Climate campaigners say the COP26 agreement is set to be the ‘Glasgow get-out clause’ as rich countries shirk their responsibility and put the world on track for a rise in climate pollution and the devastation of countries already hardest hit by climate change.

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 close and the summit nears its end.

Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate justice and energy coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, commented from Mozambique:

“With so little global south representation, it is no surprise that wealthy countries are pushing through false solutions that will allow them to continue their climate-trashing, business-as-usual activities.

“Rich countries are forcing through an agreement full of escape hatches: carbon markets, ‘nature based solutions’ and ‘net zero by the middle of the century’ are all ways for them to get out of making the real emissions cuts we need to prevent climate catastrophe.”

Sara Shaw, Climate justice and energy programme coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, said from Glasgow:

“We are witnessing the ‘great Glasgow get-out.’ After making a series of flashy announcements full of caveats and loopholes, rich countries and the UK Presidency are rushing to close a deal that heaps responsibility for emissions cuts on developing countries, without providing the money they need to move away from fossil fuels.”

At COP25 in Madrid, big polluters like Shell, Total and BP launched offsetting schemes for so-called ‘nature based solutions’. Now, at COP26 we see nature-based solutions in all but name bang in the middle of the draft agreement. But there simply aren’t enough land and trees in the world to soak up the emissions that big polluters are planning.

Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Head of Campaigns commented on peoples’ movement outside the COP:

“COP26 has failed to close the gap on 1.5oC, but outside in the streets we’ve seen the biggest climate justice demonstration in the UK ever.

“We’ve come together 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.

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

Jamie Peters, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland campaigns director, commented on the hypocrisy of the UK government:

“As the minutes tick down, responsibility and how to ramp up climate finance should be the theme of negotiations. But instead, it looks like rich countries are preparing their escape hatch.

“There is a worrying gap between existing commitments and the deeper cuts needed to get to the key COP goal of 1.5 degrees. Additionally, the hypocrisy of the UK as hosts remains clear because of ongoing support for damaging fossil fuels projects like the Cambo oil field, a new coal mine in Cumbria, and the gas mega-project in Mozambique.

“We need to leave oil and gas where it is, accelerate emissions reductions, and increase financial support from richer countries responsible for climate chaos. It’s that simple.”

Campaigners highlighted how a looming agreement on carbon markets would lead to a rise in global emissions, and open the doors for further landgrabs, food insecurity and rights violations in developing countries.

Also ‘Net Zero’ by mid-century is too distant and dangerous. It gives rich countries permission to keep polluting, based on balancing out emissions with offsets and technofixes, a fantasy. The UK Presidency said it wanted to keep 1.5 degrees alive, but it is now on life support.

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Global Witness analysis shows at least 503 fossil fuel lobbyists were admitted to the climate talks. https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/fossil-gas/flooding-zone-hundreds-fossil-fuel-lobbyists-granted-access-cop26/

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.