Glasgow – As global climate talks get underway in Scotland, 725 groups from nearly 100 countries are calling on governments and leading international institutions to end reliance on hollow “Net Zero” promises and commit to specific, ambitious, and immediate actions to bring emissions and fossil fuel production down to Real Zero, consistent with science and equity.
The joint statement comes as many governments and corporations arrive at COP26, touting Net Zero pledges premised on mid-century emissions targets, offset-based carbon accounting tricks, and illusory and dangerous technologies like carbon capture, blue hydrogen, and bioenergy. Such pledges, the statement says, mask climate inaction and provide cover for business-as-usual fossil fuel production that spells planetary destruction.
“The massive global support for this call to action is proof that the people see through the ploys to put off real change and prop up polluting industries in pursuit of a distant ‘net zero’,” said Nikki Reisch, Director of the Climate & Energy Program at the Center for International Environmental Law. “We refuse to applaud misguided efforts to ‘fix’ fossil fuels rather than ditch them for safer, proven renewables, or to pretend that we can trade reductions ‘here’ for emissions ‘there,’ when we need transformation everywhere.”
“With so many plans relying heavily on carbon offsetting,” said Teresa Anderson, Climate Policy Coordinator for ActionAid International, “Net Zero targets are likely to drive devastating land grabs in the Global South, threatening the rights and food security of women, smallholder farmers and indigenous communities.”
The 700+ signatory environmental and human rights organizations, social movements, Indigenous Peoples and local community groups from around the world call on states to:
Curb emissions at the source, by phasing out fossil fuels, industrial agriculture, plastics, and other polluting industries;
Reject dangerous distractions, such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, and carbon offsets, which entrench the fossil economy and exacerbate frontline risks;
Invest in transformation, by replacing fossil fuel infrastructure and industrial food systems, and redirecting subsidies to workers and communities;
Protect and restore ecosystems, not to commodify and trade the carbon they contain, but to respect and sustain the lives and livelihoods they support;
Support local solutions, by promoting Indigenous and community-led alternatives, ensuring food sovereignty, and securing work and livelihoods; and
Deliver accountability, by making polluters pay for their harms and prevent future damage, and by ensuring that those most responsible for historic greenhouse gas emissions move first and fastest to reduce emissions and increase financing for lower-income countries hardest hit by the climate emergency.
“Climate leadership will not be measured decades from now,” the statement warns, “but rather by the pace and scale of concrete, near-term actions taken today.”
“We are concerned that rich countries and polluting corporations will push ahead with ‘false solutions’ at COP26,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice and Energy Coordinator, Friends of the Earth International, in Mozambique. “The names and terms keep evolving, but the basic, damaging principles remain the same. They strengthen corporate power, deflect responsibility from rich historical polluters and prevent urgent and equitable action on climate change.”
As the statement says, real solutions — not “net zero” targets — are essential to “strengthen resilience, center justice, and support communities in a just and equitable transition to a fossil-free future that secures human rights, livelihoods, work, and a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment for present and future generations.”
Spokespeople are available for interviews and briefings throughout COP26 on why Net Zero is a dangerous distraction from real climate action.
For more information and interviews contact:
Cate Bonacini, email@example.com