COP 26: Being Fully Committed

By Ida Josefine Haurand, SSpS

“May I just say to all delegates I apologize for the way this process has unfolded, and I am deeply sorry.” The President of the 26th Climate Change Conference, Alok Sharma, said this sentence at the beginning of his closing statement after the negotiations closed one day after the official end of the COP. If the climate conference President apologizes to the delegates almost in tears, something did not go as he wished as host and co-organizer. At the last minute, agreements were watered down. In particular, efforts to phase out coal worldwide and make payments to countries most affected by climate change were significantly weakened. The island states particularly felt the frustration. The environment minister of the Maldives commented: “The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees is a death sentence for us.”

We only marginally experienced the dynamics of the last two days in Glasgow. Civil society was primarily excluded on the last day of the negotiations, and most delegates were already on their way home.

In the meantime, the conference seems far away to me.  The pink and green “Net-Zero-COP26” electric buses that shuttled between the Blue Zone and the city center during the climate conference were already running as regular buses between Paisley and Glasgow the day after the conference. The world continues to move.

I found the many lobby representatives from the energy sector and the other industry stakeholders to be very strong. Our role was also to lobby in a way, but for something different than industry.  And yet the atmosphere at COP26 was peaceful and calm. You felt so much that we are all one big human family. Participating was very enriching for me, even if the result was frustrating. At the same time, we understood the complexity of negotiations and that it is necessary to make compromises in the end, even if no one is really satisfied with the result.

I think our role as religious at COP26 was, besides lobbying for the marginalized and excluded, to show that it is worthwhile to be fully committed to something, even if the goal is still so far away. What remains? The hope that it was not all “blah, blah, blah.” (Greta Thunberg).