Rich countries stage a great escape from their climate responsibilities

The aftermath of COP26 – The ‘Glasgow get-out clause’

After two weeks of  discussions and negotiations COP26 in Glasgow, governments have agreed to a weak climate deal which puts our planet on a perilous path which will most likely not prevent a 1.5C plus rise in global temperatures. As a result the parties presented an 11-page document called the Glasgow Climate Pact, or as Friends of the Earth said on the last day of scheduled talks the ‘great Glasgow get-out clause.’

Developed countries shirked their responsibility and put the world on track for a rise in emissions and devastation of countries which are already hardest effected by climate change. Furtherly, the UK has managed to deliberately exclude climate-vulnerable countries. The fossil fuel lobby were welcomed, while many people from the frontlines of climate impacts were shut out by restrictive visas, soaring travel costs and vaccine apartheid.

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 COP 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.

The EU came to Glasgow to push for carbon markets and other loopholes to avoid real emissions reductions. While eyes were on Glasgow the European Commission was at the same time putting forward fossil mega gas projects worth billions of Euros. The EU claims to be a bloc founded on solidarity but has failed in Glasgow to show true solidarity with developing nations and those worst impacted and most vulnerable.

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.

Marika Schoenherr, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Malta, commented on the results and her experience in Glasgow:

“As a young activist and at the same time citizen of the EU, I am very disappointed by the poor results of the summit. The pact offers too many loopholes for rich countries to continue their dirty business and exploit the global south. It’s ironic that the ‘solidary’ EU publicly states to cut emissions, while at the same time negotiates about new gigantic fossil fuel projects and also, supports an extraordinary exclusive COP. It was also ironic that whilst the UK government was hosting COP26 in Glasgow, it plans to forge ahead with Cambo, a new oil field to the west of the Shetland Islands.

What was very inspiring in Glasgow though, was the energy amongst the activist groups. It was inspiring to come together with thousands of people knowing that we all work together for a common goal, a just and healthy future!”

Martin Galea De Giovanni, director for Friends of the Earth Malta, added that “the target to go ‘net zero by mid-century’ is too distant and a dangerous fantasy. Instead, it offers a loophole for rich countries to keep polluting, based on balancing out emissions with offsets. The UK Presidency said it wanted to keep 1.5 degrees alive, but the future of our planet is now on life support.”

As the climate summit drew to a close, Friends of the Earth and other civil society groups and climate justice movements from across the globe come together at an alternative ‘People’s Plenary’ to stand firm on the just and urgent outcome needed at COP26.