Climate justice campaigners say the COP26 agreement will be remembered as the ‘Glasgow get-out clause’ as rich countries once again shirk their responsibility and put the world on track for a rise in climate pollution and further devastation.

The UK is said to have delivered the most exclusionary COP on record. Fossil fuel lobbyists outnumbered the largest group of national delegates, while many people from the frontlines of climate impacts were shut out of Glasgow due to restrictive visas, soaring travel costs and vaccine apartheid.

Friends of the Earth gives reactions as negotiations end.

Sara Shaw, Climate justice and energy programme coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, said from Glasgow:
“The final outcome of COP26 leaves developed countries free to keep polluting whilst giving the green light for massive land grabs for offsets in developing countries. The UK Presidency and their allies are patting themselves on the back but no deal at all would have been better.”

“It is nothing less than a scandal. Just saying the words 1.5 degrees is meaningless if there is nothing in the agreement to deliver it. COP26 will be remembered as a betrayal of global South countries – abandoned to the climate crisis with no money for the energy transition, adaptation or loss and damage.

“Perhaps it is no surprise that this was the moment a deal was finally forced through on carbon markets which are a free pass for rich countries reluctant to cut emissions. Many Southern delegates struggled to attend or make their voices heard, but fossil fuel corporations were present in force.

“This deal on carbon markets could mean a rise in global emissions. Combined with a weak commitment to ‘net zero’ by mid century and the inclusion of seductive sounding ‘nature-based-solutions’, which is code for massive tree planting in the global South, this deal will fuel a grabbing of Indigenous and developing countries’ land for carbon offsets, not to mention a rush for unproven technofixes.

“The 150,000 people out on the streets for climate justice in Glasgow know the solutions to the climate crisis: a just transition to a world without fossil fuels and climate finance flowing from developed to developing countries. Disgracefully, rich countries opted instead for the Glasgow ‘get-out clause’ while hanging developing countries out to dry.”

Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Head of Campaigns commented:
“COP26 will be remembered as a historic failure to close the gap on 1.5oC, where rich nations shamelessly shirked their responsibility to clean up the mess that they created.

“Countries including the UK, the US and the EU are failing to cut climate pollution fast enough, failing to deliver the finance they owe countries already bearing the brunt of climate breakdown, and instead spending their energy inventing loopholes and get out clauses to avoid taking action.

“Despite this, we leave COP26 with real hope in our hearts, because people all over the world are rising up to demand climate justice in greater strength and unity than ever before.

“We’ve come together here in Glasgow as a powerful and diverse movement that recognises the root cause of the climate crisis is an economic system which is also driving multiple other injustices we are struggling against – poverty, racism, sexisim, nature destruction to name but a few.

“We are rising up against this system that prioritises profit over people, and we will not give up until we have created the better world we know is possible.”

Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland commented:

“The road to 1.5 just got harder when these talks should have cleared the way to making it a whole lot easier.

“The UK government cunningly curated announcements throughout this fortnight so that it seemed rapid progress was being made. Here we are though, and the Glasgow get-out clause means that leaders failed to phase out fossil fuels and the richest countries won’t pay historic climate debt.

“With the COP moment over, countries should break away from the pack in their race for meaningful climate action and let history judge the laggards. The UK, as a country with huge historical responsibility for emissions, can end support for a mega gas project in Mozambique, pull the plug on the Cambo oil field, stop the new coal mine in Cumbria and drilling for oil in Surrey. After all the Prime Minister talked a big game at the beginning of the fortnight.”

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Photos from COP26 are available for use under Creative Commons on Friends of the Earth International’s Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/foei

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.