With COP26 now only 10 days away, a massive document leak has now shown that some of the most polluting countries are lobbying the UN to water down the importance of decarbonization and the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The leak was sent by Greenpeace UK's investigative journalism team "Unearthed" who passed it on to BBC.
According to the leak, countries such as Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia are some to push back UN recommendations for action. There have been more than 30,000 submissions by countries and private entities sent to a group of scientists who are designing a report on effective ways to tackle climate change - to be published by the IPCC. Countries and organizations are claiming that the reduction of fossil-fuel dependency is not necessary. For instance, the adviser to the Saudi Arabian oil ministry demands that clauses calling for the urgent need for mitigation actions across all levels should be eliminated. Other Australian officials are rejecting the calls for closing coal-fired plants. This comes to us with no surprise as Australia is one of the largest coal exporters, and Saudi Arabia one of the largest oil producers. On the other hand, countries are supporting the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) which have the potential to cut fossil fuel emissions from power plants and production. However, scientists have questioned the future role of CCS and its compatibility with maintaining a 1.5C temperature increase.. It is saddening to observe the inactivity and unwillingness of countries such as Australia - who have some of the best natural resources for renewable energy production - and the obscure lobbying that goes on in the run through to COP26.
Countries with the largest carbon footprints are under pressure to speed up their reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, yet are unwilling to make a tangible difference in doing so. COP26 is the final deadline for countries to forward their ambitious national climate policies and current process under the Paris Agreement. However, what this leak suggests is that, behind the scenes, the biggest polluters are unwilling to take radical action to do so, leaving several stakeholders at a stalemate when it comes to their welfare and ambitions for tackling the climate crisis.