ claims that COP is pointless so long as many of
the political parties and politicians involved receive lobbying money and
campaign donations from fossil fuel companies. No significant commitments in
that area were discussed, let alone considered for passing. While fossil fuel
companies have been excluded from COP, these climate activists argue that they
can never truly push for a green plan as long as politicians continue to take
large donations from fossil fuel companies.

But how many leading politicians are taking money from fossil fuels? According to The Guardian, the Conservative Party, which sent many delegates to COP and organised the conference, has taken £1.3 million from fossil fuel interest groups and climate sceptics since 2019. Statistica estimates that Joe Biden’s 2020 Presidential Campaign received $1.6 million of donations from oil and gas companies. Furthermore, an analysis of all attendees conducted by Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory, Glasgow Calls Out Polluters, and Global Witness shows that 503 individual attendees from different countries have directly taken money from fossil fuel industries or are affiliated with fossil fuel lobbyists. This indicates that the argument made by the activists may be true and explains their exclusion from the conference if they want to
break up the structures that earn a lot of politicians a lot of money.

Furthermore, nothing has been done to address climate activists’ issues with the lack of developing state representation at COP due to vaccine shortages. While most developed economies have been able to use the vaccine to stop the spread of Covid-19 from preventing attendance at COP, many developing nations have vaccine programs still in their infancy. It is not practical for developing countries to be sending large delegations to COP; this includes many African, South American and Asian nations. Activists argue that the conference should have been postponed for one year to allow these developing nations to send delegations. These are the countries most at risk from climate change because of their geography.

Click the Spotify link below to here to hear all
of these topics discussed in-depth, and the full Liverpool Politics
International Show here –
https://open.spotify.com/episode/1qJKEw1f3zGe8BHcmXLI33?si=B36PDqvrSTO7iGO0wcpufg

Featured Image Credit – Alamy Stock Photo
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2293938-cop26-news-daily-updates-from-the-global-climate-summit-in-glasgow/

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