The UN climate conference is a ‘blokes’ space’, says former female conference president

The international negotiations to save the planet from global warming are a “blokes’ space”, according to the former female president of the UN climate conference.

“Getting women represented on the negotiating teams has been an endless problem,” Claire O’Neill, a former Conservative British MP and energy minister, told ABC News in Glasgow.

Diplomats and negotiators are now working through the details of global promises and agreements reached at the COP26 summit, following two days of announcements and speeches by world leaders.

Women and girls were not represented in these negotiations or in public speeches at the international meeting, said Ms O’Neill, who until January 2020 was president of the summit.

“Many of them [negotiating teams] are still all male, “she said, warning that” if you are not at the table, you are on the menu “.

Image by Claire O'Neal
Former Climate Summit President Claire O’Neal says female representation is lacking among UN climate summit delegates and business panels. (Niall Lenihan)

Climate negotiations lack female representation: UN report

While the face of global action against climate change remains the Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg, they look and sound within the walls of the Glasgow Convention Center.

Female government delegates will occupy an average of 33 percent of all positions in formal UN climate negotiations by 2021, according to a report released ahead of the conference.

“This indicates a lack of significant progress in terms of female representation in constituent bodies,” the report said.

Mrs O’Neill said she was removed from her post as COP president and replaced with male MP Alok Sharma, not because of her gender but because of “politics”.

The UK as the host nation for the Global Summit appoints a representative to lead the diplomatic and logistical efforts.

“[UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson] was entirely within his rights. He wanted a minister to lead the COP, “said Mrs O’Neill, who praised her successor’s efforts at the summit.

Her comments come as finance ministers meet and top executives and business leaders from around the world face the conference, which promises climate finance.

“As much as we’ve been trying really hard this year with panels, most of the World Chamber of Commerce panels are only 30 to 50 percent women,” Ms O’Neill said.

Salome Alinili Maitaingi
The Pacific islands are extremely vulnerable to climate change.

Young women from the Pacific Islands encourage leaders to listen

Salome Alinili Maitangi came to seek promises and funding for her community.

The young Samoan-Tuvalu woman has traveled around the world to hear her voice and comes with a clear message to leaders.

“I hope the leaders are really looking at our Pacific voices and also the indigenous peoples because we have the solutions.

“We have people who have to move inland, also from my village. Sea level rise is a big problem for us, it also affects our food resources.”

Johnson made the observation at the opening ceremony of the COP26 World Leaders Summit that the average age of heads of state was “around 70”.

Moemoana pande
Women from the Pacific Islands say it is crucial to listen to the Pacific and original voices to find solutions to climate change.

Pacific Climate Warriors delegate Moemoana Schwenke believed it was important that young women from many different communities have a voice at the table.

“If our young people work together, then we can be better leaders, and if we want to work to ensure that our planet does not suffer damage and loss,” the Samoan Australian said.

“Be good neighbors to our Pacific region, and they must work with us, listen to our prayers, and help work collectively to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

The business coalition promises trillions as the focus shifts to climate finance

On the third day of the two-week conference, Sharma discussed the challenge of securing more than $ 100 billion ($ 134 billion) from developed countries to support poorer nations.

“To meet the obligations of the Paris Agreement and keep 1.5 degrees Celsius alive, we need developed countries to provide public finances,” he said.

Finance ministers from around the world held private meetings to discuss the funding target, which should have been reached by 2020.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she hoped a goal of providing funding to help developing countries move away from fossil fuels could be achieved by 2022.

Sharma said many countries stepped up their commitments and that more was needed, but he was pleased with new commitments from the UK, Spain, Japan, Australia, Norway, Ireland and Luxembourg.

A coalition of banks, insurance companies and investors with about $ 130 trillion ($ 175 trillion), or 40 percent of the world’s capital at their disposal, promised to do more to support international climate projects.


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