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COP26 Glasgow: daily third sector briefing

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Boost as superpowers pledge to work together

Activists and campaigners have given a  cautious welcome to the unexpected announcement that the US and China would work together to tackle climate change.

The EU and UN say the declaration is encouraging, and an important step, while Greenpeace believes the two nations need to show greater commitment to reaching climate goals.

The US-China declaration was announced as COP26 in Glasgow nears its end sees the two countries - the two biggest carbon dioxide, CO2, emitters in the world - vow to boost climate co-operation over the next decade.

The global rivals say they will work together to achieve the 1.5C temperature goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Scotland urged to act

Global South representatives have urged the Nicola Sturgeon to deepen her climate leadership in the last few days of COP26, by demanding that other rich countries stump up cash to support developing countries, slashing Scotland’s emissions and opposing all new fossil fuel projects.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a coalition of over 60 organisations campaigning together on climate change, hosted a roundtable with the First Minister in Glasgow today, Wednesday 9 November. 

Participants who have travelled to Glasgow from Panama, Zambia, Philippines, Malawi and Peru, and a youth climate activist from Canada, strongly welcomed the Scottish Government’s financial pledge to support communities facing the devastating impacts of irreversible climate impacts – so-called ‘Loss and Damage’. The announcement means the Scottish Government is the first rich, developed nation to explicitly commit such funding.

The First Minister branded the £1m allocation from the Climate Justice Fund as an act of “reparation” for Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis, not an act of “charity”. Clémence Abbès Castillo, who works with indigenous communities in Peru as Oxfam’s Climate Justice Programme Officer, said: “My grandparents lived in the Andes, but if they were alive they wouldn’t recognise their land as the glaciers are melting and deforestation is increasing. What has been lost will never come back. 

“Shamefully, many rich nations are blocking progress to address the damage from irreversible climate impacts, so Scotland’s announcement is really important. Yet the truth is, it will only really matter if other rich nations use COP26 to raise the new money that’s so badly needed.

“But rich nations, like Scotland, must also stop making this crisis worse, and that means cutting emissions in line with promises and ending the use of dirty fossil fuels. Every new oil platform that opens condemns my country and communities on the frontline and delays will cost lives.”

The Scottish Government’s finance pledge has been welcomed by the Least Developed Countries Group – which represents 46 countries and 1 billion people – and the UN Secretary General singled out the Scottish Government for praise in this area. However, there is rapidly growing concern that COP26 will fail to secure meaningful progress on Loss and Damage globally. 

Landowners stick two fingers up at COP26

Scottish landowners are being accused of putting two fingers up to COP26 as they cause environmental damage through muirburn during the global climate conference. 

Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform has published graphic footage of muirburn in the Cairngorms National Park, highlighting the hypocrisy of the practice as Scotland hosts UN climate talks to reach agreement to tackle the climate emergency. The footage filmed by Revive partners, the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, shows large swathes of moorland burning intensively. 

League Against Cruel Sports Scotland Director, Robbie Marsland said: "It beggars belief that heather burning on this scale is happening at the very same time as a global summit on climate change. 

"Every year thousands of hectares of heather goes up in smoke in Scotland’s highlands and much of it is on deep peat. The heather is burnt to increase the number of grouse that can be shot for entertainment.  

"Our film also shows the dramatic impact of the burning - a treeless brown desert stretching to the horizon. But this is just the impact which is visible. What we can't see is the carbon stored on this land leaking into the atmosphere, undermining efforts to reduce climate emissions. In the context of the international conference on the climate crisis this to me, looks like these landowners are putting up two fingers to COP 26.”

Muirburn involves burning heather moorland to provide unnatural habitats for game birds to increase numbers for sport shooting.

The practice is an issue of growing concern due to the increasing extent and intensity of burning on grouse moors, and particularly the effects of burning over deep peat.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, a Revive coalition partner said: "Allowing landowners to burn land indiscriminately puts our vital peatlands at incredible risk by allowing the carbon it stores to leak into the atmosphere, undermining other efforts to reduce climate emissions.

“This is a very serious issue for grouse moors, because much of that land is high in peat, and peaty soils contain a massive amount of carbon. With the eyes of the world on Scotland’s climate action, the management of all our peat-rich grouse moorland will have to improve radically to contribute to national efforts to cut emissions.”

Climate finance isn't charity

India's environment and climate minister says rich countries have "an obligation, responsibility, duty and a vow" to provide climate finance to developing nations and should deliver on an unfulfilled promise to raise $100 billion a year.

Bhupender Yadav said addressing the shortcomings on finance was paramount to making the UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, a success.

"I believe the biggest responsibility...lies with the developed countries," Yadav said. "Because if there is any gap that remains it is in the action for climate finance."

Yadav heads the Indian delegation at the two-week talks scheduled to end Friday.

A draft deal under negotiation noted "with regret" that rich nations had failed to meet their promise to provide USD 100 billion each year in climate finance to poor nations as of 2020.

Currently, rich nations provide an estimated $80 billion annually, which poorer nations say isn't enough to develop clean energy systems and to adapt to worsening climate shocks.

India alone said it needs USD 2.5 trillion, in a 2019 finance ministry document. "Climate finance isn't charity," Yadav told AP on the sidelines of the conference.

"This is an obligation, responsibility, duty and a vow. He said helping the developing world cope with climate change is a call of conscience that "should be in the heart of every person. But especially in those who've a greater historical responsibility than others."

The minister said India - a country with nearly 1.4 billion people or almost one-fifth of the global population and yet accounting for just 5 per cent of its emissions - is among the few countries in the world on track to meet its climate targets before 2030.

However, emissions analysts say India should have more ambitious targets to help put the world on track to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the goal of the U.N. climate negotiations.

Whisky galore!

One of the world's most popular single malt whisky brands has teamed up with a Scottish climate charity to create a special whisky to commemorate the climate change summit, COP26 in Glasgow.

Glenfiddich and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland will use the limited-edition 26-year-old whisky to raise awareness of the active steps Scotland is taking to tackle climate change as well as contribute vital funds for the charity.

World leaders and COP26 conference attendees will have a chance to taste the one-off Glenfiddich 26-year-old whisky at a series of COP26 events during the summit, hosted by Glenfiddich Ambassador to Scotland Mark Thomson.

Whisky enthusiasts and sustainability supporters alike will then have the chance to bid on the collector’s item – one of 100 bottles – via a charity auction through Royal Mile Whiskies.

The auction is raising money for Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and will be live from Monday, November 22 and finish up on Monday, November 29.