COP26: More than vague promises are needed to save millions of lives

In Zambia, Brian stands in an empty dam to show the scale of the emptiness. The dam ran dry, with no sign of filling, as rains were already delayed by two months.

In Zambia, Brian stands in an empty dam to show the scale of the emptiness. The dam ran dry, with no sign of filling, as rains were already delayed by two months.

Photo: IFRC / Hugo Nijentap

In response to the Glasgow Climate Pact, a statement by President Francesco Rocca and Secretary General Jagan Chapagain, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Geneva, 13 November 2021 - No country in the world can ignore the catastrophic impacts of climate change. Big and small, from the global North and South, they all came together in Glasgow to address the greatest threat of our time.

Our message over the past two weeks has been loud and clear -- promises are not enough.

We welcome the commitment to stay below 1.5 degrees of warming, but worry that specific commitments to meet this target remain too vague.

We are particularly disappointed that COP26 did not deliver the finance needed to support communities at the frontlines of the climate crisis. While new commitments to increase adaptation finance for the poorest and most vulnerable countries were made, we need a much stronger will to provide accessible, high-quality finance to address the challenges that will only multiply in the years to come. We must make sure that this funding reaches the local communities that are hit first and worst so that they can prepare for, adapt and respond to the ever-increasing threats.

More support is also needed to help countries and communities that are already struggling to cope every day; where the limits of adaptation have been reached and losses and damages has already been experienced. Our volunteers and staff across the world have been confronting these consequences for years, so it is an illusion to believe that we are not already paying the price of inaction.

We will do our part. Together with the International Committee of the Red Cross we developed the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations, which now has over 170 signatories. In this charter we all commit to greening our operations and to scaling up our climate action, building resilience wherever we work.

As the world’s largest humanitarian network present in 192 countries, we will do our best to support communities facing the devastating impacts. We ask the same of our world leaders, we cannot do this alone. Glasgow opened the door to further discussions and we are committed to working together with governments and other organizations to find effective solutions to address this growing crisis.

COP26 represents a small step in the right direction. What the world needs is a massive leap. It is time to hold our leaders accountable. We need pledges to be realized and commitments turned into action.

Millions of lives are at stake but it’s not too late. Yet.

To request an interview or for more information, please contact:

In London: Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, teresa.goncalves@ifrc.org

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Climate experts also available for interview.