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COP26

CLARA Statement on COP26 Outcomes

By staff - Climate Land Ambition and Rights Alliance, November 13, 2021

The science is clear: we are facing “Code Red for Humanity.” COP 26 started with soaring rhetoric promising to ‘keep 1.5 alive.’ Once again though, this COP has failed to listen to science and give credence to the peoples’ voices ringing outside the negotiating rooms of the COP and those taking to the streets calling for climate justice.

One bright spot, however, is the agreement on the Glasgow Committee on Non-Market Approaches and the forthcoming work program. CLARA is committed to seeing these approaches succeed in order to enable enhanced cooperation on mitigation and adaptation in order to provide communities with the support they need for climate action. But the market based mechanisms in the rest of Article 6 risk undermining real climate action with offsets that do nothing to enhance ambition to keep temperature rise below 1.5 (see more below).

Read the text (PDF).

Blah, Blah, Blah, Yay: Another Epic Fail for the COP, but Seeds of Growth for our Movements

By John Foran - Sierra Club, December 1, 2021

As COP 26 began, Greta Thunberg summed up the whole thing quite succinctly using just one word, three times:  Blah blah blah.

And as it ended two weeks later, she tweeted:

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 [emphasis added].

And indeed, COP 26 was an epic fail, even by the dismal standards of the 25 COPs that preceded it, but at the same time, the global climate justice movement made some much needed forward progress.

Public and Commercial Services Union: Action is Needed Now on Climate Change

By Staff - Public and Commercial Services Union, November 26, 2021

Addressing climate change and environmental damage should be used as an opportunity to improve the lives of all workers and communities.

The government still lacks a plan for how it will implement its net zero carbon targets, including ensuring we have a fully resourced civil service that is set up to deliver on this. PCS members are critical to a Just Transition, for example in DWP ensuring the temporary work coaches hired to deal with the Covid crisis are made permanent to deal with the climate crisis and help workers transition into jobs in the so called green economy.

PCS ‘s climate change sub committee has written the following statement:

COP26 – no time for tears, we need action

PCS stands with the chorus of voices angry at the outcome of the COP26 climate negotiations but determined to ensure that the era of injustice is over. As UK COP President Alok Sharmer’s banged his gavel to signal agreement on the Glasgow Climate Pact his call for unity rang hollow, just as his tears.

There can be no question this is a pact for elite nations and the powerful fossil fuel lobby against workers and peoples across the world. The shameless disregard for the nations and peoples on the frontline of climate change pleading to be listened to, was paralleled by the voices of workers outside the negotiating rooms on strike in Glasgow throughout the COP. A recognition that climate justice is workers justice, and workers justice is climate justice.

As part of the COP26 coalition, PCS has been proud to be part of mobilising our movement around the COP alongside the wider climate justice movement. But this mobilisation does not stop here. As we set out in our briefing to members ahead of the COP, market forces won’t save our jobs and what we have been witnessing is a reconfiguring of the economy to ensure the greening of profits.

Whilst financiers at the COP set out the new net zero finance architecture, the business-as -usual tax avoidance and evasion remains in place. We need a new pro-public architecture for a decarbonised economy with assets such as energy, water, transport and communications returned to full public ownership with democratic controls.

There will be no just transition if left to the bankers, and we cannot be fooled by our politicians greenwashing their so called climate ambition in the language of the climate movement. Alok Sharmer and Mark Carney are not part of our movement, they are against our class and we need to ensure we build a wall of solidarity against their next onslaught.

For example, telling us that the transition is too expensive, when not doing the things we urgently need to do now is an irreversible cost. This includes ensuring we have a fully resourced and well paid civil service that can help deliver a whole economy decarbonisation plan for workers and their communities. As we learnt from the Covid crisis, there is money, and will not be able to deliver on climate action with a pared down civil service as proposed in the last budget announcement.

PCS members are at the heart of the Just Transition. Our members have a vital role to play in the work of collecting taxes, delivering social protections such as real living wage benefits, and supporting workers into new green jobs; looking after green spaces and public facilities such as in the Royal Parks or getting fossil fuel funders out of our museums and galleries; growing the trees for reforestation.

With the UK a signatory to the Just Transition statement announced at the COP, PCS will be seeking a discussion on how this will be taken forward within the UK Civil Service, and other of our employers. We will also be stepping up our efforts across the union to put demands for action on climate.

Climate change is already here, impacting our sisters and brothers at home and around the world. There is no time to waste. We need to build on the alliances we have made mobilising for the COP, strengthening our power to win on climate and to win for workers.

Chomsky and Pollin: Protests Outside of COP26 Offered More Hope Than the Summit

By C.J. Polychroniou, Noam Chomsky, and Robert Pollin - Truthout, November 22, 2021

The legacy of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this fall was perhaps best encapsulated by its president, who bowed his head and — close to tears — actually apologized for the process, which ended with a last-minute watering-down of participants’ pledges on coal.

“May I just say to all delegates I apologize for the way this process has unfolded and I am deeply sorry,” said Alok Sharma, the British politician who served as president for COP26. The conference ended on November 13 with a disheartening “compromise” deal on the climate after two weeks of negotiations with diplomats from more than 190 nations.

In the interview that follows, leading public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin offer their assessments of what transpired at COP26 and share their views about ways to go forward with the fight against the climate crisis. Chomsky — one of the most cited scholars in history and long considered one of the U.S.’s voices of conscience — is Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. He is joined by one of the world’s leading economists of the left, Robert Pollin, who is Distinguished Professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Chomsky and Pollin are co-authors of the recently published book, Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy to Save the Planet.

C.J. Polychroniou: COP26, touted as our “last best hope” to avert a climatic catastrophe, has produced an outcome that was a “compromise,” according to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, while activists conducted a funeral ceremony at the Glasgow Necropolis to symbolize the failure of the summit. Noam, can you give us your analysis of the COP26 climate agreement?

Noam Chomsky: There were two events at Glasgow: within the stately halls, and in the streets. They may have not been quite at war, but the conflict was sharp. Within, the dominant voice mostly echoed the concerns of the largest contingent, corporate lobbyists; rather like the U.S. Congress, where the impact of lobbyists, always significant, has exploded since the 1970s as the corporate-run neoliberal assault against the general population gained force. The voice within had some nice words but little substance. In the streets, tens of thousands of protesters, mostly young, were desperately calling for real steps to save the world from looming catastrophe.

COP26 Report Back: Climate Justice Activists Speak Out

Noam Chomsky: Ending Climate Change “Has to Come From Mass Popular Action,” Not Politicians

By Poyâ Pâkzâd, Benjamin Magnussen, and Noam Chomsky - Jacobin, November 19, 2021

Benjamin Magnussen: To change subjects: What do you see as the greatest obstacle in solving the climate crisis?

Noam Chomsky: There are two major obstacles. One is, of course, the fossil fuel companies. Second is the governments of the world, including Europe and the United States. We have just seen that very dramatically over the summer. On August 9, 2021, the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] issued its last analysis of the climate situation. It was a very dire warning — much more than before.

The message basically was, “We have two choices.” We can either start right now cutting back on fossil fuel use, [and] do it systematically every year, until we phase them out by mid-century. That’s one choice. The other choice is cataclysm. The end of organized human life on earth. Not immediately — we’ll just reach irreversible tipping points, and it goes on to disaster. Those are the options.

How did the great powers react? The day after the IPCC report, Joe Biden issued an appeal to the OPEC cartel [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] to increase production. Europe chimed in by calling on all producers, including Russia, to increase production. Increase production. This is a response to the IPPC warning that we have to start reducing right now.

That’s for political reasons, for profit for the oil companies. [The] political reason is that they want the price reduced. It’s better for them. [For] Joe Biden, if the gas prices are high, it harms his electoral prospects. [If] you read the major business press right now, [there’s] a big discussion going on: What’s the best way to increase production? Is it through the American shale oil — the fracking industry — or is it through OPEC? But how do we increase production best? That’s the business press. Turn to the petroleum journals. [They are] euphoric: “We just found new fields to exploit. Demand is going up. It’s great.”

Let’s go to the US Congress. The Biden program — under pressure from young activists, the Bernie Sanders movements, and so on — is actually a big improvement on any previous ones, on paper. It’s not wonderful, but it’s much better than anything else. Well, the [previous] negotiations in Congress over the “reconciliation bill,” initiated by Bernie Sanders, cut back very sharply from Sanders’s proposals. It’s a very valuable bill. It somewhat reverses the huge assault on the population during the neoliberal era.

The Republicans are 100 percent opposed. Nothing. [They] won’t accept anything. The Democrats do have a swing vote. The so-called moderate Democrats, who should be called “ultra-reactionaries,” are the swing vote. One of them is the chair of the Senate Energy Committee, [who] also happens to be the champion in Congress of receiving funding from the fossil fuel industry — which is quite an achievement, because they pay off everyone — but he’s the champion. His name is Joe Manchin. He has a policy — he’s made it explicit — that’s taken from the playbook of the oil companies. He made it very clear; he said: “No elimination, only innovation.” So, no cutbacks on the use of fossil fuel. If you can make up something new, it’s okay. So, he’s blocking it. There are climate change provisions in it. They’re already out. Blocked.

In Europe, it varies. There are some countries, like Denmark, for example, that are moving toward renewable energy pretty significantly. Others vary. But when it comes to the crunch, telling the oil companies and the producers right now what to do, Europe is, as far as I know, unified in saying, “Increase production” — right after the warning that we have to decrease production. That’s the world we live in.

Firefighters on the front line of the climate emergency

By Denise Christie - Morning Star, November 19, 2021

From flooding to forest blazes, firefighters all over Britain are already engaged with the practical battle against the climate crisis – but our services are not yet fully prepared for the enormous implications of the emergency, writes DENISE CHRISTIE of the Fire Brigades Union.

COP26 is an opportunity for our movement to demonstrate our solidarity with working people and their communities around the world and to organise together to create the just and green world we want and need, to allow us to live safely and fairly.

We must also be fully active in the campaign that Cop26 must be a focus to organise against the climate emergency in solidarity with all working people.

The climate crisis is a crisis of social justice, with those who have done least to cause the crisis and who are least able to address it facing the worst effects.

What’s it got to do with firefighters and the FBU?

Firefighters are on the front line of tackling the climate emergency. Climate change is increasing the risk of wildfires, such as grassland and forest fires and floods, including from surface water, rivers and the sea.

It will also affect the supply and availability of water and may give rise to more extreme weather events.

These hazards will have implications for the working conditions of firefighters. The climate emergency will require significant changes to appliances, to the equipment available to firefighters, and to training.

We will also need greater awareness of firefighters’ health implications, greater pumping capability and water use and increased capacity within our operational fire control rooms.

The fire and rescue service needs the staff, resources and equipment to tackle the impact of this climate emergency. There is no logic to job cuts and shutting fire stations and control rooms when these risks are likely to increase in the years ahead.

COP26: workers must focus on solutions, not empty promises

By staff - Canadian Union of Public Employees, November 17, 2021

World leaders – including Canada’s Justin Trudeau – have again sadly under-performed with their feeble response to the climate emergency at COP26. There is little doubt that leadership from our governments is too weak, and that the influence of polluters on them is too strong. But despite the disappointing results of these international discussions, we must not lose hope. Unions and workers must now focus their energies on real solutions and centre our efforts on creating better ways of working that cut greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

COP26 wrapped up in Glasgow, Scotland, with a mild new agreement that will not hold global temperatures from rising more than 1.5℃. The planet is currently on track to warm 2.7℃ by the end of this century.

We now need to focus even more, and concretely, on job creation that results from greening our economy. For example, CUPE is partnered with the Green Economy Network that calls for job growth in low-carbon, public energy and transportation. Jobs can also be created that will help communities adapt to climate change through reforesting urban spaces and re-naturalizing waterfronts and coastlines. Cutting waste, bolstering recycling, and composting programs all grow good jobs. Plus, all CUPE jobs can be altered to cut emissions. Just Transition programs are necessary to protect workers and communities in these important and necessary changes.

Before COP26, CUPE participated in a Trade Union Task Force. The Trade Union Program for a Public Low-Carbon Energy Future was launched in Glasgow at the start of the COP26 to rally the international trade union movement to support a fundamental shift in climate and energy policy centred on a socially-just energy transition.

A people’s summit was also organized by environmental and development NGOs, trade unions, grassroots community campaigners, faith groups, youth groups, migrant and racial justice networks and others. That summit convened a diverse and impressive series of discussions outlining solutions working people can advocate for and pressure governments to support. The strengthening of broad social justice coalitions calling for real climate change solutions is a positive outcome of the COP process.

While COP26 under-delivered in stemming the phase-out of coal and fossil fuels that are at the root of the climate crisis, it has again inspired workers and other social justice and climate activists to invest their energy toward real solutions.

Lesson from COP26: Protecting the climate requires anti-capitalist struggle

By W. T. Whitney Jr. - People's World, November 17, 2021

Dealing with climate change, the United Nations held its “Conference of the Parties”—COP26—in Glasgow Nov. 1-13. Unfortunately, nothing happened likely to slow down progression toward a catastrophic outcome. The nations failed to reach even a non-binding agreement on reducing fossil fuel emissions that disturb the climate. In the wake of the conference, the theme “system change not climate change” gains new relevance.

With smooth words obscuring a grim reality, a New York Times reporter described “a major agreement…calling on governments to return next year with stronger plans to curb their planet-warming emissions.” But then comes the admission: COP26 left “unresolved the crucial question of how much and how quickly each nation should cut its carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the next decade.”

The conference’s hesitant approach originates from past difficulties in reaching collective and binding agreements. In recognition of such, the 2015 COP meeting ruled that henceforth nations need only submit goals for voluntarily reducing emissions.

The delegates at COP26 decided to renew a previous agreement, still unfulfilled, to provide poor nations with an inadequate $100 billion annually to assist them in “transition…recovery…and adaptation.” Rich nations were urged to double their funding by 2025. COP26 did not address phasing out coal production.

Prior to the gathering, publicity centered on “Keep 1.5 (degrees C) alive.” The slogan expressed determination not to allow dangerous levels of atmospheric warming to exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as promised by the 2015 COP meeting. A conservative estimate foresees a 50% probability that, at the current rates of emissions, greenhouse house gases will spike to that level in just 15 years.

Climate scientists associated with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) periodically issue Assessment Reports. Part I of the current version, reporting on the “physical science basis of climate change,” predicts that “Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century.” Consensus exists that temperature elevations of the order of 3°C will lead to exponentially accelerating planetary changes that will be irreversible.

The dim prospect of nations and the international community mobilizing effectively has unsettled all quarters of society. References to short-sightedness, disregard for the truth, opportunism, and immorality are standard. What’s in order for the protection of humanity is a gigantic rising-up of the concerned and afflicted, but it’s not on the horizon.

COP26 takeaways for Canada and the labour movement

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, November 17, 2021

At the conclusion of COP26 on November 13, the world has been left with the Glasgow Climate Pact and numerous side deals that were made throughout the two weeks of presentations and negotiations. Carbon Brief notes that the final Glasgow Pact is actually set out in three documents –with most attention falling on this paragraph in the 11-page “cover document” (aka 1/CMA.3), which:

“Calls upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, while providing targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable in line with national circumstances and recognizing the need for support towards a just transition;”

Fortunately, Carbon Brief analyzed all three documents, as well as side events and pledges in its summary of Key Outcomes .The International Institute for Sustainable Development has also compiled a detailed, day by day summary through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

Reactions range widely, but the November 13 tweet from @Greta Thunberg captures the essence: “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.” Veteran climate reporter Fiona Harvey writes “What are the key points of the Glasgow Climate Pact?” in The Guardian, representing the more positive consensus about the success of diplomacy, and The New York Times provides overviews from a U.S. perspective inNegotiators Strike a Climate Deal, but World Remains Far From Limiting Warming” (Nov. 13) and “Climate Promises Made in Glasgow Now Rest With a Handful of Powerful Leaders” (Nov 14). In contrast, George Monbiot argues that the Fridays for Future movement and civil society have demonstrated the power of a committed minority in “After the failure of Cop26, there’s only one last hope for our survival” and states: “Our survival depends on raising the scale of civil disobedience until we build the greatest mass movement in history, mobilising the 25% who can flip the system. 

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