‘Hot air in Glasgow means it’s time for radical leadership’: Read full letter signed by more than 200 academics

Hundreds of scholars sign open letter urging communities to lead their own ‘emergency response’ after ‘failure’ of Cop26 to slash dangerous greenhouse gas emissions

Friday 12 November 2021 08:21 GMT
<p>Activists dressed as world leaders sit on a raft in the Forth and Clyde canal, protesting lack of action from governments on cutting emissions</p>

Activists dressed as world leaders sit on a raft in the Forth and Clyde canal, protesting lack of action from governments on cutting emissions

Earlier this year, the official international summary of climate science announced we face increasing disasters and disruptions, with the most vulnerable suffering the most and soonest. A leaked report from the same UN process identified the need for a transformation in our economic systems for a meaningful attempt to limit loss and damage.

Yet at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, no plan for a justice-based economic transformation was launched. Worse, voluntary business commitments distracted from the economic policies necessary to reduce atmospheric carbon and prepare for worsening disruption. That is despite decades of voluntary initiatives not delivering significant impacts on the climate. It is both unscientific and unethical to deny that our economic system is at fault, so must be transformed to reduce climate risk and adapt to the difficulties. To ignore that reality, plans are afoot to waste huge sums of money on energy-hungry yet atmospherically insignificant carbon capture machines.

Political leaders could instead level with their populations about necessary changes in industries and lifestyles. Respecting climate justice, they could take immediate steps to reduce inequality both nationally and globally – key for any changes in livelihoods to be fair and lasting.

We are hundreds of scholars from dozens of countries, who are grieving the situation but determined not to ignore it. We believe that the corporate capture and failure of COP26 clearly show that people in communities and organisations must now lead our own emergency response. That includes coordinated radical policy advocacy from outside of a corporate-driven system, for a Real Green Revolution that will significantly reduce and drawdown emissions, regenerate nature and help us adapt. It also includes growing community-led Deep Adaptation efforts independently of governments and transnational corporations.

The hot air from Glasgow means it’s time for more honest and radical leadership. We must call out the fantasy that dangerous global heating will not get worse or that the largest corporations will come to our rescue. When we escape such delusion, we can contribute to a different way forward – one we hope governments will join when they escape the constraints of business-as-usual.


Dr Malika Virah-Sawmy, IAAS-Potsdam, Germany and Mauritius

Professor Dr Jem Bendell, University of Cumbia and co-editor Deep Adaptation, UK

Dr Yves Cochet, Former Minister of the Environment, France, Institut Momentum, France

Professor Eva Lantsoght, Professor, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

Professor William Rees, Professor Emeritus Ecological Economics, University of British Columbia, USA

Dr Aurelien Barrau, Professor of Astrophysics, Universite Grenoble-Alpes, France

Professor Yin Paradies, Professor of Race Relations, Deakin University, Australia

Dr Rupert Read, University of East Anglia, UK

Dr Igor Polskiy, board member, GEN-Russia, Russia

Dr Carola Kloeck, Assistant professor, Sciences Po Paris, France

Dr Lajos Brons, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Lakeland University Japan, JP

Dr Morgan Phillips, Director, The Glacier Trust, UK

A full list of all 200+ signatories can be found here.

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