13 November 2021

Cop26: What big names think of the Glasgow Pact

13 November 2021

The Glasgow Pact has received a mixed reaction from both those involved and observers.

Political leaders, activists and big NGOs expressed disappointment at the lack of ambition on phasing out fossil fuels and climate finance, but there was general consensus that 1.5C is still within reach.

Here’s what some of the big names had to say:

– Alok Sharma

The Cop26 President was close to tears when he was forced to water down language on fossil fuels.

After bringing the gavel down, he said: “We can say with credibility that we have kept 1.5C within reach but its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises, if we translate commitments into rapid action and if we deliver on the expectations set out in this Glasgow Climate Pact to increase ambition to 2030 and beyond.”

He said the “vast gap that remains” must be closed and quoted remarks from the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, who earlier told the conference that for Barbados and other small island states a rise of 2C is a “death sentence”.

– Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister declined to return to the conference for a victory lap, but said in a statement: “We asked nations to come together for our planet at Cop26, and they have answered that call.

“I want to thank the leaders, negotiators and campaigners who made this pact happen – and the people of Glasgow who welcomed them with open arms.”

He added: “There is still a huge amount more to do in the coming years.

“But today’s agreement is a big step forward and, critically, we have the first ever international agreement to phase down coal and a road map to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“I hope that we will look back on Cop26 in Glasgow as the beginning of the end of climate change, and I will continue to work tirelessly towards that goal.”

– United Nations

UN climate change head Patricia Espinosa said: “We will be leaving Glasgow with clarity on the work we need to undertake to reach the 1.5C goal.”

She said progress had been made in many areas, adding: “At Cop26, parties built a bridge between good intentions and measurable actions to lower emissions, increase resilience and provide much-needed finance.

“A bridge leading to the historic transformation we must make to achieve rapid reductions this decade and ultimately towards the 1.5C goal.

“A bridge between the admirable promises made six years ago in Paris to the concrete measures science calls for and societies around the world demand.”

– Labour

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “It’s welcome that an agreement has been reached at COP26. But we’ve seen too many promises for tomorrow, not the action that’s needed today. Boris Johnson bears some responsibility for that.

“We must use the final year of the UK’s presidency to rescue what COP26 hasn’t achieved.”

– Greta Thunberg

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg was unimpressed, tweeting: “The #COP26 is over. Here’s a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah.

“But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever.”

– Greenpeace

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said: “It’s meek, it’s weak and the 1.5C goal is only just alive, but a signal has been sent that the era of coal is ending – and that matters.

“While the deal recognises the need for deep emissions cuts this decade, those commitments have been punted to next year.

Young people who’ve come of age in the climate crisis won’t tolerate many more outcomes like this. Why should they when they’re fighting for their futures?


Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, said: “This summit has seen the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C become the North Star guiding us all but a clear pathway is far from certain and we still have a long way to go.

“We are encouraged by the recognition that nature must be an integral part of tackling the climate crisis and by commitments on curbing coal and fossil fuel subsidies.”

She added: “We now need to see delivery with rapid, deep and ongoing emissions cuts alongside support for vulnerable countries facing current and future climate impacts.”

– Oxfam

Gabriela Bucher, international executive director of Oxfam, said: “Clearly some world leaders think they aren’t living on the same planet as the rest of us.

“It seems no amount of fires, rising sea levels or droughts will bring them to their senses to stop increasing emissions at the expense of humanity.”

But she welcomed the decision to strengthen 2030 reduction targets by next year: “Big emitters, especially rich countries, must heed the call and align their targets to give us the best possible chance of keeping 1.5 degrees within reach.”

– Friends of the Earth

Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The road to 1.5 just got harder when these talks should have cleared the way to making it a whole lot easier.”

“The UK government cunningly curated announcements throughout this fortnight so that it seemed rapid progress was being made.”

She added: “Here we are though, and the Glasgow get-out clause means that leaders failed to phase out fossil fuels and the richest countries won’t pay historic climate debt.”

– EU executive vice-president Frans Timmermans

Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the EU, described the change in wording on fossil fuels as “like going from 24 carat gold to 18 carat gold – it’s still gold”.

“The fact we are making concrete steps forward on eliminating coal from our energy needs is quite substantial, and the fact countries that are so dependent on coal are willing to be part of that agreement, that is historic, truly historic,” he said.

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