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Protesters Blast Climate Summit as World Leaders COP Out

Environmental groups and trade unions walked out of COP26 over the weak language of the new draft deal.
Protesters Blast Climate Summit as World Leaders COP out

Image Courtesy: AP

Dr Caroline Palmer and her husband Malcolm Redford are “very worried” about the future of their grandchildren amid the looming climate catastrophe and the increasing use of fossil fuels.

“I have got grandchildren and I feel very worried about what life is going to be like for them. It is our duty to do what we can to hold our government to account,” Palmer said while protesting on the last day of 13-day COP26 climate summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow on Friday.

Scores of delegates from environmental groups and trade unions marched through the Scottish Event Campus chanting “We are unstoppable, another world is possible”. Carrying blood-red ribbons representing the crucial red lines already crossed by COP26 negotiations, hundreds of protesters from global civil society walked out of the convention centre.

“They [world leaders] keep making promises but what we need is action. It’s getting critical now,” Palmer said. Redford wants an immediate end to the extraction of fossil fuels. “We need to make real choices to keep 1.5 [the Paris Agreement] alive otherwise we have lost,” the former teacher, who wants more affordable cars, said.

A new draft of the deal that could be approved on Saturday has weakened language on fossil fuels. The first draft had called for countries “to accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”, The Scotsman reported. However, the new draft calls on countries to accelerate the shift to clean energy systems, “including by rapidly scaling up clean power generation and accelerating the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

The presence of 503 lobbyists of fossil fuel companies, like BP and Shell, at the summit has rankled environmentalists and climate experts and played a crucial role in watering down the language of the first draft.

“Cop26 is a performance,” indigenous rights activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney of the Tla A’min Nation told the audience at the People’s Plenary in the conference blue zone condemning the legitimacy and ambition of the summit before walking out with others to join protesters gathered on the streets beyond the security fencing, The Guardian reported.

“It is an illusion constructed to save the capitalist economy rooted in resource extraction and colonialism. I didn’t come here to fix the agenda—I came here to disrupt it,” Blaney added.

Rubbishing the claims that the summit was the most inclusive one so far, Tracy Bach of the advocacy steering group Ringo said, “Most of the observers sitting here right now have not had access to the negotiation space.”

As they sang and chanted, representatives of farmers, Indigenous people, youth, women, academics, trade unions and environmental NGOs were greeted by chants from the throng of activists outside the gates. “We’ve been coming to different climate negotiations before the little one was born. So, we’re getting used to the results every time being downsized and not as strong as we need. This summit is becoming a joke again, and there’s a real need for them to listen to people like these,” said John Deman, from Devon, waiting in the crowd with his one-year-old son.

The mood at a rally next to the COP26 venue where the campaigners gathered for disco turned sombre as a 15-year-old from Chad who had come out of the blue zone mentioned how Lake Chad has dried up by 95% since the 1950s, the BBC reported. Despite being accredited for the summit, the teenager said that she was excluded from key meetings. “No one is listening; no one is doing anything,” she told the rally.

Holding the sign ‘A Giant COP Up’, 29-year-old Sarah, an Extinction Rebellion activist from Glasgow, told the BBC, “We are here today because COP has failed. COP has essentially been a giant trade show in which the fossil fuel executives have a bigger presence than delegates from countries most affected by climate change. It has shown that leaders, such as our own government, are content to let people suffer and let people die rather than take the action that is required.”

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