A Free-Market Energy Blog

Another COP26 Postponment? (fossil fuels winning anyway)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 8, 2021

“Vaccine inequity, unaffordable accommodation, travel challenges and new surges in the Covid19 pandemic will lock out huge numbers of developing country delegates from the UN climate talks set to take place in November.” (Climate Action Network, September 7, 2021)

Add “incremental emissions” to the above, and it is quandary time in Glasgow, UK.

Last March, the resurgence of the Pandemic led to talk about a second postponement. Now, the wolf is at the door. With a global fossil-fuel boom in evidence, and international cooperation to reduce CO2 in disarray, this is an opportunity for COP26 to go “net zero.”

The following statement from Climate Action Network International, “COP26 Must the Postponed,” was just released:

Climate Action Network (CAN), a global network of more than 1500 civil society organisations in over 130 countries working together to fight the climate emergency, has today called for the UN climate talks – COP26 – to be postponed. The conference is set to take place in early November.

With just two months to go, it is evident that a safe, inclusive and just global climate conference is impossible given the failure to support the access to vaccines to millions of people in poor countries, the rising costs of travel and accommodation, and the uncertainty in the course of the Covid19 pandemic.

An in-person COP in early November would de facto exclude many government delegates, civil society campaigners and journalists, particularly from Global South countries, many of which are on the UK’s Covid19 ‘red list’. 

This exclusion poses serious and long-lasting implications for issues that will be under deliberation at this COP and that are extremely important to developing countries, including on climate finance, loss and damage and carbon market rules, among others.

The full and meaningful representation of those on the frontlines of the climate emergency is critical to produce a credible political outcome from COP26. 

Our concern is that those countries most deeply affected by the climate crisis and those countries suffering from the lack of support by rich nations in providing vaccines will be left out of the talks and be conspicuous by their absence at COP26. There has always been an inherent power imbalance within the UN climate talks, between rich and poor nations, and this is now compounded by the health crisis. Looking at the current timeline for COP26, it is difficult to imagine there can be fair participation from the Global South under safe conditions and it should therefore be postponed,” said Tasneem Essop, Executive Director, Climate Action Network.

“This issue of participation at COP26 is a microcosm of the larger patterns of global injustice and exclusion that we see playing out. CAN has advocated for vaccine equity and a TRIPS waiver on Covid19 vaccines since the start of this year and called out the UK for failing to support a patent waiver at the G7 Summit back in June. Today, 57% of Europe is fully vaccinated while just about 3% of Africa is. Our fight for climate justice and our efforts to hold those in power accountable cannot be delinked from the root causes that continue to perpetuate such inequality and injustice. The climate talks are important but against the current context of vaccine apartheid they simply cannot proceed by locking out the voices of those who especially need to be heard at this time,” added Essop.

While the UK COP26 Presidency promised to fast-track vaccines to delegates in need of them, those who applied for this are yet to receive their first jabs as of today. We note that the UK COP Presidency has now announced that delegates will be vaccinated this week. 

Repeated requests to the UK Presidency for clarity around support for logistics and quarantine costs have also not been forthcoming or made public. 

The UK has been too slow in delivering its vaccines support to delegates in vulnerable countries and their quarantine requirements come with some eye-watering hotel costs. Some delegates are finding they cannot transit because some of the major travel hubs are closed and the alternative travel costs are beyond the reach of poorer governments and smaller civil society organisations. If COP26 goes ahead as currently planned, I fear it is only the rich countries and NGOs from those countries that would be able to attend.

This flies in the face of the principles of the UN process and opens the door for a rich-nations stitch-up of the talks.  A climate summit without the voices of those most affected by climate change is not fit for its purpose,” said Mohamed Adow, long-time observer of the talks and Director of the Nairobi-based think tank Power Shift Africa.

“Authentic climate solutions exist but what is missing is genuine solidarity. Like the pandemic, the climate and biodiversity emergency knows no boundaries or nationalities, but it is those least responsible who are the worst impacted. Equity, safety, action and accountability – all of the ingredients for solidarity – must be central to COP26 being the success it has to be. This can only be achieved through timely vaccine access and financial support for quarantine expenses – these elements are all lacking.

Rebuilding the essential multilateral trust required for a successful COP26 also means supporting the TRIPS waiver for a People’s Vaccine, delivering on commitments for climate finance for the most vulnerable countries, and kicking fossil fuels out of politics once and for all,” said Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International

CAN acknowledges the difficulties in holding a COP during a pandemic. This call to postpone COP26 does not in any way imply a postponement of urgent climate action or a boycott of the climate talks. As accredited observers to the UN climate negotiations, CAN has been a key player in every COP since 1995, advocating for the strongest response from governments to the climate emergency.
We will continue our work to push political leaders to deliver ambitious national climate targets, fulfil their responsibilities on climate finance, phase out fossil fuels and address the needs of the most vulnerable people experiencing loss and damage.

Escalating climate impacts all over the world and the most recent IPCC report are a reminder that consistent, urgent and transformative action on the ground to avert the worst of the climate crisis is needed everyday, day after day.

We continue to hold those in power accountable to this.   

Postponement 1: 2020

In April 2020, the BBC stated in Cop26: Why experts hope cancelling the climate event could help the planet:

And some officials have said there could be a positive to COP26 being cancelled…. because it’s a real opportunity for governments to spend that money on lots of sustainable and renewable projects that can be discussed there.

Said Stephanie Pfeifer from the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC):

Moving the summit back improves the likelihood of a strong outcome and ensuring that the world is put on a path to tackle the climate crisis.

Turning bad news into good is part of the COP26 spin, as it has been for nearly 30 years with the United Nations effort to dislodge from modern mineral energies chosen by free consumers.

Meanwhile, fossil fuels and the planet move on.

One Comment for “Another COP26 Postponment? (fossil fuels winning anyway)”

  1. John W. Garrett  

    Meanwhile, NPR promotes this crap:

    “To Avoid Extreme Disasters, Most Fossil Fuels Should Stay Underground, Scientists Say”
    by Lauren Sommer

    With tens of thousands of people displaced by floods, wildfires and hurricanes this summer, researchers warn that the majority of untapped fossil fuels must remain in the ground to avoid even more extreme weather.

    Fossil fuel producers should avoid extracting at least 90% of coal reserves and 60% of oil and gas reserves by 2050, according to a study published in Nature, to limit global temperature rise to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Even then, that only gives the planet a 50% chance of avoiding a climate hotter than that.

    Global temperatures have already warmed about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1800s, due in large part to burning fossil fuels, which releases gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. As a result of the warming, droughts, storms and heat waves are becoming more extreme, causing a cascade of disasters.

    The study finds that global coal and oil use would need to peak almost immediately and begin declining 3% annually until 2050. Even that rate is likely an underestimate of what’s needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the study’s authors say.
    Article continues after sponsor message

    “We’re a long way from the types of production decline implied by the paper in this analysis,” says Steve Pye, associate professor of energy systems at the University College London and an author on the study. “Fossil fuel producers and investors need to recognize that in the main, further investment in fossil fuel combustion is not compatible.”

    Worldwide, countries are on track to use around double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than is needed to limit warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme. Global coal use is projected to rebound this year after a lag due to the Covid-19 pandemic downturn.

    In the U.S., coal power is already on the decline, because both natural gas and renewable energy have become significantly cheaper. The Biden Administration just released a roadmap showing how solar energy could potentially power 40% of the nation’s electricity grid by 2035.

    While some European energy companies are increasing their investments in renewable energy, U.S. companies are sticking with fossil fuels in the hope that carbon capture technology, which traps emissions from burning coal or natural gas, will develop to a point where it becomes economical.

    Democrats in Congress are currently working to include a “clean electricity standard” in a multi-trillion dollar budget package, which could zero-out greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 2035. With a slim political majority on Capitol HIll, Democrats face an uphill battle in passing the proposal, which is one of the core tenets of the Biden Administration’s climate policy.

    Globally, the Biden Administration will join world leaders in November for the next round of climate negotiations at the COP26 conference, where scientists say nations will need to commit to much steeper reductions in emissions for any hope of avoiding more catastrophic disasters in the future.


Leave a Reply