Thank climate activists for the fact that any progress was made in Glasgow. Unless we push hard, powerful interests don’t budge.

By Bill McKibben, The Guardian

It was inspiring to watch activists – especially young people and those from the global south – as this Glasgow Cop limped towards its mushy end. They were on top of every twist in the text, and they won significant concessions from the big polluting countries. At the time of writing, it looks as if the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels will be mentioned in a Cop document for the first time, and that there will be more money for nations of the global south to “adapt” to the climate crisis. The activists’ anger echoed through the halls, and was heard in whatever parts of the world were listening. To the extent that this Cop worked at all, it’s a tribute to their perseverance and creativity.

But was this a sea change in the way we deal with the global climate crisis? No –Glasgow moves us down the track a little and boxes in national governments a little more, but it has changed not nearly enough. After 26 iterations, the truth about these Cops is pretty clear: the results are largely determined before they even begin. Yes, there’s an endless succession of concerts, marches, seminars, negotiating sessions, speeches, ultimatums, declarations, photo-ops; and yes, everyone works hard to build a sense of drama (the media especially). But history would suggest that the parties rarely go beyond what they’d intended to do before they arrived.

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