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The Rich World's Climate Hypocrisy

Many of the statements by developed-country leaders at the COP26 summit in Glasgow are at odds with their actual climate policies, and with what they say in other settings. Their short-sighted strategy ultimately benefits no one – including the powerful corporate interests whose immediate financial interests it serves.

NEW DELHI – Many people around the world already consider the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow a disappointment. That is a massive understatement. Global leaders – especially in the developed world – still fail to grasp the gravity of the climate challenge. Although they acknowledge its severity and urgency in their speeches, they mostly pursue short-term national interests and make conveniently distant “net-zero” emissions pledges without clear and immediate commitments to act.

Making matters worse, many rich-country leaders’ statements in Glasgow are at odds with their actual climate strategies, and with what they say in other settings. So, while G7 leaders at the summit were issuing underwhelming green commitments for several decades in the future, they were busy allowing and enabling more fossil-fuel investment that will generate additional production and greenhouse-gas emissions over the medium term.

For example, could the real US government please stand up and declare itself? In his recent address in Glasgow, President Joe Biden said that “as we see current volatility in energy prices, rather than cast it as a reason to back off our clean energy goals, we must view it as a call to action.” Indeed, “high energy prices only reinforce the urgent need to diversify sources, double down on clean energy deployment, and adapt promising new clean-energy technologies.”