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

Greta Thunberg

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...

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.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us