By Kevin Boon


REAL attended this COP26 Coalition press conference hosted by Asad Rehman of War on Want on 10 June with a varied panel of speakers.

The COP26 Coalition is an international civil society coalition of groups and individuals organising towards mobilising around climate justice during COP26. Coalition members include environment and development NGOs, trade unions, grassroots community campaigns, faith groups, youth groups, migrant and racial justice networks.

Kevin Anderson - Climate scientist, former Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Kevin started by saying that we’d had 30 years of not making progress and that we are not working to safe thresholds. Equity is important which means that rich nations, which have been by far the greatest contributors to emissions, need to be mobilising much more quickly to combat climate breakdown to allow poorer countries space to take action. Humility is needed. We mustn’t hide behind spurious accounting. Kevin suggested that net zero is a dangerous approach allowing for substitution with plans to compensate for today’s emissions with future, often unproven, action such as carbon capture. The issue of inequity is stark. Oxfam report that the poorest half of the world’s population is responsible for just 10 percent of carbon emissions. Also that the richest one per cent of the world’s population is responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the poorest half. Yet it is the wealthy that are represented on the world stage at the G7 and Davos.

Fatima Hassan - Director of Health Justice Initiative

Fatima is based in South Africa. She talked about how the implementation of COVID vaccination is a reflection of the response to the climate crisis. Promises of solidarity and voluntary measures are not enough.

Clive Lewis, Member of Parliament for Norwich South and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Green New Deal

Clive is working on the Green New Deal (GND) and is a co-sponsor of the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill. He talked about how, in general, leaders either don’t get the seriousness of the situation or that they believe that the same old approaches will address the crisis. Clive argued that what’s needed is a global GND which can provide millions of sustainable jobs. Any deal must incorporate social and economic justice issues. Clive believes that democracy needs to be deepened and broadened out and global governance must be improved. We can’t repeat the mistakes that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

speakers from G7 to COP26 press conference

Niamh Ni Bhriain - Transnational Institute

Niamh of the Transnational Institute talked about the disparity in spending on the military compared to addressing climate breakdown with a global figure of almost USD 2 trillion in 2020 of which 57 percent is attributed to the G7 nations. This is a political choice. The military is also a significant cause of emissions and is often exempt from reported figures. As refugees, often driven by the effects of climate breakdown, migrate we see countries in the global North spending billions to defend their borders rather than investing in addressing the cause of the problem. It would seem that the response by developed countries to the climate crisis is a militarised one and this is only set to get worse. We are also seeing activists and protest groups marginalised and treated as a security threat.

Richard Kozul-Wright - Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Richard observed that talk at the G7 will be about reviving multilateralism after the Trump years. However, this approach has not helped the majority of the world’s peoples. It hasn’t delivered the public goods that are so needed. After the 2008 financial crisis, advanced economies implemented austerity; we didn’t build back better. What is needed is reform not revival. The COVID crisis offers the opportunity to build something better. One obstacle to change is the current trading system which benefits developed countries at the expense of the developing world and weakens regulation. There needs to be significant investment in developing countries to support them in addressing the climate crisis.

Emmanuelle Andrews – Policy and Campaigns Officer at Liberty Fatima Hassan - Director of Health Justice Initiative

Emmanuelle is concerned about the shrinking space for people to speak out. Protest is essential in a democracy for the public to get their voices heard. Emmanuelle is particularly concerned about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which would give the Home Secretary sweeping new powers to curtail protests. Liberty’s opposition is such that they advocate scrapping the bill. Emmanuelle has been inspired by the significant protests against the bill by the public and organisations.


In the discussion that followed, Kevin reiterated that the net zero approaches won’t give the outcomes needed and that policymakers currently fit outcomes to what is politically acceptable. Fatima reflected that the inequity in COVID vaccination shows how badly trade rules work. Clive expressed concerns that the free trade deals that are being negotiated by the UK are not compatible with, for example, sustainable farming. Richard identified the financial system as being an obstacle to action as well as the trading system. There is a need for targeted investment and a focus on reigning in predatory finance. Kevin closed on an optimistic note saying how he’s been encouraged by the civil society movements in recent years such as Extinction Rebellion.