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Asad Rehman at COP26

Asad Rehman giving a speech Wednesday at COP26 in which he blasted the world's richest whose "broken promises are littered across 26 COPs." (Photo: War On Want)

In COP26 Speech, Climate Justice Leader Vows Global Movement 'Will Change History'

"The era of injustice is over. We will uproot these systems of oppression with our global Green New Deal to guarantee everyone the right to live with dignity and in harmony with our planet."

Andrea Germanos

Declaring that "it is ordinary people who change history," climate and social justice campaigner Asad Rehman on Wednesday gave a brief but searing indictment of rich nations that are "deliberately sacrificing the poor for profit."

Rehman, executive director of anti-poverty group War on Want and a spokesperson for the climate justice COP26 Coalition, delivered the remarks at a high-level segment of the United Nations Climate Change Conference underway in Glasgow, Scotland.

Just before his speech, he promised to those who marched for climate justice by the tens of thousands in the U.K. just days earlier that he would "take your demands to world leaders."

"I had a speech prepared to deliver in relation to the cover decision," said Rehman, referring to the COP26 draft decision text, "but frankly it's going to fall on deaf ears, so I won't bother."

"The richest have ignored every moral and political call to do their fair share. Their broken promises are littered across 26 COPs," he said, decrying "empty press releases drafted by polluting companies [that] no longer fool anyone."

Failures on Covid-19 vaccine equity and net-zero by 2050 pledges, he said, "are just the latest examples of deliberately sacrificing the poor for profit by those whose wealth was, and continues to be, looted from the Global South."

"Whilst we are frustrated and angry, we are not without hope," he continued. "We know it's ordinary people who change history—and we will change history."

"The era of injustice is over," Rehman added. "We will uproot these systems of oppression with our global Green New Deal to guarantee everyone the right to live with dignity and in harmony with our planet."

"Across COP26 we have spoken truth to power," Rehman added in a tweet. "From the streets to the High Level plenary the call for justice will be heard."


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