Civil societies, activists from developing nations, and even those with disabilities are all struggling to even enter the zone where discussions are taking place, let alone the actual negotiations.
In fact, the only people who seem to be sitting comfortably with a seat at the table are leaders from developed nations – essentially, all the voices we have already heard.
Billionaires and fossil fuel companies are represented in force, but those people actually affected by climate breakdown are left outside on the other side of the fence. This exclusionary environment is where the decisions about the future of our planet are being made, and it is not good enough.
Rose Kobusinge, a young activist from Uganda, has made it to COP but still feels like she is being disregarded, said: “It’s as if it’s a secret mission behind closed doors, and I don’t think that’s inclusion. That’s total exclusion.”
So what are the voices on the outside calling for? Drastic climate action, now.
“If you’re capable of doing more, do it. Do it now. Don’t even question about it. If you’re thinking that there’s an easy way out of it, there isn’t,” said Jeremy Raguain, Seychelles Islands Foundation. “If you think it can’t be done by yourself, step out of the ways for somebody else who thinks they can do it.”
Veronica ‘Derek’ Cabe from the Nuclear/Coal-Free Bataan Movement in the Philippines, added: “You have all the resources, you have all the power, you have all the knowledge. But where is your conscience?
When you have all those things and you still choose to ignore everything, you still choose to ignore all the sufferings. You still choose to ignore all the pleadings of the of the people like us, of the countries like us.”
The climate crisis is a universal, existential threat to humanity. While communities being impacted first and worst are often the poorest, most marginalised and most vulnerable, global heating will affect us all.
Derek added: “Now it is on us. But sooner, sooner than later, it will be on every one of us. This climate crisis is going to devastate all of us.” A ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of economy’ approach is needed, including communities on the front line of the climate crisis.
Somehow, the people who are already being severely impacted by climate breakdown are the ones without a voice at COP26 – the people who can tell us what is in store if we don’t commit to action are not being given a seat at the table, or even access to the surrounding area.
Disha Ravi, youth climate activist from India, said: ‘These freak weather events are just weather events. They are because of the climate crisis… and they’re getting more frequent than ever before.”
Disha continued: “People who live much more within the city have had their ground water levels go down. They haven’t had access to water and end up having to buy water from the municipality [of Bangalore] … it’s weird that it’s [water] a commodity that people have to pay for when it’s essentially a basic human right.