COP26: Mass protests increase pressure on the world climate conference

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After mass protests for more climate protection with tens of thousands of demonstrators in Glasgow alone, the pressure on the UN Climate Change Conference is growing. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – host of the summit in Scotland – called on Sunday for further commitments from the around 200 participating states. The declared goal is to curb the global warming to a still bearable 1.5 degrees.

In the second and last week of the mammoth meeting with almost 30,000 delegates, the delicate topic of money is on the agenda this Monday. Poor states, which are already suffering from droughts, floods and rising sea levels, insist on compensation from the rich industrialized countries. According to Greenpeace, sums running into billions are needed in developing countries.

On Friday and Saturday tens of thousands in many countries expressed their displeasure with climate protection that had been delayed for decades and called for more climate justice. The organizers spoke of more than 100,000 participants in Glasgow alone. The world’s most famous activist, the Swede Greta Thunberg (18), castigated inaction and “blah blah blah” of the major economic nations. Their conclusion: The COP26 conference is already a failure.

At the conference, around 200 countries are struggling to find out how the goal of limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times can still be achieved. According to previous plans, the summit should end on Friday.

A kind of counter-summit started in Glasgow on Sunday. The “People’s Summit” also aims to increase the pressure on the negotiators. The core demands are radical climate protection, comprehensive debt relief for all developing countries and reparation payments from industrialized countries. The COP26 Coalition – an alliance of organizations and campaigns – wrote: “We need climate protection that works for everyone, not just for the people with the most money in their pockets.”

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During the first few days, dozens of states had publicly announced commitments and commitments to more climate protection – also to give the conference momentum. According to the will of a good 130 countries, the destruction of forests is to be stopped by 2030. More than 100 countries have agreed to significantly reduce their emissions of climate-damaging methane. In the middle of the week, an alliance was formed that wants to get out of coal between 2030 and 2040. And then a good 45 countries, including Germany, agreed to convert their agriculture into a climate-friendly way.

However, there was criticism from environmental experts and climate activists: The “lightning-fast” announcements had too long deadlines, were purely voluntary and had hardly any details. For forest protection, for example, the same goal was formulated in New York in 2014 – but deforestation has accelerated since then.

At the meeting of the heads of state and government in Glasgow, numerous “bad guys” from climate policy were missing, especially China. The gigantic empire emits by far the most greenhouse gases, but does not want to start reducing its emissions until 2030. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emissions must have fallen by 45 percent in this decade in order to still achieve the 1.5 degree target agreed in Paris in 2015.

The right-wing president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, in whose country much valuable rainforest had to give way for agricultural land, also did not come. Also absent: The leaders of Russia and Saudi Arabia, whose economic model is based on gas and oil exports.

On the other hand, the USA is back on the world stage of climate policy. President Joe Biden apologized in Glasgow for his predecessor Donald Trump, who left the Paris climate agreement. Above all, however, Biden brought a well-known methane agreement with him – from the point of view of many observers, an insufficient contribution in view of the gigantic emissions of greenhouse gases for which America is also historically responsible.

And Germany? Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) is busy negotiating a traffic light coalition. She won’t come to Scotland until Thursday. Your State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth had to justify the fact that the Federal Republic has so far not made a declaration to withdraw from the financing of fossil fuel projects abroad. “There are a few questions behind that that need to be resolved seriously,” he said.

Annoyed by the hesitation of many governments, Thunberg renewed its appeal to the international community on Sunday before the start of the hot phase of COP26: “Immediate, drastic, unprecedented” annual cuts in the CO2Emissions are unavoidable. The famous “small steps in the right direction” would amount to a defeat in the fight against the climate crisis.


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