COP26: Summit ends handing ‘threadbare lifeline’ to world’s most vulnerable people

13 November 2021

The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow has ended with agreements which come up short for people in the world’s most vulnerable communities.  

The talks finished a day later than the intended COP end date with 197 countries approving a ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’.

Thousands of CAFOD supporters campaigned for COP26 to ‘keep 1.5 alive’, provide money pledged to countries on the frontline of the crisis and consign fossil fuels to history.

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Countries must show greater ambition at COP27 in 2022

Neil Thorns, CAFOD’s Director of Advocacy, said:

“COP26 is a major disappointment to CAFOD’s partners working with poor communities, it simply hasn’t delivered the urgent action or justice required. Instead, it has been pushed until 2022 to limit temperature increases to 1.5C and deliver the climate finance so desperately needed. For some this will be too late, which is  simply not acceptable.  

“At this critical moment when urgent action is needed to keep us within the dangerous 1.5 degree temperature rise, the COP26 talks have come up short. We are on a road with no turning back now. The question is are we travelling ‘far enough, fast enough and fairly enough’ – to which the answer is no. Climate justice is not just a concept for some, it is what must be delivered. 

“We need to see concrete policies that match the promises made here to make real progress on reducing emissions by 2030. Countries must come back next year with greater ambition.”

Countries on frontline of climate crisis ‘shouldn’t have to compromise’

Neil Thorns said:

“Poor communities came to Glasgow with clear asks and shouldn’t have to compromise on the compensation owed to them from the rich countries who’ve caused the devastation to their homes, livelihoods and spiritual spaces.

“Politicians have not had the honesty and courage to take responsibility for their actions. But the tide is turning. Countries at the frontline of the climate crisis are taking heart from the voices of young people and those on the streets and are pushing back on the vested interests who’ve dominated these talks for too long.” 

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What is in the Glasgow Climate Pact?

Targets to ‘keep 1.5 alive’ postponed to 2022

CAFOD campaigners called for countries to commit at COP26 to emissions cuts which would keep global temperature rises below 1.5C degrees.

Scientists warn that allowing global heating to rise higher than 1.5C would be catastrophic for people in the most marginalised communities around the world, with even more severe and frequent disasters destroying lives and livelihoods. 

Governments in Glasgow didn’t make commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions urgently and deeply enough to put the world on track to keep temperature rises below 1.5C.

Countries at COP26 agreed to come to COP27, which will be held in Egypt, with enhanced plans for cutting emissions – what are known as ‘nationally determined contributions’ or ‘NDCs’ – although it isn’t guaranteed that these pledges will align with the 1.5C goal. 

Musamba Mubanga, a climate change specialist for CAFOD partner Caritas Zambia, said:

“For us in Zambia, climate change is a reality, it is happening. People have lost their farmlands and livelihoods to drought and floods, yet we have contributed the least to this crisis. It is crucial to keep 1.5C alive.” 

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Unprecedented steps on fossil fuels – but without a timeline

The Glasgow Climate Pact is the first COP agreement, or ‘cover decision’, to explicitly reference fossil fuels.

However, the COP26 decision fails to give a timeline for phasing out fossil fuels and leaves loopholes – including options for unproven technology to be used in a way that could allow business as usual for the fossil fuel sector. 

Neil Thorns said:

“We welcome the real progress on ending financing for fossil fuels overseas which the UK government has championed, but it’s crucial we challenge the loopholes that are buried in these pledges and hold all signatories to account.” 

Climate finance promises must not be broken again

In 2009, rich governments promised that by 2020 they would provide at least $100bn each year to countries being hardest hit by the crisis.

This pledge wasn’t met in the run-up to Glasgow and negotiators focused on agreeing plans for achieving the commitment and increasing financial support to low-income countries.

Rich countries expressed ‘regret’ for breaking promises but failed to compensate for their failure.

COP26 resulted in a commitment to double financial support for countries to better cope with the impacts of the climate crisis – something known as ‘adaptation’. 

COP26 has ended – but our work to tackle the climate crisis hasn’t

The COP might have finished, but we know that the work to care for our common home goes on. There’s still so much to do.

And we need you to be part of that work. So please sign up to hear about the next steps in our campaigning to care for our common home.

Sign up to hear from CAFOD after COP26

In the run-up to COP26, all eyes have been on world leaders. But now our focus is on people who are on the frontline of the crisis: those who work to defend our common home and face growing threats every day. 

Learn about human rights defenders working to defend our common home

Thank you for everything you’ve done to call for climate justice in 2021.

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