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COP26 Legitimacy At Stake

COP26 Legitimacy at Stake

COP26 legitimacy at stake

COP26 blahblah –

The fossil fuel industry has the largest delegation above all countries at the summit.

As we enter the second week of COP26, and ‘adaptation, loss and damage day’ takes place, the legitimacy of the summit is being questioned by society. Loss and damage day is supposedly about protecting the people and the habitats from the worst effects of climate change. The irony is that in order to do so, they need to tackle the emissions of the richest, because they’re hugely responsible for the climate crisis, yet it’s the poorest that are paying the highest price. In fact, the carbon footprint of the world’s richest 1% is on track to be 30 times higher than what’s needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, a study says. Following that statistic, you’d assume that the world’s richest leaders are doing all they can to create an inclusive balance of voices at COP26, across all nations, however that’s far from the case.

Observers of COP26 act as informal referees, to ensure proceedings of the summit are transparent, clear and reflect the concerns of communities and groups most likely to be affected by the decisions and promises made. However, their ability to observe over the last week has been highly obstructed by COVID restrictions and maximum capacities that have subsequently been set. For example, one tweet suggested that the biggest negotiating room at COP26 has space for 144 people. There are 197 Parties to the UNFCCC. The observers represent hundreds of indigenous, environmental, academic, climate justice and women’s rights organisations, and excluding them from negotiations for one reason or another, just creates further injustice.

So, who is attending COP26 negotiations then?

The fossil fuel industry has the largest delegation at COP26. Global Witness assessed the participant list published by the UN and found that “503 people with links to fossil fuel interests, had been accredited for the climate summit.” Campaigners and many others, believe that their attendance should be banned, let alone be the largest presence at the conference, and a priority over indigenous groups and less developed countries delegates. “The fossil fuel industry has spent decades denying and delaying real action on the climate crisis, which is why this is such a huge problem,” says Murray Worthy from Global Witness.

The fossil fuel industry would argue that their delegates are there to discuss the transition towards cleaner energy, which they admit will not be completely shut off overnight. However, campaign groups argue that people will not get serious about cutting carbon emissions, until anyone with an association to the industry is banned from events such as this.

Under the Paris Agreement, all countries agreed to address the “loss and damage associated with climate change impacts”. Since then, many rich countries and responsible industries have strongly resisted providing specific finance for this, as they do not want to accept liability for the damage made and subsequently risk being sued by climate vulnerable nations. Campaigners have estimated vulnerable nations need at least $300bn to respond to loss and damage in 2030 and it is up to the richest nations and industries that caused that damage to step up and pay back.

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