For immediate release.
Glasgow, 13 November 2021 – Despite the escalating calls around the world for urgent action and justice, COP26 has delivered only tentative and incremental progress. Those most affected by climate impacts – including Indigenous Peoples and people from the Global South, especially youth and women – are leading the way fighting for a livable future. As the conference ends, people back home will be watching to see how their governments address the ongoing disconnect between the incremental steps we have seen over the past two weeks and the urgent needs of climate justice.
Tackling the climate crisis, with its rising losses and damages, means always putting people first. It means listening to and standing in solidarity with those communities and people who are on the front lines of a warming world. COP26 has given us a reason to intensify our efforts. This summit was a test to see who was truly ready to keep 1.5°C within reach. Rich nations emphasized the importance of holding warming to 1.5oC, but have yet to prove their solidarity and willingness to do what it takes to secure a just and climate-safe future.
COP26 was not able to fix the disconnect between flashy greenwashing and real climate action. The biggest delegation at COP26 was a group of 500 fossil fuel industry lobbyists. The United Kingdom welcomed them with open arms. At the same time, Indigenous people, youth, unions, and environmental organizations who came to Glasgow to fight for integrity, ambition and transformative action faced consistent restrictions and roadblocks. We will continue to hold Canada responsible for delivering its fair share of the global climate effort and ending the colonial production of fossil fuels.
Reactions from civil society:
Eddy Pérez, International Climate Diplomacy Manager, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada:
“At COP26, Canada agreed to raise climate targets in line with 1.5°C by the end of 2022. To the Government of Canada, we say: we will hold you to this promise, because true climate action goes beyond press releases and happens at home. We will be watching to ensure Canada finally delivers on cutting emissions, while prioritizing Indigenous Peoples’ rights and a just transition for workers and communities. We will be watching to ensure that Canada doesn’t rely on weak offsetting mechanisms at the expense of communities around the world, or cave in to the interests of those who came to COP to delay action, create loopholes, and compromise our future. We leave Glasgow with renewed conviction that we must fight back against every fraction of a degree of warming, to protect the people and the places we love.”
Aliya Hirji, youth organizer, Climate Strike Canada:
“This COP was supposed to be about securing a safe future for youth and future generations, but throughout the entire conference we have been patronized, tokenized, excluded, and ignored. It is no surprise the outcome of COP26 is weak because its engagement of young people, Indigenous peoples, marginalized communities, developing countries, scientific evidence, and more has been weak. An equitable outcome requires an equitable process, both of which COP26 has failed to secure. If the Government of Canada wants to be the climate leader it claims to be, engagement with the people and commitment to the promises they have made to us must become a priority.”
Dale Marshall, National Climate Program Manager, Environmental Defence Canada:
“At COP26, while other countries took giant leaps in committing to curtail fossil fuels–the cause of climate change–Canada took only a baby step forward. This despite the least developed countries here in Glasgow pleading with countries like Canada to wind down fossil fuel production. If Canadian governments continue to favour short-term oil and gas company profits over doing our fair share in this climate emergency, it will be up to people and communities to continue to fight and stop fossil fuel development. The energy transition will happen. It is inevitable.”
Catherine Abreu, Founder & Executive Director, Destination Zero:
“Once a year the UN holds up a mirror to every global government and reflects the often uncomfortable truth of their action on climate change back to their people and to the world. The final outcomes of COP26 gives Canadians a clear image of where the world is at: united in the desperate hope to limit warming to 1.5ºC and avoid the most irreversible impacts of climate change; divided on the scale of effort required to achieve that goal.
“Consistently the missing piece at these talks has come down to countries like Canada’s reluctance to embrace the “F words”: fossil fuels and finance. Keeping the hope of 1.5ºC alive requires Canada to drive a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuel dependence as soon as possible, have a whole lot more to say on the issue of loss and damage, and keep scaling up climate financing to reach our fair share.”
Denis Bolduc, secrétaire général, Fédération des travailleurs et des travailleuses du Québec:
“Since we are disappointed by the insufficient commitments of the Canadian government regarding the greenhouse gas reduction targets, we should not let Canada abandon workers. The fight against climate change must be accompanied by a just transition for workers and their communities, and we expect clear commitments on this subject from the Canadian government.
Émile Boisseau-Bouvier, climate policy analyst, Équiterre:
“The primary objective of COP26 was to ensure that an agreement was reached to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C. Given that this objective was not achieved, this COP, without saying that it was a failure on all fronts, can certainly not be called a success. Even after yet another COP, Canada and Quebec still have GHG reduction targets and action plans that do not meet the basic standards of climate science. While there has been progress on some issues, the ambition does not address the crisis and basic human rights as well as Indigenous rights are still being compromised.”
Dr. Joe Vipond, President, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment:
“We are heartened that health has finally been recognized as a key component of climate negotiations. Over 50 countries, including Canada, committed to the WHO COP26 health programme on resilient, low-carbon health systems. We look forward to health systems being included in modeling by Environment and Climate Change Canada in the new year, as that will allow us to make a national commitment to net zero health systems and join the new UK-WHO high-ambition community of practice.
“Unfortunately, despite the rising health implications in nations around the world, our governments have yet to commit to local and global adaptation and mitigation measures that will avoid the worst of the health impacts of the ongoing crisis. Canada’s commitment to ending fossil fuel financing by 2022 and ending thermal coal exports are steps in the right direction toward achieving a maximum 1.5C rise in temperature; we also know that we are long-overdue to reduce emissions at home. Every tenth of a percentage of warming we avoid saves lives and improves health.
“Ultimately, we need to decide what is more important to save: the fossil fuel-dependent economy, or ourselves. Our planet is still a long way away from safety, and we beseech our governments and institutions to take the ambitions voiced at COP26 as they leave for home, and continue to legislate strong policy to protect ourselves, and our children, and our children’s children.”
Mueni Mutinda, Public Policy Advisor – Climate Change, Canadian Foodgrains Bank:
“We continue to witness a vacuum of the bold leadership needed in these desperate times to mobilize ambition into climate action and fulfill international commitments. Negotiations of the nearly 200 Country Parties through the last two weeks of COP26 in Glasgow garnered attention and advocacy calls to action that centers people and planet over profit. And now we ask – what does it all mean? Where do we go from here? As civil society organizations we will continue working together to protect the future of all of us – our food, our water, our health, our nature, and all life, human and animal in all their diversity. Building climate resilience will require a human-centered paradigm shift – a system’s transformation founded on equity, and the decolonization of climate finance delivery modalities for the benefit of those on the frontlines, majority of whom are women. Canada must step up contributions and implementation plans that unlock processes to rebuild trust, transparency, and accountability with the Global South.”
Ramon Cruz, President, Sierra Club:
“Despite notable progress on key issues such as coal, methane, and forest conservation in Glasgow, the reality is that the world is still far off track towards the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. And we are still not doing nearly enough to help frontline communities who are bearing the brunt of climate risks, especially those in poor and vulnerable countries. But we should not discount what was achieved at COP26. Never before have we seen so much attention to write the last chapter of the book of coal at a global climate summit, and the final decision text includes the first-ever reference to fossil fuel phase out. We are finally seeing the end of coal. We also witnessed the return of the United States as a key player in international climate negotiations, which was a welcome change after the last Administration’s utter failure in this arena. The world’s leaders, especially those from developed countries with more resources, need to pick up the pace — of both commitments and follow through — if we are to secure a livable planet for all.”
Shane Moffatt, Head of the Nature and Food Campaign, Greenpeace Canada:
“While Canada has not received a fossil award, the climate crisis demands much more from Canada which, despite being one of the top 10 polluting countries in history, has not announced a more ambitious GHG reduction target and is still lacking in terms of meaningful funding to help developing countries who urgently need richer countries to lead the way and meet their commitments.”
Shalaka Jadhav, Design & Community Manager, Youth Climate Lab:
“While international level action feels far away from the kind of ambition we need to see, I see the cover decisions coming out of COP26 as signaling the strategy we need to set on-the-ground and with our communities. To do this, we need to continue to build connected and sustained movements that don’t leave people behind. As a designer at a youth-for-youth lab, I want to see a more reliable and flexible funder opportunities across sectors that help build up our community-based infrastructure, prioritizing communities that face the complex intersections and consequences of marginalization. Our ecosystems do not recognize borders, and the immense individualization of action cannot absolve us from the climate crisis.”
Joy Kennedy, Canadian Interfaith Fast For the Climate:
“The real test is how will Canada be held to account for its good intentions but tepidness in stepping up to the global challenge and doing its Fair Share, whether in finance, mitigation or supporting Loss and Damage for global neighbours who are experiencing dire climate impacts. We now have the Climate Accountability Act to guide the path forward but implementation and enforcement remain to be seen. True leadership must come from the heart and demonstrate its consistency and trustworthiness. Will other member states recognize the values of solidarity and mutuality in the actions of the Government of Canada in the days ahead as we transition out of a fossil fuel era into one of sustainability and just recovery for all? Will Canadians recognize the moral courage of choices made for the good of the planet? Climate Justice requires truth and recognition of our historic responsibility and movement towards reconciliation with those who have been affected by our privileged policies and development patterns. It’s time to pay up for our ecological and climate debt.”
Cathy Orlando, Director of Programs at Citizens’ Climate International and national Director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada:
“During the closing statements by countries the word balanced was said repeatedly. There is an Indigenous teaching that says anything that is unbalanced is doomed to failure. But what does balance look like? Is it balance when the countries that have contributed the least to climate change are suffering its worst impacts? Is it balance when the needs of the present are allowed to override the needs of future generations? Is it balanced when the vulnerable countries in the crosshairs of rising seas and political unrest as a result of the climate emergency are sad and angry while many of the privileged countries that currently are not being overly impacted were more pleased by the outcome? Progress at COP 26 is not in alignment with the emergency we are in. Balanced is not enough. Balanced is not justice. We need to move faster. We only have 98 months to half global emissions. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
France-Isabelle Langlois, Executive Director of Amnistie international Canada francophone:
“The States Parties did not live up to the hopes we had for COP26. This will have disastrous consequences for humanity and for the protection of human rights for all. Above all, the inequalities between rich and developing countries in the face of the climate crisis have not been heard.”
Canada’s farthest-reaching network of organizations working on climate and energy issues, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada is a coalition of more than 130 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.
For media inquiries:
Vicky Coo, Communications lead, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada
+44 7375 375915 (Glasgow number), email@example.com
Photo credit: PAUL ELLIS / AFP