World Leaders Accused of Delivering Empty Promises on a Sinking Ship

by Andrea Germanos, published on Common Dreams, November 9, 2021

With just four days left of the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, climate groups are demanding world leaders urgently change course by rejecting false solutions and committing to stop greenhouse gas emissions at the source to have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

“On the proverbial sinking boat of the climate crisis, the water’s up to our feet—but we still have the chance to keep afloat,”

said Glasgow-based climate activist Francis Brewer in a statement.

Our leaders must do whatever it takes to limit warming to 1.5°C,” he continued. “This means strong commitments and just actions—today.”

Brewer’s call came alongside a creative action Tuesday pushing leaders to raise climate ambition at COP26. An art installation in the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow featured activists dressed as world leaders negotiating on a replica U.N. negotiation stage meant to look as if it’s sinking in rising waters.

The “politicians“—including a fake U.S. President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson—sat behind a banner that read “World leaders: last call for climate action” and depicted an Earth dripping in oil.

The activists say that thus far at COP26, little has emerged to evoke optimism.

To wit:

an analysis published Monday of summit attendees by a Global Witness-led coalition found that fossil fuel industry representatives have a larger presence at the event than officials from any single country. Also this week, the first draft of the final decision text of the summit emerged and does not mention phasing out fossil fuels.

In a newsletter Tuesday, Extinction Rebellion took stock of progress at the conference.

So far,” the group wrote, “this conference has not been the climate game-changer promised by politicians and promoted by the media.”

It’s true that multiple global pledges have emerged. Yet, said Extinction Rebellion, “none are legally binding, few have stood up to scrutiny, and many offer so much wiggle room as to be meaningless.”

The group further noted that COP26 is occurring in a backdrop of global carbon emissions rising again after a short pandemic-triggered decline.

We are not heading towards a brave new world,” the group lamented, “just using smallprint and tech-fixes to hold onto the old one.”

Among the false solutions climate groups say are being peddled at the conference is carbon markets—a scheme Grassroots Global Justice Alliance panned as a “carbon unicorn” that amounts to “smoke and mirrors to avoid really keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”

The agitation from grassroots groups for leaders to commit to bolder climate action comes as the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) released its latest update, projecting that based on governments’ 2030 pledges alone, the global temperature increase will be at 2.4°C in 2100.

Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan compared the projection to “a telescope trained on an asteroid heading for Earth,” adding that CAT delivered “a devastating report that in any sane world would cause governments in Glasgow to immediately set aside their differences and work with uncompromising vigor for a deal to save our common future.”

We have until the weekend to turn this thing around,” Morgan said in her statement. “That means countries agreeing how they’re going come back next year and every year after that until the gap to 1.5°C is closed.”

No more excuses,” she said, “time’s up, our leaders need to deliver, and now.”

*Featured Image: Prominent activists with the Glasgow Actions Team called on world leaders to strengthen their plans before climate talks conclude with an artistic installation in the Forth and Clyde Canal on November 9, 2021. The installation showcased activists dressed as world leaders negotiating climate change on a replica U.N. negotiation stage, as the boat carrying them “sank” in the canal’s rising waters. (Photo: Glasgow Actions Team)

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