COP26 rounded up in Glasgow over a week ago with a pact that its UN backers insist keeps the goal of limiting rising temperatures to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels alive, even if on life support.  

The climate action tracker has predicted that if the targets are met from COP26, the estimated temperature rise above pre-industrial levels is approximately 2.4°C, a reduction from 2.7°C, though our current policies still put us on track for the higher temperature. However, this will still cause displacement and death to millions from the Global South, including loss of entire countries and ecosystems. 

There were small successes such as the words “coal” and “fossil fuels” being used for the first time, however the deal ended with a last minute change in the language regarding coal from “phase out” to “phase down”.

Loss and damage payments were finally acknowledged, but progress was blocked by the US, the EU and other rich nations, pushing the conversation on desperately needed climate reparations back yet another year. 

Although activists expected limited success from such an exclusive conference in which the fossil fuel industry had the largest delegation, many of them had hoped for much more, and believe the outcome to be a betrayal of countries on the frontline of the climate crisis. 

I spoke directly to activists in the areas most affected by climate change about their thoughts on the outcome of COP26, and what the climate justice movement needs to consider moving forwards. 

Mduduzi Tshabalala, Extinction Rebellion Vaal Co-founder, South Africa

Photo of Mduduzi Thshabalala
Photo of Mduduzi Tshabalala

“In my opinion, the world’s citizens have been taken for another long roller coaster ride by the COP26 Glasgow Agreement. No amount of coal and science will help deliver reliable energy to citizens, to businesses or create development, especially in countries like South Africa; yet we see how bullish the coal industry has remained. Coal does not provide reliable energy supply, it causes an ecological burden, and much of it is siphoned out of our country.

“Renewable energy projects across the world demonstrate the energy potential for South Africa.”

Renewable energy projects across the world demonstrate the energy potential for South Africa. South Africa received about R134bn ((equivelant to £6bn), a fund announced at COP26, as a committed fund raised to curb pollution and develop renewable energy projects.  We know that Mr President and his close friends have a corrupt hand in the fund; the brothers in law have a R50bn project waiting, that was recently signed off by the Presidency.”

Follow groups affiliated with XR Vaal on Facebook, XR Gauteng and Botle Ba Tlhaha Environmental Group.

Shamim Wasii Nyanda Tanzania, Doors of Hope Foundation Founder and Extinction Rebellion Tanzania coordinator, Tanzania

Photo of Shamim holding and XR branded poster reading 'We Can't Eat Money' 'Extinction Rebellion Tanzania'
Shamim Wasii Nyanda on the beach with XR placard

“COP26 has failed although all hope is not gone for me. It is a failure but a stepping stone. It failed to address many specific climate change problems like animal rights, mountain glaciers, people with albinism and ocean acidification. I was hoping there wouldn’t need to be a COP27 – but with all the crises happening around the globe now, despite the COP26 efforts, there is a need for COP27. And this time round I hope that all climate change problems are addressed.

A period of awareness creation before the event was very important, especially in Africa. People cannot support what they do not know or fight for what they do not know. Most people in Africa have no idea of what climate change is and what damage will come along with this. Imagine if they all had a good understanding of the situation, then the rich world would have paid off their debts without hesitation. At least let’s have means of letting the community know what they are fighting for.

“People cannot fight for what they do not know.”

Most of us during our actions were doing it only as youths and adults. Remember the little ones can learn and make a great change in the future. I urge that COP27 should find means of addressing climate change problems by putting into consideration what children can do for Mother Nature. That way we will be nurturing an environment protecting generation. All hope is not gone, we can still do better next time.”

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Yudi Iskandar, Extinction Rebellion Indonesia National Coordinator, Makassar, Indonesia

“Whilst the COP26 conference was underway, our country is being drowned by rising seawater and extreme rain. Millions of people have had to evacuate and suffer from the catastrophic climate crisis. We are terrified all the time, we can’t sleep because disasters keep coming. We in the Global South need justice, and for world leaders at COP26 to please stop killing us.

The Climate and Ecological Emergency is a human rights issue which is being carried out by the authorities and the owners of capital against the poor and vulnerable. Our actions must charge the most powerful in the world with mass murder with gross negligence. The COP process is systematically undermined by vested interests. It only values ​​injustice and failure.

COP26 was a tale of broken promises, reckless greed, and extraordinary failures that have spanned since the COP was first held. 26 meetings have failed to prevent us from heading for disaster as emissions continue to rise. Meanwhile, the promise to help the Global South has been broken, whilst the Global North continues to enjoy its carbon-rich lifestyle.

Still a major player at COP26, both government and business leaders are there to ensure there is no disruption to the status quo. They just present fake accounting, greenwashed credentials, and fake climate policies. They don’t want to change a system that benefits the few, even if earth defenders are killed, nature and wildlife, entire communities and ecosystem services are sacrificed.

“COP26 was a tale of broken promises, reckless greed, and extraordinary failures that have spanned since the COP was first held.”

Our politicians are fatally compromised. Despite their claims of climate leadership, the reality is that most countries fail to implement policies that are consistent with 1.5 degrees. Several polluters failed to successfully deliver emission reduction plans before COP26, and countries have spent $40 billion more on fossil fuels than clean energy since the pandemic. This is an immoral, greedy failure and it kills us.

Net zero in 2050 is an irresponsible climate scam on steroids, a blind gamble with our future at stake and a cover for lethal inaction. It is used by governments and corporations to avoid responsibilities, and in some cases even to increase fossil fuel extraction and emissions. Net zero by 2050 is evident in the unrealistic planting of trees and technologies capable of sucking carbon dioxide from the air in the future. The only safe and fair option is to reduce emissions at the source. In May, an IEA report concluded that there would be no oil, gas or coal development if the world only reached net zero by 2050.

If they were serious about 1.5 degrees, in Glasgow, the government would have moved heaven and earth to achieve Global net zero by 2030, and most importantly will seriously facilitate a just transition to sustainable production in poor countries. However, the COP process designed by the United Nations is systematically undermined and subverted by powerful corporate interests. 

There is nothing on the table following COP26 that resembles a sane, compassionate and functional response to a crisis. It is clear what a sane, fair and compassionate response to the climate emergency looks like, and solutions have been known for decades:

  • If the government is serious, there will be a future-style mobilization of resources and infrastructure.
  • There will be massive, appropriate funding, coming from those primarily in the corporate and financial worlds that have been spectacularly enriched by the carbon explosion, not ordinary people.
  • There will be fair climate compensation and payment for loss and damage for the Global South instead of broken promises. 
  • There will be advanced insulation so that we stop wasting billions of tons of energy leaking from buildings around the world.
  • Fossil fuel financing and subsidies will end.
  • The financing of ecosystem destruction will come to an end and there will be an international ecocide law.
  • There will be a rewiring of the system so that it serves people not greed.

Yet none of these necessary and long-understood actions takes place at the speed and scale that science demands.”

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Nyombi Morris, Youth Climate Activist, Uganda

Nyombi Morris holds a School strike for climate placard
Nyombi Morris with a School Strike placard

“The outcomes of COP26 left us angry and helpless. We feel scared and betrayed by the greediness of these so-called leaders. COP as a conference is losing meaning once the problems that we expect to be resolved continue to be ignored.

The only option right now is come together and take the lead. To keep the Paris Agreement alive and also to recover from Climate change vulnerability it will depend on how resistant we are, how far we can go and how fast we can adapt. It’s time we rise. It is time we work together.”

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François Kamate, Fossil Free Virunga Campaigner and founder of XR Rutshuru, Democratic Republic of the Congo

François Kamate holds a placard which reads 'L'insecurite alimentaire est un crime #Effondrement Total
François Kamate holds a placate, English translation: “Food insecurity is a crime #CollapseTotal”

“The results of COP26 are very disappointing. The major polluting countries should have urgently stopped the production of fossil fuels which are at the root of climate degradation.

“The climate justice movement must now step up actions to expose the failure, neglect and injustices of COP26.”

We also ask the polluting countries to help us demand: 

 -Withdrawing of all mining and oil licenses or permits in the Virunga Landscape. 

– Subsidising projects in favour of Virunga residents for the damage caused.

– Suspending the funding of the Virunga Foundation via the ICCN for non-transparency in its management.

– Development of a strategic security plan for the Virunga landscape, one of the great tourist lungs of Central Africa, in association with the Congolese state.

The climate justice movement must now step up actions to expose the failure, neglect and injustices of COP26.”

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Dero Elijah, Extinction Rebellion Great Lakes Region, Uganda

“Just like the Paris Agreement Pact of 2015 has led to little real action, it seems so will the Glasgow climate Pact of 2021. 97% of the people in the world are saying something needs to be done about the climate situation and 3% of the people and leaders from 197 countries were sending frenzied pledges that decarbonisation is on its way, that they are almost too little too late to limit global warming to 1.5°C. With 43 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually brought about by the emergence of new industries around the globe every year and the continuous extraction of oil around the world, with 8 million rainforests being destroyed annually, amongst other climate injustices, I don’t see how the pledges of the leaders in the Glasgow climate pact act at the speed needed. In fact, the Glasgow climate pact seemed to be a convention of world leaders to convene and fantasise about global warming and climate change but in reality they didn’t have any enough serious discussions about the catalogue of havoc that climate change is causing in our countries, and formulate solutions needed to meet the scale of the crisis.

My recommendations for the climate justice movement going forward are:

1. The movement must continue advocating that there is nothing normal about the environmental conditions that we are experiencing now. 

2. The movement must continue red-flagging actions that are marked and sold as solutions to mitigating climate change that are harmful false solutions.

3. The movement should continue working with local communities especially in the Global South, and develop a system of working together so as to achieve success together.”

Follow XR Uganda Great Lakes Region on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

“I don’t see how the pledges from the leaders in the Glasgow climate pact act at the speed needed”

One thing we can all take away from COP26 and the coinciding actions of activists in Glasgow and all around the globe is the successful building of the climate justice movement during this time, both on a local level and through connections with frontline activists. 

It is clearer than ever that between now and COP27 we need to continue to hear and amplify voices from the most affected people and countries, support their work and work together across borders to demand climate justice and global justice.

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