Abortion Advocates Fail in Glasgow Climate Pact
GLASGOW, November 19 (C-Fam) The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) agreement makes no mention of reproductive rights and abortion despite pressure from feminist activists and family planning organizations.
Countries reached an agreement on Saturday, culminating the end of the much-anticipated UN conference, but unlike the Paris Agreement there was no fanfare lauding its success in moving the climate change agenda forward.
“I know you are disappointed. But the path of progress is not always a straight line,” said United Nations Chief António Guterres in a message to women leaders, young people, and other environmentalists. “Never give up. Never retreat. Keep pushing forward.”
In response to the last-minute change to the pact that tempered language about phasing out the use of coal and fossil fuels, COP26 President Alok Sharma apologized for “the way the process had unfolded,” adding that he understood that some would be “deeply disappointed” with the final agreement.
Proponents of “green energy” were not the only participants feeling let down by the conference. After months of continuous promotion, feminist activists and family planning NGOs failed to convince delegates that “reproductive rights” and “comprehensive sexuality education” were owed a place in the final document.
In fact, the final agreement makes no mention of the impact of “climate change” on health, let alone the need for family planning despite the inclusion of a “health pavilion” at the COP26. The pavilion hosted more than 60 side events, each of which advanced the notion that health and climate are connected. Many of the events focused on the “sexual and reproductive rights” of women and girls.
“[Gender is] prioritized but until we see it integrated into the bigger commitments that are made . . . at COP and through the UNFCCC process then [it] will still end up being sidelined often,” said CARE Climate’s Sheri Lim.
In addition to demanding universal access to health services for women and girls in COP26 strategic planning, family planning NGOs and abortion rights activists demanded what they are calling “adaptation” funding, which refers to assistance in adapting to the results of “climate change.”
“Climate funding mechanisms should expressly encourage adaptation programs with a direct focus on removing barriers to family planning and girls’ education,” said David Johnson of the Margaret Pyke Trust.
In a token response to feminist activists, the delegates stated that parties and observers were invited to submit papers “on the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change, the role of women as agents of change and opportunities for women.”
“Women and girls around the world are demanding that their rights to . . . family planning and reproductive health be met,” said Kristen Patterson, Director of Drawdown Lift at the MSI event. “We don’t need more evidence, rather we need the parties at COPs to take action based on the existing evidence that we have.”
Some leaders cautioned against emphasizing “population engineering” tools in response to climate change, reminding activists that the “wealthiest countries with the lowest levels of fertility emit the highest levels of greenhouse gases.”
“An excessive focus on family planning distracts us from the true drivers of the climate crisis,” wrote Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund in an op-ed published during COP26.