Equity undermined, what we’ve got at the most exclusionary COP

Dec 6, 2021

While Covid-19 still ravages and so many in the Global South can’t get a vaccine or visa, UN Climate talks were held in Glasgow in the most exclusionary way. As expected the outcomes were just scandalous as it undermined equity and developed nations refused to acknowledge their historical responsibility to the climate crisis. 

Yet, the voices of civil society demanding climate justice echoed inside and outside of the COP venue and many citizens around the world were out in the streets for climate justice and a just transition to a world without fossil fuels.

The temperature has already risen by around 1 degree celsius, and it affects the people least responsible for the climate crisis. The outcome of COP26 leaves developed countries free to keep polluting whilst giving the green light for massive land grabs for offsets in developing countries. 

There was a cry for achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and this is just an “escape” from the responsibility. Net zero is not real zero. We need real rapid emissions reductions but promising achieving net zero by 2050 is too slow and it is not even reducing emissions as most of the net zero pledges rely on  carbon offsetting. 

FoE groups have been voicing our grave concerns over  carbon market and did some actions at the COP venue to demand real solutions. Stopping the climate crisis requires us to stop burning fossil fuels – no magical thinking – like unicorns – will solve this problem. Transnational corporations and governments are hiding behind the “net” in “net zero” – claiming that they just need to pay someone else to remove carbon, through carbon offsetting, rather than taking action on their own. (See the report for more detail)

The term “climate justice” was included in the decision text. Consideration for countries and peoples more severely affected by climate change was interspersed in speeches at summits and events during the conference, but these were all words without substance, and during the negotiations in the conference hall, developed countries continued to unite in adamantly rejecting the voices of developing countries already suffering the effects of severe climate change. 

The content of the decision document, far from the principle of equity, continues to allow developed countries, which are responsible for the historical accumulation of emissions, to continue to emit large amounts of emissions, and to ask developing countries to shoulder the responsibility of emissions, while refusing to give them the support they need.

Under the chairmanship of the United Kingdom, developed countries are promoting a carbon colonialist framework that prioritises maintaining their existing interests. Despite the language in the decision document, it also jeopardises the realisation of the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement.  FoE groups will continue to work towards the realisation of climate justice.


Written by Ayumi Fukakusa, Climate Change and Energy Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Japan