COP26: poor against rich?

China and Russia have stayed away from the 26th World Climate Conference in Glasgow. India has announced that it will not be able to achieve climate neutrality until 2070. Countries that have had lower levels of emissions in the past are often more affected by the consequences of climate change, while industrialised nations and global companies are more likely to benefit from the green revolution. Europe's press takes stock of these contradictions.

Open/close all quotes
El País (ES) /

Rich states have global responsibility

El País points to existing agreements:

“The UN Convention has created two mechanisms to support developing countries. The Green Climate Fund was established in 2011. ... Two years later, the Warsaw Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts was created for developing countries. Both instruments need to be reinforced and supplemented. ... In the same way, climate refugees need better legal protection. ... They are victims of a crisis for which the international conventions make no provisions but which is advancing inexorably. This is a key element to decelerate the pace of the effects of climate change: the responsibility of states, and above all the richest ones, does not end at their borders.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

All about business

A handful of shrewd people are earning big money from the climate crisis, sociologist Tomaž Mastnak explains in Dnevnik:

“One big lie, for example, consists in making the global environmental crisis all about the climate. Big business interests that see the climate crisis as a business opportunity to profit from destruction are behind this. ... These are the ones trading CO2 emissions, investing in supposedly clean energy sources, wanting to replace existing vehicles with electric vehicles (the terrible destruction caused by lithium mining is hidden in less fortunate places). It is also a big lie that states decide global environmental policy. Because what do you think all the billionaires, aristocrats and other self-styled 'world leaders' are doing in Glasgow?”

La Tribune de Genève (CH) /

Financial world is one step ahead

La Tribune de Genève, by contrast, sees the ecological transformation taking place in the world of finance and industry as a positive trend:

“Who would have thought five years ago that Tesla's capitalisation in 2021 would exceed the stock market value of the 21 largest energy companies, including giants like Chevron or ExxonMobil? No one. Yet that is exactly what has happened while COP26 is in full swing, and it sends a warning. Even though the world is still 80 percent dependent on fossil fuels, the financial world, which by its very nature bets on future profits, has already made up its mind by investing in the first carmaker whose entire fleet is electric.”

Libertatea (RO) /

Many have to worry about today, not tomorrow

Those who accuse the poor of doing too little to protect the environment are only hindering a solution, journalist Costi Rogozanu warns in Libertatea:

“In its ultra-liberal manifestation, ecomorality is slowly becoming a new form of contempt for poor people who pollute by driving diesel vehicles and heating with wood. ... If the only measures you can come up with are ones that punish the wasteful poor, you can say goodbye to saving the planet. You will turn people against you, who will tell you that they would rather see the earth burn tomorrow than starve today. ... If ecology doesn't become social, if you don't start creating policies from the bottom up, then everything will fall asleep, like Biden in Glasgow.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

The South can't afford to resist

The uprising of the poor countries and those particularly affected by climate change will come to nothing, Deutschlandfunk predicts:

“They know very well that they have the short end of the stick. If they don't give in by the end of the conference, nothing at all will be done, and many countries can't afford that. The financial crisis and the Covid pandemic have shown that with good will, an enormous amount of money can be mobilised in a very short time. When it comes to the climate, the rich countries are still stonewalling - and the poor countries of the South quite justifiably see themselves as being sidelined.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Absence of China and Russia is demotivating

Differing priorities and mutual accusations will probably prevent the emerging countries from getting more money for their climate efforts, Lidové noviny notes:

“The rich countries promised the poorer states 100 billion dollars in climate subsidies back in 2009. These have not been paid. The taxpayers of the rich countries will now reject similar promises when they see that the Chinese and Russian heads of state are absent from Glasgow. For China, economic recovery has a higher priority than the fight against climate change. And Putin knows that demand for his gas - and with it his geopolitical influence - will continue to grow.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Poor countries need more time

India is completely justified in not aiming to be climate-neutral before 2070, says the Financial Times:

“While many western countries are committed to a 2050 deadline, the Indian government rightly points out that they have used fossil fuels for decades, if not centuries, to lift living standards. That is an option that India's millions of rural poor - often reliant on diesel generators - are only just beginning to enjoy. Not only is India's contribution to historic emissions much less than other countries but its high ranking on aggregate emissions reflects a much bigger population. On a per head basis its emissions are towards the bottom of the table, thanks to its relative poverty.”

Tportal (HR) /

Back where it all began

It is ironic that the international community is meeting in the place where industrialisation began in the 18th century, Tportal notes:

“As the British government seeks a new role for the UK in the world after the Brexit chaos, it has high hopes for the conference. With powerful symbolism this meeting is taking place in Glasgow, the very city where James Watt invented the coal-powered steam engine and started the Industrial Revolution two and a half centuries ago. ... However, after the lack of any breakthrough at the G20 meeting at the weekend, it's not entirely clear what kind of breakthrough could be possible at the Cop26 meeting.”