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As we run out of time to save the planet, COP26 ends in ‘utter betrayal’

Originally published: The Canary on November 14, 2021 by Peadar O'Cearnaigh (more by The Canary)  | (Posted Nov 16, 2021)

Following two weeks of negotiations, the UN climate summit COP26 concluded with the Glasgow Climate Pact. The supposed aim of this pact, signed by 197 countries, is to keep hopes alive of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100.

As reported by the Guardian, the pact has been labelled “imperfect”. And prime minister Boris Johnson said “there is still a huge amount more to do in the coming years”. The UK, which hosted COP26, says the pact keeps alive hopes that we’ll avoid the worst of global warming. However, environmental activist Greta Thunberg was having none of it:

“Utter betrayal”

As the leaders were putting the final touches to their pact, Thunberg predicted a spin on the outcome:

Then came a warning from environmental journalist George Monbiot:

Earlier Monbiot had been even more damning. He called the pact a “total fiasco” and a:

pathetic limp rag of a document. Demonstrating that [COP26 leaders] are not here to protect life on Earth but to protect the fossil fuel industry from challenge:

Following the announcement of the pact, the COP26 Coalition–an environmental and civil society organisation–said:

This agreement is an utter betrayal of the people. It is hollow words on the climate emergency from the richest countries, with an utter disregard of science and justice. The UK government greenwash and PR have spun us off course

And that:

It’s immoral for the rich to sit there talking about their future children and grandchildren, when the children of the south are suffering now. This Cop has failed to keep 1.5C alive, and set us on a pathway to 2.5C. All while claiming to act as they set the planet on fire

Some of the pact’s takeaways

The pact asks countries to “strengthen” their climate plans by the end of 2022 and to reduce their use of coal and fossil fuel subsidies. It agrees to ‘phase down’ unabated coal power and to phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. But there’s some confusion over the definition of the words “unabated” and “inefficient”.

There was also push back on the necessary financial side. Because countries from the Global South wanted financial assistance to help them deal with the harm created by the climate crisis. But the U.S. and EU resisted this, so it wasn’t included in the final deal.

And as for the all important goal of limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees, Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin wrote in the Conversation:

Announcements at COP26, including new pledges to cut emissions this decade, by some key countries, have reduced this to a best estimate of 2.4°C.

And that:

Carbon markets could throw a potential lifeline to the fossil fuel industry, allowing them to claim “carbon offsets” and carry on business as (nearly) usual.

Thunberg tweeted:

A chorus of “blah blah blah”

Other people and campaign groups took to social media to echo that sentiment. Extinction Rebellion slammed COP26’s claim that it had “kept 1.5 degrees alive”:

Podcaster Alex Andreou was in agreement:

And this person blamed our capitalist system:


The Canary attended a number of days of the two-week COP26 and gave it extensive coverage. Reflected in that coverage were the numerous ways in which this summit was failing both planet and people. So it comes as little surprise that the final agreement showed COP26 really was nothing more than a “failure and PR event”, as Thunberg described it.

What should also come as no surprise is that the people who really care about our planet will fight on. Because we’re fucked if we don’t, and we’ve got precious little time.

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