Richard Murphy – COP 26 failed. We need not. But we have to get on with beating the forces that want to kill life in earth. Time is not our side.

It is right to be angry. There have seldom been such shit shows comparable to COP26. It is amazing what mainstream media and scientists, who feel they have to be positive, are trying making of this. Maybe it is good so as they lose credibility.

Richard Murphy is an economic justice campaigner. Professor of Accounting, Sheffield University Management School. Chartered accountant. Co-founder of the Green New Deal as well as blogging at Tax Research UK

Cross-posted from Tax Research UK


I admit that I have been struggling to find appropriate words to write since it became apparent that COP26 really would not deliver anything like the climate deal that we required.

My first Twitter comment was this:

I have this morning said this on Twitter:

Both are in a sense reaction to the sentiments in this tweet from Beth Rigby:

Antonio Guterres got it. He understood the need to tackle climate change. He knew that this was not a game, unlike many of those present – and most especially Johnson. He also realised that this was no dress rehearsal. COP 26 had to deliver, and it has not.

I am going to ignore all the apologists and the right-wing media that are claiming this as a success. It isn’t. This was a chance to deliver 1. 5° change. It won’t. That is the definition of failure.

This was an occasion when people might have been put first. There could have been recognition of the limits to profit-making, and that there are issues more important than increasing the wealth of a few. But that was ignored. The corrupted world view of neoliberal capitalism prevailed instead.

With proper commitment, this might have been when young people were given a chance to at least take part in a peaceful transition to what is required. But that opportunity was missed as well. This looks increasingly likely to be turbulent as more time passes.

So of course I am angry.

And yes, I do feel that I owe an apology to my sons – and every one of their generation for the mess that mine has made because so many believed (and still do believe) Thatcher, Reagan, Hayek and Friedman who said greed is good when that is so clearly not true.

But just as much it makes me want to go on.

We must have governments that we can trust, and as one of my tweets makes clear, I very much doubt that we have anything close to that in the UK at present. The demand for better government, better representation and so better democracy must continue as a result.

More than that, we must have business that will deliver on its commitments. This COP saw the official announcement of the creation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). We already know that what it will demand of business is little more than greenwash. The fact that there is this Board was created outside the accounting standard framework is the surest indication of that. Until the environment is at the heart of accounting standards we will not get the change this needs and the ISSB by its very existence pushes it to the sidelines This fight will go on.

So too will the fight for funding to tackle the climate crisis. Colin Hines and I hope to continue our work on turning the worldwide glut of private savings into capital to be used for social gain. But we also need to talk about how money can be created, free. You would have never believed that such was the struggle to fund $100bn in Glasgow. This may be the biggest challenger of all – to simply persuade the world that money is not an obstacle to our survival and that it is merely a tool to be used to facilitate that goal.

I am profoundly angry with the governments, the lobbyists and the businesses that reduced the hope of the world yesterday. They did so knowing what they were doing.

I am as certain that they will be beaten. They simply have to be. This is about survival. Their petty interests will eventually be seen as insignificant in the face of that. But we sure as heck need to get in with this. Time is not on our side.

Richard Murphy

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