The fossil fuel ‘elephant’ is not even in the room at the UN climate summit

The mere mention of phasing out fossil fuels in UN climate summit texts is not enough to save humanity or the planet, and the oil and gas lobby is further weakening commitments in Glasgow, they say. international environmental groups.

Vigorous commitments to phase out fossil fuels and end subsidies to the oil and gas sector must occur during the final hours of negotiations COP26 to avoid a climate catastrophe, said Harjeet Singh of Climate Action Network (CAN) International during a press conference on Friday morning.

“We all know that fossil fuels have been the main cause of the problem, but this elephant has not even been in the room,” he said, adding that the 2015 UN Paris Agreement, the current global plan to address the climate crisis makes no mention of phasing out fossil fuels.

However, a mention of cutting carbon in the latest draft negotiating text has weakened, Singh said, undermining already insufficient commitments on fossil fuels.

An earlier version of the draft text urged countries to “accelerate the phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies.” The latest draft coming out of COP26 on Friday morning, the last official day of the conference, instead pushes for the phasing out of “constant coal power” and an end to “inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.”

Catherine Abreu, founder of the climate advocacy group Destination Zero and a member of Canada’s net-zero advisory body, highlighted the irony that after three decades, climate summits are still not structured to address the biggest problem.

“This process that we designed … to take collective action on the climate crisis, has had almost nothing to say about the predominant cause of the climate crisis: the production and combustion of fossil fuels,” Abreu said.

“It is as if we build a whole multilateral system to tackle a global pandemic and never let it be said that the virus that caused the pandemic was COVID-19.”

Abreu wrote down the number of Fossil Fuel Lobbyists at COP26 it outnumbers even the official delegations of the largest nations at the summit.

“We have sadly seen the hand of fossil fuel interests interfering with that text to dilute it with weasel words like ‘coal unabated’ or subsidies for ‘inefficient fossil fuels,'” he said, noting that such language has been used in negotiations before. , and without concrete actions or eliminations stipulated in the COP26 agreements, there will be no possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 C to avoid dire climate impacts.

Mentioning fossil fuels in UN climate summit texts is not enough to save humanity or the planet, say international environmental groups. # COP26 # COP26xCNO

Catherine Abreu, founder of Destination Zero, said the number of fossil fuel lobbyists outnumbered even the official delegations from the largest nations at the UN climate conference in Glasgow. Screenshot of COP26

The world’s five richest nations – Canada, the US, Australia, Norway and the UK – are spending more than $ 150 billion of taxpayers’ money on fossil fuels, Abreu said, referring to a new report: Fossil fuel 5, which describes the widening gap between nations’ rhetoric on climate action and their plans to increase fossil fuel production.

Ottawa has pledged to increase the price of carbon, but has also provided approximately $ 17 billion in public funding for three fossil fuel pipelines between 2018 and 2020, according to the study prepared by the University of Sussex in cooperation with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.

Tzeporah Berman, president of the treaty and director of’s international program, noted that Canada touts itself as a global climate leader, but its emissions have continued to rise since the signing of the Paris Agreement.

“The Canadian government subsidizes the sector more than any other G20 nation,” Berman said, adding that the report illustrates why Ottawa is blocking any binding agreement to reduce fossil fuel production at the UN summit.

“It is not too late to change things,” he said, urging Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment minister, to go home and put a significant cap on emissions from the oil and gas industry.

“Canada can then rejoin the international negotiating table with the real intention of being part of the solution, rather than accelerating the climate emergency,” he said.

Climate activists in Glasgow called on world leaders to cut fuels by five percent annually as recommended by the UN Environment Program Report, instead of expanding production to levels that double those necessary to reach the thresholds established in the Paris Agreement.

Eriel Deranger, executive director of Indigenous Climate Action, noted that, in addition to keeping oil on the ground, indigenous and human rights must be explicitly outlined in any final agreement at COP26.

In particular, carbon trading and offsets linked to nature-based solutions pose the risk of neocolonial land grabbing, pushing indigenous peoples and communities out of their territories as states and corporations monetize the land. environment, he said.

“We are talking about mechanisms that commodify our lands and territories and the sacred places that are deeply intertwined with our identities and who we are,” he said, noting that many of the world’s indigenous peoples do not yet have sovereignty over their territories.

“We must not simply call for an end to fossil fuels, we must work to decolonize our systems to ensure that all voices are adequately represented and our rights are protected.”

Young people outside the entrance gates of COP26 on Friday chant: “Hey ho! Fossil fuels have to disappear!” Photo by Adrienne Tanner / National Observer of Canada

Human rights activist Kumi Naidoo lashed out at world leaders’ willingness to “play political poker with the future of the planet” and ongoing subsidies, and criticized their continued deference to the fossil fuel industry.

“We need to understand that one more penny in any new fossil fuel project is the investment in the destruction of our children and their children,” Naidoo said.

The planet, one way or another, will ultimately survive the looming climate catastrophe – it is humanity that is at risk of extinction, he said.

“We cannot change science,” Naidoo said. “All that is within our ability is to change the political will.”

Naidoo had a message for those around the world and at the summit struggling to drive real change to mitigate the climate crisis and who might be demoralized by the potentially “bland” outcomes of COP26.

“Don’t lose hope,” Naidoo said.

“Those who are pushing here for the worst results want you to feel desperate. They want me to feel like our efforts don’t count. ”

Inaction at the summit should prompt civil society and the Global South to duplicate their efforts, he added.

“The message we must take from this COP is that this is a time of intensifying resistance to the fossil fuel industry. This is a license for us. ”

Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer

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