Credit: DesignFife

COP26 sponsors condemned by social justice groups

By Ollie Rudden

Government announced sponsors include companies linked to fossil fuel polluting activities.

Social justice groups have slammed the UK government over the newly announced sponsors for COP26, which takes place in Glasgow next year.

The newly announced sponsors include two of the “big six” energy firms SSE and Scottish Power, the National Grid (owned by both SSE and Scottish Power) and banking firm NatWest Group (formerly known as the Royal Bank of Scotland Group), who have financed over £12bn in fossil fuel projects since 2016, according to campaigners.

The UN Climate Summit COP26 is due to take place in Glasgow next year, building on the success and work of the Paris Climate Accord in 2015. However, social justice groups, while having welcomed the exclusion of fossil fuel companies like BP and Shell who had previously lobbied the government for a place in the talks, have questioned the inclusion of the four newly announced sponsors.

For example, SSE, the owner of a gas-fired power station in Peterhead, are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in Scotland, responsible for emitting 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions last year. 

A new coalition of social justice groups has joined to lobby the government to “overhaul” their sponsors for COP26, including dropping SSE and for all future sponsors to have no involvement in polluting activities. 

In a statement to The Glasgow Guardian, Glasgow University Amnesty International spoke of their disappointment in the announced sponsors of the event: “While we are excited to host a significant event like the COP26 in Glasgow, we are also very disappointed by the government chosen sponsors. Even though these companies are attempting to show a strong commitment by providing capital for such a positive event to run, we cannot help but see this as a mere corporate social responsibility scheme. 

“As the SSE transferred its operations to OVO Energy in what seems to be an attempt to avoid accountability, and NatWest lays plans for an environmentally-friendly future, the funding of the COP26 certainly raises questions about the dedication of both the UN as well as the UK’s major energy stakeholders to facilitate a better tomorrow. 

“This type of greenwashing does not change the facts. These companies are still part of an industry that actively contributes to deepening the climate crisis and additionally are responsible for severe human rights violations. Even in the UK, it is estimated that 64,000 early deaths are linked to pollution, and globally the industry deprives people of clean water by polluting rivers with their wastewater and exploits indigenous homeland, among other atrocities.”

The UN Climate Summit COP26 takes place in December 2021 at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow. Leaders from all over the world are expected to attend the event.


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