COP26 – under the rule of fossil lobbyists

Image: Denilson Santos de Oliveira


The long-term goals behind this insistence on fossils as engines of the world economy are not clear.

Disappointing. Escape from core problems. Weak. Made public on Monday (8/11), three days before the end of the 26th. Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the Climate Convention, held in Glasgow (Scotland) the first draft of the concluding document of the event, containing the guidelines that countries should adopt in an attempt to overcome the climate crisis left much to be desired.

Worse: it failed precisely at the point it most needed to address, namely, humanity's historic option for burning fossil fuels (the deadly triad: oil, natural gas, coal).

Used as fuel in the Industrial Revolution in the XNUMXth century, its burning releases hundreds of billions of tons of gases into the atmosphere daily, which cause the greenhouse effect and, consequently, changes in the Earth's climate.

That is why the document received these (disappointing, etc.) and other less complimentary assessments, indicating the generalized pessimism that took hold of official delegations, the press and members of civil society, regarding the adoption by governments and economic corporations of concrete measures and binding effect – those that generate sanctions for those who do not comply with them.

The document proved the spirit of the COP that was already expected, and, even if it is substantially altered in its very final version, it will not change the terrible indication of deepening of the crisis that slaps us.

COP President, British Conservative Alok Sharma, played the firefighting role expected of him and tried hard to divert attention from the imminent failure of the Conference.

Sharma preferred to look at the historic cucumber that lies ahead through the conniving lens of the half-full glass.

Thus, he drew attention to the “importance of responding to the science and making reference to the recent results of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), citing the goal of zero emissions by 2050”.

The document deals with the deadly fossil triad of... neca de pitibiribas, as they used to say in my childhood...!

The official blah blah blah appears on the UN news website: “Moreover, the leaders call for “an urgent increase in financial flows to the levels needed to support developing countries”, etc. etc., and “actions to keep alive the goal of 1,5ºC”, of a drop in the average temperature of the planet in the coming years.

“Bull shit”, cursed my old uncle Vicente. He became rudely sincere when he realized someone's intention to deceive him.

“Bull shit”, I now repeat to negotiators – or rather, bullshit!

Among other promises reheated, not fulfilled and now once again parroted at COP26 as a financial panacea to address the political climate crisis, rich countries (United States at the forefront), once again promise to contribute with 100 billion dollars a year to help the impoverished countries to develop using less fossil fuels.

Plump face, the face of the rich. In 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed, they planned to implement this fund from 2020 onwards. It's 2021 and pitibiriba needs.

Of course, this big mess has concrete reasons, very clear financial interests and political actors with internationally recognized names and surnames.

And it's not just the usual villains - like the Saud dynasty and its decades-long dictatorship in Arabia. Arabia, supported by billions of dollars a year and a lot of complicity from the USA, the main destination of its oil good fellows health They are guilty, no doubt. But they are not the only ones, and perhaps not the main ones. Attributing the responsibility for the blockade in the negotiations to oil-producing countries only masks the corporate responsibility that – that one, yes! – has been very efficient throughout the COP.

The real culprits: big business “delegation”

The BBC revealed on Monday (8), based on complaints from the organization Global Witness (England), the following:

“The number of delegates associated with the fossil fuel industry at COP26 exceeds that of any other country, according to a survey seen by the BBC.

International NGOs such as Global Witness analyzed the list of participants published by the United Nations (UN) at the beginning of the climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, and found that 503 people linked to the interests of this sector were accredited for the event.

There are reports that these delegates lobby for the oil and gas industries. Activists argue that their presence should be prohibited.

“The fossil fuel industry has spent decades in denial and postponing real action on the climate crisis, which is why this is such a big problem,” says Murray Worthy of Global Witness.

“Their influence is one of the biggest reasons why 25 years of UN climate negotiations have not led to real cuts in global emissions.

Overall, 503 people employed by or associated with these interests at the summit were identified.

They also found that:

Fossil fuel lobbyists are members of delegations from 27 countries, including Canada and Russia

The number of delegates associated with fossil fuels at the COP is greater than the combined total of the eight delegations from countries most affected by climate change over the last 20 years

More than 100 fossil fuel companies are represented at the COP, with 30 trade associations and associated organizations also in attendance.”

Got it?

The oil corporations are already doing there in Glasgow, again, what they were doing before: COP after COP, protecting positions and maintaining huge gaps for successive and growing inflections (many prefer to use the word “crisis”) in the pattern of energy production and accumulation of wealth.

The history of the COP explains

Regarding the history of formal negotiations and informal pressures, it is worth listening to São Paulo engineer Rubens Born, who participated in 14 of the 26 climate COPs held to date, in addition to other preparatory meetings, representing Brazilian civil society organizations.

“In the history of UN meetings on climate, and even the summits on environment and development, 1992, 2002 and 2012, it was clear that political decisions – although they were expected to be ambitious to make the transition to sustainability – often , at best, “advanced” in what the economic sector itself could commit to.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of inertia in the economic system and therefore political decisions suffer from this inertia as well. I am not saying that the economic world made the political decisions. Political decisions are taken by the rulers, and there has been a lack of rulers with a vision of the future. For example, the 1992 Framework Convention came out without targets for results, targets for reducing greenhouse gases.

As a result, the absolute reduction of emissions was postponed. To the extent that funding from multilateral agencies for fossil fuel ventures is allowed to continue, the scope of political decisions is limited to what the economic world finds tolerable. But, the climate crisis is already beyond tolerable.

There are sectors of oil and the automobile industry that have been strong in these negotiations to maintain a certain pattern of production and consumption without changing the pattern of the ecological footprint. Cars continue to be produced, based on individual transport, but with more efficient use of the same fossil fuels.

That's a recipe for disaster.

The long-term objectives behind this insistence on opting for fossil fuels as engines of the world economy are still unclear.

I bet that, perhaps, to some extent, what underlies this process is the positioning now, to advance and deepen the power structures on the planet, of something in which the three dynamic poles of the world economy (China, USA and Europe) have been betting: the energy transition.

*Carlos Tautz is a journalist and a doctoral candidate in contemporary history at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).






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