12.November 2021

COP26 as a meet and greet of the Global North – male, pale and stale

From the very beginning, attending this year’s COP has been challenging for civil society groups and delegates from Global South countries. The way to organizing the COP, whilst the world is still facing a global pandemic and people unequally suffer its consequences, has been sided with much controversy.

Attendance for civil society from the Global South has always been challenging, due to financial as well as travel restrictions. This year’s COP and the measures by the UK presidency however, has excluded even more voices of the most vulnerable, most affected and least heard people during these negotiations. We wish to express our concern that this year’s COP is far from inclusive. Already, the planning of the event reflected a lack of transparency and communication. Decisions made by the UK government had been communicated in a haphazard manner, with confusion surrounding the nomination process and vaccination and travel requirements. Although we were cognizant of issues relating to the pandemic and the inability to accurately predict conditions for such a large event, along with the associated planning challenges, we joined the voices in advance of the COP26 stating that an in-person COP would be neither feasible nor advisable. The Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) had for these reasons, alongside other civil society organizations, demanded the postponement of the COP26. Going through with the original plan from the UK presidency, this COP26 has be one of the most whites and most privileged COPs ever and this is reflected in regressions on gender and human rights in the negotiation outcomes.

Gender and Human Rights Cut - Financial Targets Not Reached

Countries of the Global North could not agree on a fund for loss and damage but mere technical support, leaving countries from the Global South without these financial resources urgently needed to face climate change impacts, says Gotelind Alber, co-founder of GenderCC. For the emission trading scheme human rights were watered down, while market believers got their way by introducing credits, which do not have to meet any sustainability and human rights criteria. For Indigenous Peoples and frontline communities this means facing climate disasters without adequate financial supported, while their territorial rights and lands are at risk to be affected by the global carbon markets!

Nuclear Power is not green!

We are worried, says Farina Hoffmann, how nuclear power was advocated as a solution to the energy transition at COP26. Nuclear power is dangerous, expensive, leaves large amounts of radioactive waste, pollutes lands and people and violates human and Indigenous rights! Unlike what lobbyists would like to make us believe, Hoffmann argues, Uranium mining and milling is very energy intensive and leads to large amounts of CO2 emissions. Women are more likely to suffer and die of radiation-induced cancer and have led the fight against nuclear power all over the world, she adds. We will rise against these false solutions again!

The COP26 has shown that critical voices from the Global South were missing. It gave more than 500 lobbyists of oil, gas and nuclear energy and countries from the Global North the chance to advocate their agenda of false solutions through market mechanisms, nature-based solutions and net zero promises! Key demands of the Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) such as keeping 1.5°C alive, delivering on finance, loss and damage, as well as putting gender and human rights at the center of Article 6 and the implementation of the Paris Agreement were not met.

*The title is a quote from Greta Thunberg and Laura Young.