The agreement reached at the COP26 conference is a “pathetic, limp rag of a document”, according to climate activist and columnist George Monbiot.
After several days of intensive negotiations, a global agreement to keep temperature rises below 1.5 degrees was finally struck over the weekend.
However, the deal was an obvious compromise - including a pledge to ‘phase out’ coal been downgraded to ‘phase down’ at the last minute.
While some politicians have welcomed aspects of the agreement as positive, others admitted the deal was a disappointment.
Alok Sharma, President of COP26, apologised to the world after an “imperfect” agreement was struck, while former Irish president Mary Robinson lambasted the negotiations process as a “shameful dereliction of duty”.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres also acknowledged some of the key goals weren't achieved.
My message to young people, indigenous communities, women leaders, all those leading on #ClimateAction:
I know you might be disappointed. But we're in the fight of our lives & this fight must be won.
Never give up.
Keep pushing forward.
I am with you. #COP26
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) November 13, 2021
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Guardian columnist George Monbiot said negotiators "completely failed" to reach an agreement that reflects the scale of the climate crisis.
He said: “The UN’s own analysis suggests we need emissions cuts of around 7% a year - that’s greater than they fell during 2020 at the height of the pandemic, but we need that every year.
“That basically means by 2030 we have to phase out all fossil fuels. That was the sort of thing we needed.
"What we got instead was a pathetic, limp rag of a document - full of perhaps, ifs and maybes… when we’re in the midst of an emergency.”
China and India have been widely blamed for intervening to water down the commitments around coal use.
However, George said it's wrong to blame those two countries alone - saying this was a "collective failure" of the countries involved, including the likes of the UK and US.
He observed: “What was supposed to be at the heart of the agreement was the issue of fairness and justice - meaning the poorest nations got a fair share and also got climate justice, [including] reparations for the enormous damage we’ve done to them. All that was taken off the agenda.
“It was just flawed on every level, and there’s no point in saying ‘it was this country or that country’”.
George believes tackling the climate crisis cannot be left to governments anymore - suggesting a “huge mass movement” is now needed to combat climate destruction.
He said demonstrations involving millions of people needed - ten or a hundred times bigger than the previous mass protests we’ve seen.
He observed: “I’m hopeful about people power. I’m hopeful we can rise in sufficient numbers to force the hands of governments.
"But I’m absolutely not hopeful about leaving this process to governments, which have failed and failed and failed.”