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Ever since the first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-1) held in Berlin from March 28 to April 7, 1995, the world has been hoping for the best outcomes. However, even with the raised hopes and anticipations that there will be solutions to the climate crisis the outcomes have not showed the seriousness needed to solve the problem.

COP26 held in Glasgow, UK, in 2021 was not different from what we have been seeing in the past COPs.

Background to COP26

It is obvious that the market powered by dependence on fossil fuels created the climate problem and mechanisms of the market will not solve it.

The common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) should be a good base for global climate action as it is the foundational justice basis of the UNFCCC. It requires that although everyone must act to tackle global heating, those most responsible should take the most action, provide the finance and share useful technology.

Copenhagen Accord, outcome of COP15, jettisoned binding emissions reduction by Annex 1 nations and introduced voluntary emissions reduction.

Paris Agreement, outcome of COP 21 consolidated the voluntary emissions reduction pathways, and set temperature targets at 1.5C and well below 2C.

NDCs introduced by the PA means a treatment of a global problem as though it were a national problem. This clearly cannot solve the problem.

What was at stake at COP26

The 6th Report of IPCC review indicated dire climate change indices for the planet, more so for Africa. The report stated that:

  • There will be increases in fire weather conditions; increases in mean wind speed; increase of average tropical cyclone wind speeds and associated heavy precipitation and of the proportion of category 4-5 tropical cyclones.
  • Projected increase in dryness from 1.5°C, higher confidence with increasing global warming.
  • Increase in river flooding; and projected increase in meteorological droughts at GWL 4°, mostly in seasonal timescales.
  • Climate change will amplify the existing stress on water availability in Africa.
  • Climate change will increase the burden of a range of climate-relevant health outcomes and a multiplier of existing health vulnerabilities (high confidence), including insufficient access to safe water and improve sanitation, food insecurity, and limited access to health care and education.
  • Ocean ecosystems, in particular coral reefs, will be affected by ocean acidification and warming
  • as well as changes in ocean upwellings, thus negatively affecting economic sectors such as fisheries.
  • Summation of NDCs showed that the world was headed for 2.7C temperature increase above preindustrial levels.
  • Net Zero postulations quickly adopted by nations mainly because it defers action. These fictional postulations moderated expected temperature rise to 2.4C.
  • Africa suffers temperatures 50% above global average. 2.4C would mean 3.6C for Africa. This will be catastrophic for Africa.
  • Climate finance of $100 billion per year still a mirage.
  • What was the outcome?
  • Glasgow Climate Pact is a mere whimper as far as climate actions and solutions are concerned.
  • The Pact referred to climate justice as something that is important only to some people. This position is unbelievable and shows that the COP is heading for a dead-end and the justice basis of the UNFCCC is severely eroded.
  • The Pact did not recommend a phasing out of fossil fuels – the main driver of climate change, but rather called for a phase down of subsidies on coal. This is a clear insult to upcoming generations that require a future.
  • Climate finance still mere promises.
  • COP26 was highly exclusionary. There were only two delegates per nation in the negotiation rooms. COVID19 provision a basis for exclusion of many voices and constituencies.
  • Some side events were held virtually without in-person participants.
  • What are the implications?
  • Fossil fuels investments set to continue to grow. In Oil Change International’s report, Sky’s Limit Africa, we learn that the fossil fuel industry plans to sink $230 billion into the development of new extraction projects in Africa in the next decade and up to $1.4 trillion by 2050.
  • Nigerian government claims right to use fossil fuels for development and energy provision.
  • What is to be done?
  • A total phasing out of all forms of fossil fuel across Africa and globally – through the promotion of Real Zero, Not Net Zero. Phasing out fossil fuels will give a chance for the recovery of the Niger Delta and avoid a repeat of catastrophic oil spills such as the Aiteo OML 29 oilwell blowout.
  • The IPCC solutions of emission reducing to 1.5 degrees Celsius is faulty because 1.5 degrees in the Global North means 2.5 or 3 degrees Celsius in Africa – this means Africa will be burning if emission from extractive activities are allowed to continue.
  • Proposing real climate solutions, not false solutions (such as Geo-engineering, GMOs, REDD+, Net Zero etc) – the struggle is about justice today and not a promissory note that may not ever be fulfilled, or that would be of no consequence by 2050 should the planet have already stepped into catastrophic climate change by that time.
  • All forms of investment in fossil fuel industries and subsides should be channeled to promoting a people centered Just transition and subsidising of renewable energy across the African continent. According to a report by Oil Change International ‘Sky’s Limit Africa, we learn that the fossil fuel industry plans to sink $230 billion into the development of new extraction projects in Africa in the next decade and up to $1.4 trillion by 2050.
  • Stop gas flaring in Nigeria and elsewhere.
  • Replace the COP with a Climate Change Conference of Peoples. When Copenhagen flopped, Bolivia convened the Peoples Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba April 2010. With more than 30,000 delegates from over 100 countries, the peoples of the world came out with a clear roadmap for climate action as well as the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.
  • Nature Based Solutions should be clearly defined as solutions that work with nature, respect local knowledge and are not used as an excuse for land/sea grabbing and displacement of indigenous communities.
  • Promote agroecology which builds healthy soils and cools the planet rather than destructive industrial/colonial agriculture that.
  • All governments need to urgently go back to a binding global emissions reduction rather than the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which according to the UN computations of submissions made so far will lead the world to a calamitous temperature increase of up to 2.7oC above preindustrial levels.
  • Ensure a global just transition to 100% access to renewable energy, with no corporate and no extensive base, that contribute to energy sovereignty, support for dependent economies to diversify away from fossil fuels, and enable all people and communities, especially in the Global South, to flourish.

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