COP26 was a flop but there is still hope

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Only revolutionary activism can help save civilization from climate disaster.

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The outcome of international climate summits has barely changed during the past few decades. The task of building a global consensus on transformative mitigation strategies for the climate emergency somehow always escapes the participating parties, and the result is a slew of cans being kicked down the road as “let future generations take care of the problem”. “


Unfortunately, despite being touted as “our last best hope”, the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow turned out to be just another big flop, thus confirming whether people should call on international climate summits or governments to address the climate crisis. Don’t expect a solution.

Indeed, the only hope for solving humanity’s greatest existential crisis is our ability to mobilize behind the global climate movement.

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The outcome of COP26 – a great “agreement” between moderates and reactionaries – does little to slow our pace toward the precipice. The final document, the Glasgow Climate Pact, showed no progress with regard to current national plans to cut emissions by 2030, which are not enough to limit global warming to 1.5C (2.7F). In fact, as things stand, the planet is headed for a catastrophic 2.4C (4.3F) heating. Only very gullible souls can take comfort from the fact that the treaty obliges countries to return to next year’s COP with revised goals.

Fossil fuels, which supplied 84 percent of global energy in 2020, will continue to dominate global energy consumption. The power of fossil fuel producers and the influence of the fossil fuel lobby are clearly too strong to be countered in diplomatic negotiations over the future of the planet. In addition, rich countries have failed to honor their pledge to provide $100 billion each year by 2020 to help poorer countries combat the dangers of global warming, and climate debt mounts sharply.

In other words, despite the pressing need to start the process immediately to prevent temperatures from rising above 2C (3.6F), large-scale decarbonization remains a distant dream, and COP26 has stipulated to move the world economy. did not contribute the least amount to the effort. Towards a clean energy transition. Strangely enough, even coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels and the single biggest source of global warming, got a mere slap on the hand, as India, with the support of China, “referred to the words of the earlier draft”. step”. To “phase down” the coal.

If COP26 participants were really serious about solving the climate crisis, they should have made at least the following pledges:

1. Eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies, which according to a recent IMF study amounted to $5.9 trillion in 2020;

2. Ban banks from funding new fossil fuel projects, as they have invested trillions of dollars in oil, gas and coal since the signing of the 2021 Paris climate agreement;

3. To make Ecocide an international crime at par with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes;

4. Demand for debt cancellation for low-income countries, which now spend many times more on debt repayments than on tackling the challenges of global warming;

5. Build funding sources on a large scale to aid the transition to a green economy.

Instead, we got mostly “blah, blah, blah” and more inertia.

But why is there a persistent failure of governments to put the world on a sustainable climate path?

First, leaders sit at the climate negotiating table with the intention of advancing an agenda that puts the health of our planet above all their own, rather than their national interests. His mindset is still guided by the principles of “political realism” and political ephemerality. That is why his words are not matching with his actions.

Thus, Joe Biden may make a moral declaration to world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow that the US will “by example” lead the fight against the climate crisis, but, less than two weeks later, his administration is at bay. Auctions oil and gas leases. of Mexico.

Second, the nation-state remains the primary actor in world affairs, so there is no international enforcement mechanism regarding pledges to cut emissions. International co-operation, let alone solidarity, is extremely difficult to achieve under the current political system, and, as the leading international affairs scholar Richard Falk has argued, “the only way of human solidarity based on the genuine search for a win/win solution at home.” Has an international ethos and can effectively respond to the magnitude and diversity of the growing challenges of climate change internationally.”

Third, the “logic of capitalism” guides the world economy. With profit-maximization as the ultimate motive, capitalism is toxic to the environment, especially in its neoliberal version, with its emphasis on deregulation and privatization. Under such a socioeconomic system, it is highly unlikely that the political establishment would dare to initiate a climate action course that could prove detrimental to powerful economic interests.

But, alas, all this is not as difficult or depressing as the international climate summit seems to be. Climate activism is now a global movement. Youth around the world have taken to the streets to protest inaction on the climate threat.

We have made some progress in the fight against global warming. Cities around the world are at the forefront of climate action thanks to grassroots activism. More than 60 percent of European cities have already committed themselves to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, of which 12 are before 2040. Some 30 large cities in Latin America and the Caribbean have developed climate programs. In Asia and the Pacific, more than 100 climate projects have been launched to combat global warming.

In California, the state with the largest economy in the United States, a project to build clean-energy infrastructure and reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieve a zero-emissions economy by 2045 is supported by nearly 20 major unions. has gone. State. In the Ohio River Valley, Reimagine Appalachia, a broad coalition of individuals and organizations is laying the groundwork for a post-fossil fuel economy.

Activism is indeed the key ingredient behind support for green transition programs, and there have even been some major legal victories in the fight against global warming. European courts sided with activists in an effort to end logging in a pristine protected forest in Poland, driving restrictions have been imposed in some of Germany’s inner cities, and a Dutch court granted oil giant Royal Dutch Shell its Ordered to cut greenhouse emissions. 45 percent by 2045.

Climate litigation has also spread to the Global South. Domestic courts have given favorable decisions in historic climate cases in Colombia, Pakistan and South Africa.

Radical and legal activism is a trend that is likely to increase over time as international climate summits and governments fail to take the drastic measures needed for the planet to avert climate disaster.

Revolutionary activism is really our last best hope to prevent humanity from returning to barbarism due to the possible collapse of civilized social order due to a climate apocalypse. We need to organize on a large scale, especially among working class communities, so that acts of civil disobedience can be given wider legitimacy and support. The general strike, a tool of working class struggle since the mid-19th century, could become a very effective strategy in challenging the political establishment to take drastic measures to combat global warming.

In practice, revolutionary activism means turning every city and every city in every major country around the world into a bastion of the global climate movement. This is the only way the “common will” can be applied to powers.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.


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