PRESS RELEASE: The Power is With Us: COP26 Fails People & Planet



Contact: Mara Dolan,

The Power is With Us: COP26 Fails People & Planet

Glasgow, Scotland – After two weeks at one of the most exclusive, inaccessible and unjust COPs that the Women and Gender Constituency has experienced, Parties failed to meet the moment that our urgent climate crisis requires. Through a spectacle of press releases, Parties attempted to give the impression of action and ambition, but in the text of these agreements, the same false and harmful rhetoric prevailed. Once again, we see an utter failure to commit to critical finance for loss and damage – as was a key demand and benchmark for climate vulnerable countries and communities –  and a rigid lock in to a dangerous carbon offsetting mechanism that fails to protect human rights and will only continue to deepen green colonialism.

The recognition of phasing down unabated coal and fossil fuel subsidies is long overdue in this process- though it is a very weak commitment – and we have yet to see real action from developed countries to ensure the complete phase out of oil and gas. With all of these texts and fanfare of these global governmental convenings, we know we can rely on only one thing for sure: the power of our movements to hold the fossil fuel industry to account. Feminist advocates and members of the Women & Gender Constituency will continue to unapologetically and boldly call for the change we demand, call out false solutions, and pave the way toward the world we need.

The injustice and exclusiveness of this COP set the stage for negotiations that were deeply laden with wealth inequality, patriarchy and white supremacy. The challenges for frontline feminists and activists to participate were insurmountable for many. Member of APWLD and Climate Watch Thailand Executive Director Wanun Permpibul, said“The exclusion of grassroots women from Asia and the Pacific has robbed them of the opportunity to demand real actions and accountability for false climate solutions reinforced at COP26. These false climate solutions have not only misdirected the issue of climate crisis but have also perpetuated oppression of women through militarisation, fundamentalisms and patriarchy, and have strengthened authoritarian governments.”

These many missing voices contributed to gross power imbalances within the negotiations. Mwanahamisi Singano (FEMNET) illustrates, “As feminists, as African feminists, Indigenous Peoples, grassroots women leaders, we have been the centers of resistance throughout the history of time. We come to this COP year after year with solutions – solutions that are sustainable,  solutions that center food sovereignty, and solutions which embody an understanding of our mutual relationship to the land and ecosystems.  And year after year, you prioritize large corporations and business as usual approaches that amount to nothing but hot air.

The progress made on prioritizing human rights and environmental safeguards was shameful, and leaves significant questions around the power of corporate influence and human rights violations. Regarding discussions surrounding Article 6 and carbon markets, Gina Cortés Valderrama (Women Engage for a Common Future) expressed deep concerns, saying, “I fear for the exacerbated risks that this COP is placing on environmental and human-rights defenders. We needed the COP26 to advance real climate solutions that bring immediate GHG reductions and not ‘false’ solutions that lead to land-grabbing from women farmers, Afrodescendants, and Indigenous Peoples. Instead, the COP outcome will still have billions of public tax payers money going to the fossil fuel industry, tree-plantation monocultures, nuclear and geoengineering, instead of to a just transition.”

Our colleague Anne Barre (WECF) stated on the power of feminist organising: “We gained a small glimpse of hope as our Women and Gender Constituency, alongside Indigenous Peoples and Youth, obtained a seat in the Advisory Board of the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN), to participate in decision making. We will advance gender-just climate technologies and solutions based on our award programme and scale-up fund!”

Bridget Burns (Director at WEDO and Co-Focal Point of the Women and Gender Constituency) highlighted the failures and injustices of this COP: “What we have seen in Glasgow was a parade of publicity and a failure on policy. Developed countries Parties have talked the talk of urgency and climate justice, while bringing the same weak rhetoric and bullying posture to the negotiations that fails on delivering for the most vulnerable countries and peoples. To hear countries asking developing countries to be happy with “making a start” on the issue of loss and damage – when so many are facing real and disastrous impacts right now, is a betrayal of global solidarity. As always, the bright spot is the power in people, and feminist organizing. A bolder, braver and even more committed movement for climate justice that is going to create the transformation we seek. People power, climate justice.

Even where a decision under the agenda item on gender was achieved, as Gotelind Alber, GenderCC-Women for Climate Justice,  points out, it’s a procedural decision far from enhancing action on gender-responsive climate action, “The language on gender and climate change, unfortunately, did not define a clear pathway towards gender-responsive policies, including adaptation and mitigation. We must unlock the vast potential for more effective and gender-just policies through gender analysis and gender impact assessments of planned actions, in order to maximise social and gender equality, rather than aggravating inequalities.” 

Civil society and feminist movements know that there is no choice but to continue pushing for the action and justice that our communities and our world needs. And we will continue to do so, together and with fierce care for people and the planet. Marie Christina Kolo (Indian Ocean Climate Network-Madagascar), said, “For the first time, I have seen the suffering and plight of my people elevated to an international level. I naively thought that our distress, shared by other developing countries, would finally be considered, listened to, and solutions would be put into place that incorporate gender equality and human rights. I thought the pandemic – that we have all lived through – would have made us all listen to each other,  understand each other and bring us together. Despite all these false hopes, we, the people, will continue fighting because we don’t have the choice.”

See further reaction quotes from the Women and Gender Constituency attached below. 


The Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) is one of the nine stakeholder groups of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Established in 2009, the WGC now consists of 29 women’s and environmental civil society organizations, who are working to ensure that women’s voices and their rights are embedded in all processes and results of the UNFCCC framework, for a sustainable and just future, so that gender equality and women’s human rights are central to the ongoing discussions. As the WGC represents the voices of hundreds and thousands of people across the globe, members of the Constituency are present at each UNFCCC meeting and intersessional alongside the UNFCCC Secretariat, governments, civil society observers and other stakeholders to ensure that women’s rights and gender justice are core elements of the UNFCCC. In this action the constituency is joined by other stakeholders committed to advancing women’s human rights, peace and climate justice.

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Women and Gender Constituency Key Demands

Women and Gender Constituency website

Women and Gender Constituency video