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COP26 funeral

Extinction Rebellion activists held a funeral for COP26 at the Necropolis on November 13, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

With COP26 in Overtime, Draft Deal Denounced as 'Clear Betrayal by Rich Nations'

"Instead of funding for loss and damage, what we have is yet another greenwash that will ensure genocide by extreme weather events in developing countries."

Jessica Corbett

As the United Nations climate summit continued beyond its planned Friday conclusion into Saturday, campaigners worldwide expressed frustration with the latest draft decision text from sleepless COP26 negotiators still gathered in Glasgow, Scotland.

"Rich countries have once again demonstrated their complete lack of solidarity and responsibility to protect those facing the worst of the climate impacts."

While "large emitters such as China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia had tried to remove the mention of polluting fuels" but were unsuccessful, Agence France-Presse reports, the European Union, United States, and United Kingdom won the exclusion of a specific finance facility for "loss and damage" that poor countries have demanded, outraging climate activists.

"We urge developing countries to act in the interest of their citizens and stand strong in the face of bullies," said Climate Action Network (CAN) executive director Tasneem Essop, declaring that "the latest draft text from COP26 is a clear betrayal by rich nations—the U.S., the E.U., and the U.K.—of vulnerable communities in poor countries."

Essop argued that by blocking the creation of a Glasgow Loss and Damage Finance Facility—proposed by the Alliance of Small Island States, the Group of 77, and China, collectively representing six billion people—"rich countries have once again demonstrated their complete lack of solidarity and responsibility to protect those facing the worst of the climate impacts."

That message was echoed by several other campaigners, including CAN South Asia director Sanjay Vashist, who said that for the people of his region, which "is being slammed by climate-induced disasters every day, COP 26 was indeed the last chance to find [a] permanent solution to the climate crisis."

"Unfortunately the voices of the most vulnerable and the most impacted have been silenced and the interest of the fossil fuel corporations have been clearly pandered to by the U.K. COP presidency," Vashist added. "Instead of building trust, the Global South has been cheated once again. Instead of funding for loss and damage, what we have is yet another greenwash that will ensure genocide by extreme weather events in developing countries."

Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development, also called out the United Kingdom, the climate summit's host, for being "bullied into dropping" the loss and damage finance facility, asserting that "the U.K.'s words to the vulnerable countries have been proven to be totally unreliable."

Teresa Anderson, climate policy coordinator for ActionAid International, described Saturday's draft as "a slap in the face for those who are already dealing with the devastating impacts of the climate crisis" and accused wealthy countries "that have done the most to cause the climate crisis" of "once again turning their backs on frontline communities in the Global South."

Powershift Africa director Mohamed Adow warned that "vulnerable countries cannot afford to leave COP26 with this current version of the text on loss and damage," and said that "whether Glasgow delivers a proper financing facility is how this summit will be judged by the world's most vulnerable countries and the millions of people facing climate devastation."

Rachel Cleetus, policy director and lead economist in the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, joined the others in lamenting the omission of a finance facility while also specifically urging the United States to take bolder action.

"The reality of the climate crisis is overwhelming with worsening floods and drought, as well as more intense heatwaves, storms, and wildfires," Cleetus said, emphasizing the need for the largest emitters, including the United States, "to support climate justice, not evade their historical responsibility and prioritize the profits of fossil fuel polluters over the needs of people on the frontlines of the climate crisis."

Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan similarly put pressure on President Joe Biden to make U.S. negotiators change course.

"Developed countries, especially the United States, still need to step up on finance, throwing their weight behind the vulnerable nations pushing for increased public adaptation funding and recognition of the loss and damage they're suffering from climate impacts," she said. "Even at this late hour President Biden should send a signal to his team in Glasgow that they shouldn't block public adaptation funding and finance for loss and damage from richer nations to developing countries threatened by rapidly rising temperatures."

Morgan also addressed other elements of the draft, pointing out that "the key line about fossil fuels is still in the text. It's weak and compromised, but it's a breakthrough, it's a bridgehead and we have to fight like hell to keep it in there and have it strengthened."

Saturday's discussions, she said, "could witness a defining moment with a clutch of countries seeking to strike that line from the deal and dilute plans to force nations to come back next year with better emissions plans."

"The coal and subsidies language now includes a reference to a just transition and that is very welcome," the Greenpeace leader continued. "Fossil fuel interests should be put on notice, the deal on the table is weak, but if they gut it they'll have to answer to the young, to people on the frontline of climate impacts, and ultimately to history."

"Today the eyes of the world are on Glasgow," Morgan added, "and the loudest voices in the room need to be the nations now fighting for their lives."

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