Thunberg 'not wrong' labelling COP26 'greenwashing' - Shaw

Source: 1News

Minister for Climate Change James Shaw has conceded teenage activist Greta Thunberg's labelling of COP26 as a "greenwash festival" event isn't "totally wrong".

Shaw spoke to Breakfast on Thursday morning from Glasgow as he continues to represent New Zealand at the UN climate change conference.

Also at the conference is well known teenage climate activist Thunberg who earlier this week slammed the attending nations for their lack of action both before and during the event.

“The COP has turned into a PR event where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets while behind the curtains, the governments of the Global north countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action,” the 18-year-old Swedish activist said at a Friday's for Future rally outside the conference venue.

"We don't need any more distant, non-binding pledges. We don't need any more empty promises.

"We don't need any more commitments that are full of loopholes and incomplete statistics and that ignore the historical emissions and climate justice.

"Yet that is all that we are getting."

She later called the event a "greenwash festival" which Shaw said he both agreed and disagreed with.

"I don't think she's totally wrong," Shaw said.

"I do think there is a lot of that but I think if you were talking to some of the global South countries, they would say that they agree with her.

"But also there is a sense of optimism here that there is going to be some progress in ways that didn't exist at the previous two events.

"I'm feeling a bit more optimistic than when I got here about the particular outcome of this conference."

James Shaw.

It comes after a a seven-page document was released earlier Thursday at COP26 to outline how countries plan on cutting their emissions and limiting global warming to just 1.5 degrees.

The draft expressed "alarm and concern" that human activity had already caused a 1.1 degree change to date - figures Shaw said are troubling but not surprising.

"That text is consistent with a report that came out about a month ago which talked about the scale and effects of climate change that are already being felt," Shaw said.

"And what that said was the projections around temperature increases as modelled over team have been very accurate but what's happening is that the effects of climate change are actually more severe and happening sooner than we had thought.

"[This morning's] text really reflects the level of concern about that."

The document proposed by the COP26 presidency emphasised they want countries to strengthen their climate plans, which could included going back to their previous goals set at the 2015 Paris conference to see if they're still on track to reach their 2030 goals.

Other points raised were the phasing out of fossil fuels and coal subsidies - the first time they've made such a recommendation - and the need for richer companies to help out those with less resources.

It is now on the 197 countries attending to finalise an agreement from the document with the deadline being this Friday.