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/

X-treme in the Streets: How Far is Too Far?

 

Extinction Rebellion (or XR for short), has come under the spotlight once again following a recent bout of intense protests across London.

Committed to their tactics of civil disobedience, the climate activist group have resisted police force and prevailed wide scale demonstrations to disrupt the capital.

This is to raise awareness of the increasingly urgent climate emergency and challenge the supreme authorities to act accordingly.

Such views are reflective of the growing ‘green radical movement,’ which calls for a top-down approach to resolving the climate threat. It suggests a total de-rooting of the very fibres of our existence: capitalism, elitism and globalisation to name a few.

Last week’s protests saw a wave of placards float across London declaring: ‘system change not climate change.’

Certainly, there is some proof in the pudding. It’s not news that consumerism is harming the planet. In fact, most scientists share a consensus that current global consumption patterns are unsustainable and require evaluation. But how far is too far?

For XR, the radicalism of the protests is reflective of the radical action required to tackle climate change successfully.

In the UK Politics Hour’s latest podcast, we spoke to a protester who had been camping for four days straight on London Bridge in the name of climate awareness.

He presented his commitment as dutiful; he was resilient and ready to combat ruling forces with whatever it took to stand up to climate change. The full interview is available through the link at the bottom.

Like most things to do with politics these days, opinions were split across the nation as to whether XR’s approach was necessary.

With few more abrasive than an angry London commuter, many responded distastefully to the protesters. Journalist Mike Graham took to Twitter to express his frustration:

tweet for blog

Yet others were not so disapproving of the action. A recent opinion piece in the Guardian stated: “Critics complain that the civil disobedience campaign is unrealistic and disruptive, but its tactics are forcing the public and politicians to confront the climate emergency.”

XR have undeniably been successful in pushing a climate-centric discourse to the forefront of discussions. In just a year of existing, the group have managed to get Britain to declare a ‘climate emergency’ and pushed the government to commit to net-zero emissions targets by 2050. A survey this year also found that 85% of Britons now believe that climate change is a serious threat, compared to 59% in 2013 (Ipsos Mori, 2019).

Indeed, the nation appears to be moving closer to unanimity that we must take global action against climate change. However, the response to the XR protests suggests the means of achieving this are much more highly disputed. Despite the vast number of Brits now supporting climate action, just 17% are opposed to capitalism in Britain (YouGov, 2017).

In the midst of all this debate, what we must agree on is this: climate change is scientifically, bona fide real. We cannot ignore its presence.

We live in a world where natural disaster and not our leaders convince us of the truth.

In the year where US emissions rose by 3.5%, Alaska saw its highest ever temperature, sea levels rose higher than any other year and the Earth’s glaciers lost more than 9 trillion tonnes of ice, we must unite.

Let us work out the logistics along the way, but let us all stand together in the name of preserving our planet and make a global commitment to care for Mother Earth.

Links:

https://soundcloud.com/thepoliticshour2018/the-uk-politics-hour-ep1

https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/concern-about-climate-change-reaches-record-levels-half-now-very-concerned

https://yougov.co.uk/topics/economy/survey-results/daily/2017/09/28/dd1bc/2