The COP26 deal could actually allow fossil fuel to ‘expand’, Greta Thunberg points out

Greta Thunberg
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Activist Greta Thunberg said the climate deal reached by world leaders in Glasgow was “very vague” and left open the prospect climbing global emissions and the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.

“Blah, blah, blah”

The 18-year-old climate campaigner told BBC Scotland News on 15 November:

Read on...

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Unfortunately it turned out just the way as I had expected, and that many others had also expected, they even succeeded in watering down the blah, blah, blah, which is quite an achievement

There is still no guarantee that we will reach the Paris Agreement. The text that it is now, as a document, you can interpret it in many, many different ways.

We can still expand fossil fuel infrastructure, we can still increase the global emissions. It’s very, very vague.

 Greta Thunberg in Glasgow
Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaking on the main stage in George Square, Glasgow (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Glasgow Pact, secured at the COP26 talks, committed countries to take more climate action and featured a historic – if watered down – move against coal. Ministers and negotiators at the UN summit agreed to get countries to strengthen their emissions-cutting targets for 2030 by the end of next year as part of the bid to limit dangerous warming climbing above 1.5C.

Thunberg welcomed the move to meet more frequently, but warned:

Yes, it’s good that they say that they’re going to increase their ambitions more often, about that doesn’t really mean much if they don’t actually increase their ambition, especially if they don’t fulfil that ambition, as they have proven so far now.

Others have spoken out about COP26’s ‘failure’:

“What have they been doing all this time”

Negotiators have also sent a signal on the shift away from the world’s dirtiest fuel, with the deal calling for efforts to accelerate the “phase down” of unabated coal, as well as the phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. Some have pointed out that negotiators have failed to clearly explain what “unabated” and “inefficient” mean, however, potentially allowing for these practices to continue in some form.

It was the first time fossil fuels were mentioned in a COP deal, and Thunberg told the broadcaster this was a “crucial step”.

The campaigner, who marched through the streets of Glasgow during the conference, added:

I think many people were surprised to learn we have had 26 Cops, and not once have we mentioned fossil fuels in the document up until now, then you start to wonder what have they been doing all this time?

Alok Sharma at the Cop26 conference in Glasgow
Alok Sharma President of the COP26 climate summit. (Jane Barlow/PA)

In the wake of the deal, COP26 president Alok Sharma said the summit had met its key goal of keeping the 1.5C limit within reach. However, as Jasmine Norden wrote for The Canary before COP26 took place:

This isn’t the only less-than-aspirational view on the potential of Cop26. On the official Cop26 website, the first goal of the conference is:

Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

The phrase ‘within reach’ is a lot more vague and non-committal than the Paris Agreement’s original pledge to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

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