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The United Nations Climate Change Conference UK 2021, also known as COP26, is being held in Glasgow, Scotland through November 12. 

Hundreds of world leaders are meeting indoors in warm comfortable spaces. They seem satisfied with their own pledges to reduce planet-harming emissions by the year 2050. 

At the same time, thousands of people are marching in 50 degree weather along rain-soaked streets demanding “climate justice” now. Reportedly, 120,000 people joined the demonstration last Saturday in Glasgow. 

Fridays for Future – a youth-led group with millions of members worldwide – is among those organizing this huge protest march. Their global message to world leaders includes this statement: “WE DEMAND ACTION. Not enough is being done to limit warming – not even close. This is why Fridays For Future’s mission is to unite behind the science and make those in power take the facts seriously, and act accordingly. We strike for our own future but also for the future of coastal peoples, farmers, indigenous people, and others who are already suffering because of climate change.” 

Apparently, there is a huge disconnect between the rich and powerful controlling the instruments producing climate change and the vulnerable losing their homes to the floods and wildfires caused by climate change. 

Essentially, the rich and powerful are trying to maintain their advantages in the global marketplace. They argue incremental changes are required as the world transitions from burning fossil fuels, reminding all that the machines upon which we rely for transportation and the production of essential commodities like food are powered by coal and oil. 

The draft text of the COP26 agreement was released on November 10. To some extent it reflects the concerns of “climate justice” advocates. For example, among the statements contained therein is that the Parties are “acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.” 

However, missing from the draft agreement are the specifics about how the world will move from statements acknowledging the problem to actions effectively addressing it within the time frame remaining before we reach the point of no return.

Of additional concern are reports about some major players’ reluctance to do their fair share. BBC news is reporting that thousands of documents were leaked and “the leak reveals Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries asking the UN to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels.”

Until there is international consensus on the specific steps that will be taken, demonstrations calling for “climate justice” will continue beyond November 12 when COP26 ends. 

When – by what date certain – will the rich and powerful follow the science, quicken the pace toward achieving net-zero emissions, and share the planet’s resources with the most vulnerable?

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By Jackson Advocate News Service
November 22, 2021