Climate Alliance impressions at COP26

Photo: Janine Müller

Planning the network’s presence in Glasgow was pure chaos: Corona quarantines and restrictions made travel for many of our indigenous partners a challenge, the organisation of side events on the part of the UNFCCC and the host was extremely last minute and the Scottish rail went on strike. Despite the obstacles, however, Climate Alliance was proud to be onsite with a strong delegation consisting of three board members, four representatives from three national coordination offices and an extremely dedicated municipal representative from Germany. Between numerous presentations, strategic talks with partners, interviews with the media, cooperating on various declarations, staffing the Climate Alliance stand and organising a series of events including the handover of “green footprints” to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Espinosa – our delegates’ schedules were packed!

In the words of our delegates

Tine Heyse

President of Climate Alliance, Mayor for Environment, Climate, Energy and North-South, City of Ghent (BE)

“All climate policy should be social by default. Climate policy should not widen the gap between rich and poor. But what I also learned at the COP is that a weak climate policy is the least social of all because it is precisely the most vulnerable who will feel the consequences of runaway global warming.

A second lesson: ambitious climate policy requires an agricultural transition. While many cities and towns realise this, the topic remained underexposed at the negotiating table. With a third of all greenhouse gas emissions linked to food and agriculture, it is clear that we must focus on local, healthy, plant-based food. A focus on local food production also contributes directly to rainforest protection and the strengthening of the territorial rights of indigenous peoples, whose rainforests are threatened by oil extraction and agribusiness. Their testimonies were haunting.

Ambitious cities are much needed. They must show the way, identify barriers and ‘pull the cart’.

John Tanner

Board Member of Climate Alliance and Former Lord Mayor of the City of Oxford (UK)

“There is an agreement of sorts. Lots of promises have been made by lots of governments. But there is a long way to go before our planet is saved from overheating.

I spoke at the launch of a report published by UK100, the British network of towns and cities that have pledged to tackle climate change. Quite rightly, the report features a whole section on the vital work of Climate Alliance. Sadly, the official COP26 declaration played down the essential role of municipalities in delivering net zero carbon.

Working towards net zero is a lonely business for local councillors. We lack the money and the power. Voters often oppose the changes we want, so we need the support of networks like Climate Alliance to inspire us. If the town next door can do it, so can we.    

We have the know-how to limit global warming.  Now let’s make sure we make those changes and save this planet for our children and grandchildren.”

Janine Müller

Climate Protection Manager of the City of Haan (DE)

"The exciting dialogues with experts from all over the world, whether on the train to the conference, in the crowded hallways or with the person sitting next to me during the sessions, are experiences I would not have been able to have in my usual work. In the media and to many observers, the conference may look like a lot of paper and little action. The sheer number of initiatives and local projects being implemented around the world that make for real positive impact rarely gets out. I have taken away so many exciting good practices and potential projects for Haan and have made promising contacts, including with municipalities and organisations in the Global South.

One demand that came up again and again at the conference was the importance of cooperation between politicians, scientists, practitioners, young people and those affected by climate change, which, in the end, is more or less all of us. When it comes to climate protection, we are not only responsible for our own well-being, which, as this year's floods showed, is increasingly under threat. We are also responsible for the well-being of people in the Least Developed Countries of the Global South who have contributed only marginally to man-made climate change but are often hit the worst by it."

Karl-Ludwig Schibel

National Coordinator of Climate Alliance Italy

"The gap between worsening climate chaos and reduction measures is widening and problems are mounting faster than solutions. With heightened targets for 2030, the world is on track for a temperature rise of around 2.7°C this century according to the United Nations Emissions Gap Report. Assuming, of course, that all countries implement the climate measures announced and fully reach their targets.

These scenarios have unfortunately led many scientists and some activists to pin their hopes on large-scale technological fantasies and to advocate considering all options including CCS, geoengineering and nuclear power. This is precisely the front that emerged with clarity in Glasgow. In order to achieve a world without emissions, experts who believe nuclear and CCS technologies are wrong need to speak out and activists need to rethink their strategies to put the self-proclaimed climate saviours of the business and financial world who claim a special role for themselves in decisions about the future of humanity in their places."

The delegation

The following people made up this year's Climate Alliance delegation. A heartfelt thanks to all of you for making the voices of European cities and indigenous peoples heard!

Tine Heyse, President of Climate Alliance, Mayor for Environment, Climate, Energy and North-South, City of Ghent (BE); Harol Rincón Ipuchima, Vice-president of Climate Alliance and Coordinator for Climate Change and Biodiversity of COICA; John Tanner, Board Member of Climate Alliance and Former Lord Mayor of the City of Oxford (UK); Karl-Ludwig Schibel, Coordinator of Climate Alliance Italy; Csaba Lajtmann, Director of Climate Alliance Hungary; Birgit Engel, Climate Alliance Luxembourg and Action Solidarité Tiers Monde; Cedric Reichel, Coordinator of Climate Alliance Luxembourg and Action Solidarité Tiers Monde; Janine Müller, Climate Protection Manager of the City of Haan (DE); Thomas Brose, Executive Director of Climate Alliance; Andreas Kress, Project Coordinator at Climate Alliance; Silke Lunnebach, Project Coordinator at Climate Alliance; Gillian Dick, Spatial Planning Manager – Research & development of Glasgow City Council (UK)