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1 Nov 2021

COP26: UN Climate Summit 2021 - One week in, financing commitments soar, but legitimacy is questioned as civil society is largely excluded

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People's Climate March, NY 2014

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), an international climate summit that started on 31 October, is being labelled a "turning point for humanity". For COP26 to be considered a success, many commentators agree it has to achieve some key objectives: it must preserve the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C; it has to secure a fossil fuels phase-out, through credible commitments by governments, financiers and companies; it has to deliver on the promise of $100 billion by 2020 in climate finance, which enables ambitious investment into renewable energy; and it has to reach a clear agreement on rules for global market trading in credits for carbon reductions. But these goals, if achieved, will not be effective if the climate agreement reached does not centre human rights.

The first week of COP26 saw banks, investors and insurers representing 40% of global financial assets, committing to decarbonizing their business by mid-century. However, the signatories made it clear this did not mean they would stop lending to oil, gas and coal. Moreover, many capital firms, including the world's three largest banks, have snubbed the pledge. Meanwhile, Indigenous Peoples and their allies have stages the largest protest in Glasgow's history, calling for indigenous reparations, collective land rights, end of fossil fuel financing, and renewable energy investment. In week two, their stated focus is influencing Article 6, and demanding the carbon market set-up respects indigenous rights. COP26's legitimacy has been called into question because of unprecedented restrictions on access for civil society, despite UK presidency promising the most inclusive COP yet.

“No climate initiative can succeed if rights are not recognised.”
Mina Setra, Deputy to the Secretary-general of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), Indonesia

Key perspectives

Mexico: New report "Human Rights for a Just Transition" highlights regression of climate action and human rights

NGOs raise their voice on series of policy decisions against Paris Agreement and human rights

Mining and the Energy Transition at COP26

Renewable energy is much more mineral intensive than fossil fuels extraction. 144 organisations call for a transition to renewable energy to be accompanied by a move away from irresponsible mining.

Land tenure rights as climate solution at COP26

Indigenous leaders are pushing for community land tenure rights to be recognised as crucial to success of climate agreements.

Private sector commitments

Asset owners with trillions in assets set more ambitious decarbonisation targets

Net-zero Asset Owner Alliance members to cut portfolio emissions 25-30% by 2025.

778 businesses representing trillions call on leaders to preserve 1.5°C target

Businesses call on negotiations to commit to ending new coal power development and financing immediately.

Investors commit to eliminate agricultural commodity-driven deforestation risks in portfolios by 2025

Over 30 financial institutions with $8.7 trillion in assets commit to eliminating forest-risk agricultural commodity-driven deforestation activities.