[OPINION] A world to win beyond COP26

Leon Dulce
[OPINION] A world to win beyond COP26
Many activists and advocates who did not make it to Glasgow because of vaccine inequity and inaccessible travel costs will bring the debate to the parliament of the streets

The COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow will open with world leaders’ actions and ambitions to resolve the climate crisis remaining astoundingly lukewarm amid this burning world.

A recent UN Environment Program (UNEP) report revealed that the current emissions reduction commitments of nations are set to bring the planet to at least 2.7°C of warming within the century — a far cry from the targeted 1.5°C limit that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will still bring about irreversible climate disruption that we are already experiencing now.

The advanced capitalist countries in the so-called “Annex I” are still hell-bent on pursuing a business-as-usual pathway. A recent massive document leak revealed countries like Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Australia are lobbying to water down recommendations for carbon cuts and climate finance in the IPCC authoritative scientific reports.

And why should they care, really, when they are on the lush and luxurious side of the Climate Apartheid?

Limits of the negotiating table

Each round of climate talks is a reminder that there will always be a limit to what can be achieved on the negotiating table. The economic and political interests, especially of the Annex I developed nations, will be imposed onto the world at the end of the day.

After all, what is COP26 but a microcosm of the global economic and political system of imperialism? It cannot refrain from plundering the world’s natural resources, exploiting the people’s labor, and polluting the planet lest it collapses unto itself.

Meanwhile, the relevance of COP26 virtually dissipates at the grassroots level where communities suffer the brunt of climate impacts. Indigenous people, small farmers, and fisherfolk have to contend first with hunger, poverty, disaster, and conflict on a daily basis. Over 80% of Filipinos say they have personally been affected by climate change, but only 37% actually cared to take part in at least one climate risk reduction effort.

It follows the same pattern that brought the Philippines back into the hands of authoritarian rule — the dystopian trap of liberal democracy that has consistently failed to bring food to the tables of its citizens.

It begs the question: how can we win back a better world from the grips of polluter nations and corporations, when the proverbial wolves themselves run COP26?

Going beyond COP26

As with every other previous COP, we need to tirelessly speak truth to power at COP26 like our lives depend on it. Because it does.

This is not waxing quixotic. We draw the red lines that polluter governments and corporations should never cross at the negotiating table, and expose each and every time they do. Because they will. Let us make sure that with each injustice, more and more people tremble with indignation and commit to take action.

We will still work to win the small battles where we can. The Philippine COP26 delegation will work on a climate finance-centric agenda. Let’s make sure to campaign hard for greater commitments from Annex I nations to fund our adaptive capacity, while holding the national government accountable to transparency and ease of access for the most affected peoples and areas in the country.

The war for Planet Earth’s survival will be in the frontlines on the ground. It will be waged in what we call “Annex 0” areas where people, regardless of their country’s political limitations, will fight tooth and nail for genuine and just climate solutions.

Every dollar of green climate fund and loss and damage compensation denied must be met with campaigns for humanitarian aid, debt relief, and People’s Green New Deals. Every ton of fossil fuels that developed nations refuse to keep in the ground must embolden more protests and blockades against coal power plants and mines. Every injustice should be met with organizing more and more environmental defenders and climate activists outside on the frontlines.

On November 6, climate movements across the world will simultaneously mobilize for a Global Day of Action on Climate Justice. In poor and vulnerable nations across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, there will be climate marches and strikes under the banner of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle and the Southern People’s Action on COP26. Many activists and advocates who did not make it to Glasgow because of vaccine inequity and inaccessible travel costs will bring the debate to the parliament of the streets.

Here in the fourth most climate-vulnerable nation in the world, at the tipping point of the climate crisis, the seas are definitely rising. And, so are we. –

Leon Dulce is the national coordinator of Philippine environmental campaign center Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment. He is also the coordinator for Oilwatch Southeast Asia and the Yes to Life, No to Mining Southeast Asia networks.