Glasgow, Scotland – Activists criticised plans by corporations and governments to solve the climate change emergency through opaque carbon-trading schemes instead of urgently shutting down fossil fuel production as many scientists recommend.
About 50 demonstrators rallied on Tuesday inside the COP26 venue as negotiators from around the world continued to hammer out deals to halt global warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) – a level that if surpassed will lead to devastating effects around the planet.
The activists said promoting the concept of net-zero carbon emissions decades down the road to halt climate disasters already happening was “pure fantasy”. The burning of fossil fuels needs to stop now, and “trading carbon” does not achieve that, they said.
“Corporations will be allowed to continue polluting and it’s a fairy tale to think that the trade in carbon gets us out of this crisis,” said Ozawa Bineshi Albert, and Indigenous activist and member of the Climate Justice Network.
While corporations and the governments of fossil-fuel rich nations are promoting carbon trading – or swapping one’s gas emissions in return for carbon-reduction credits from others – critics say it is just a scheme to keep profiting from burning dirty energy sources.
Bolivia, for example, has described carbon-trading as a method to create “business-climate millionaires”. The other chief criticism of carbon-trading is the inability to monitor if the carbon-reduction efforts are actually real.
‘Feed us lies’
Pascoe Sabido from Corporate Europe Observatory noted 500 oil-and-gas lobbyists were attending COP26.
“What are they here to do? Pollute the process. They have been brought in here to feed us lies,” Sabido told the crowd.
Over the next 10 years, fossil fuel companies plan to ramp up production, he said, highlighting deals recently made by big corporations to drill more than 800 new oil and gas wells around the globe.
“They want to continue to make as much money as they can, but that spells climate disaster,” said Sabido.
Big hydrocarbon corporations and governments with vast fossil fuel resources say carbon-trading and net-zero emissions plans are needed to buy time for renewable energy sources to fully come online to power global economies in the coming decades.
However, climate activists point out the Earth’s atmosphere cannot withstand any more greenhouse gasses without devastating effects around the planet, such as catastrophic superstorms, uncontrollable wildfires, huge sea-level surges, and massive flooding.
“We want real zero [emissions], not net zero,” said Sabido. “I don’t think this will be achieved here [at COP26]. But the place we’re going to see real change is on the streets.”