Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: Jul 22, 2020

General Questions

1. What is the purpose of the Glasgow Agreement?

The purpose of the Glasgow Agreement is to reclaim the initiative from governments and international institutions and create an alternative tool for action and collaboration, for the climate justice movement. Until now the climate justice movement has had a very big focus on pressuring governments to take action on climate, or to push for stronger international agreements within the framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), such as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 or the Paris Agreement in 2015. Meanwhile, emissions have continued to rise. Hence the Glasgow Agreement proposes that civil society proposes its own plan of action, no longer waiting for governments and international institutions to do so. We aim to use a vast array of strategies and tactics, including civil disobedience, to achieve the necessary emissions cuts to prevent a 1.5ºC temperature rise by 2100.

2. Which organisation(s) are behind the Glasgow Agreement?

So far, at least 55 organizations have confirmed their participation in the process. The proposal for the Glasgow Agreement was presented for the first at the By2020WeRiseUp meeting in Iberia (Spain and Portugal), in February 2020, and at the By2020WeRiseUp meeting in Brussels, in early March. Other activists from organisations and grassroots movements around the world were consulted on the first draft.

The first draft is where the initiative started working from, but the final text will be a product of the discussions between all the organisations that decide to participate in this process. Names of the organisations participating in the process will only be made public if they give full consent to do so. The only organisations that will be publicly connected to this event will be those that sign the finalized text of the agreement.

3. Why is it called Glasgow Agreement?

This initiative is called the Glasgow Agreement because the initial proposal was to sign it during the COP26 in Glasgow, planned for November 2020. With the postponement of COP26 to 2021, a discussion started on the name of the agreement. A final decision was reached and organisations decided that the name should be kept as “Glasgow Agreement”, with the subtitle “People’s Climate Commitment” underneath.

Who can join and how?

4. Which organisations can join?

Any social movement or organisation, small or large, local, regional, national, or international, can join, except for political parties and churches (religious groups can join). It is not necessary that your organisation is legally registered in your country. Commercial companies should not join as the purpose of the agreement is strictly non-commercial.

5. Our organization is good at technical issues but is far away from direct action, can we join?

Yes, one of the commitments in this agreement is to share skills globally, so you can help other organisations with your technical skills and other organisations can help you with direct action, tactics and skills if you so desire. (Also see question 16)

6. Can I join as an individual?

This agreement is made for organisations, not individuals. So, although you can join as an activist if you commit on building the Glasgow Agreement, you cannot make political proposals, particularly for the agreement text. You will be able to attend the assemblies and join the working groups.

7. How can I join the Glasgow Agreement?

Your organisation can join the Glasgow Agreement process by emailing glasgowagreement@riseup.net with the confirmation of your participation in the process of building the agreement. This does not mean that your organisation commits itself to signing the agreement in the end; it only means you have a mandate to be involved in the process, to make proposals and participate in the process of building that final version. In the end, when there is a final and agreed-upon text, all organisations will have to read the final text and make a decision on it.

8. If my organisation joins now, what does this mean?

It means your organisation can now join the assemblies, participate in the working groups and make political proposals for the text of the agreement. Joining now does not mean you already agree to the final text.  

How does it work?

9. What is the structure of Glasgow Agreement?

The Glasgow Agreement does not have a fixed structured, in order to adapt to needs and context. We have an assembly and working groups. The following work guidelines are respected:

  • i) decision making by consensus;
  • ii) inclusivity and respect;
  • iii) a decentralized approach;
  • iv) the only rightful space for political decisions is in the assembly;
  • v) the assembly is a sovereign body;
  • vi) only organisations committed to building the Glasgow Agreement can send proposals for the agreement text.

10. Why can proposals for the agreement text be made only by organisations that have confirmed their participation?

Political proposals can only be made by organisations as the political power we aim to create for the climate justice movement cannot happen without the organisation of collective agents. Moreover, we want to avoid loose or uncommitted proposals.

11. How are decisions about the process and the agreement being made?

The decision-making process and proposals are an articulation between working groups and the assembly. We strive to make decisions by consensus. Political decisions and overall decisions are made in the assembly. The assembly also gives mandates to the working groups, which decide on their own internal process and operational decisions of their mandate. Working groups can bring proposals to the assembly.

The agreement text decision making process cannot make room for neither abuse of power nor hierarchies, and there must be an active effort to reach consensus without losing the propose of escalation and compromise. Therefore, during the first months we will use ongoing feedback loops for the development and construction of the text.

The only text constrains is that it must be short and concise, fully inside the limits of time and emissions, as well as inside the definitions of climate justice and civil disobedience.

12. How can I join the Assembly?

The active participation in the assemblies is conditional to the commitment made by organisations to participate in the process of developing the Glasgow Agreement.

Organisations interested in joining can be invited to take part as observers (including the ability to ask questions) but will not be able to take part in decisions until their organisation has expressed its commitment.

Individuals that confirm their commitment on building the Glasgow Agreement can join the assemblies but are not able to make political proposals.

There is an active effort to have simultaneous translations on the assemblies.

13. How can I join the working groups?

After you or your organisation has confirmed commitment you will receive a welcome kit with the steps to join working groups.

14. I don’t speak English; how can I participate?

Right now, our working language is still mainly English. We recognise the need to expand to different working languages soon, in particular, Spanish.

Solutions for non-English speaking people are being worked out, and it is an open process. We have thus far translated the text into Spanish, French and Portuguese. However, feel free to communicate with us in other languages (especially Spanish, Portuguese, French … etc.), and we will be happy to assist in any way possible to look for ways to make the process more language inclusive. We recognise that this is important to build a truly global and inclusive Glasgow Agreement.

About the Agreement

15. Why is the focus/commitment on civil disobedience and non-cooperation?

The main narrative of the agreement is that movements should not be dragged into the failure of institutions. We know about the threat of climate change since at least 1980, we have tried many tactics, there have been two international agreements (see What is the purpose of the Agreement?), and yet global emissions continue to rise while time runs out.

When institutions fail us, civil disobedience and non-cooperation are the most important means available to us, as citizens of this world, to take action ourselves, to escalate and coordinate globally, and to reach the emissions cuts needed to prevent climate catastrophe.

16. My organisation does not consider practicing civil disobedience, although we think it is legitimate that other organizations use this tool, can we be part of the Agreement?

Yes, your organisation can be part of this Agreement, as long as it is not opposed to other organisations taking civil disobedience.

17. What is the purpose of the inventory that is to be produced?

The inventory will provide a listing of the main emission sources within the territory of a state (or region, if this is more useful), focusing on specific infrastructures, sectors and companies. Based on this, organisations of the Glasgow Agreement, that are located in a given state or region, will develop priorities for emissions cuts, that is, a list of infrastructures in that area to be shut down through different tools. This inventory will take into consideration the specific historical or political conditions of each country, and the level of emissions cuts required, will be analyzed through a “fair share” perspective, that is, in accordance to historical responsibilities.

18. Is the production of the inventory a complicated exercise? (We are afraid to commit to something if we are not certain that we have capacities to achieve it)

The process is being worked out at the moment, and we hope to make a sample inventory and a template available shortly. This will also be something that can be articulated with academic institutions.

19. What is the advantage of focusing on infrastructures?

When institutions produce their climate projects, they split the total percentage of greenhouse gases that need to be reduced through different sectors. While it is necessary to understand where the reductions are needed in many cases this approach has led to inadequate action. Instead if we use this information to guide inventories that focus on concrete facilities, infrastructures, plants or fossil fuel industries that need to be shut down, we will be talking about what these cuts really mean and what they look like on the ground. We will stop addressing emission mitigation in an abstract way, but rather focus on political programs that can be immediately implemented.

We are aware that shutting down polluting infrastructures is not sufficient. We need a just transition, which includes creating alternatives. By shutting down existing facilities, infrastructures, plants or fossil fuel industries we will increase the political, social, and economic pressure for a just transition.

20. Does the Glasgow Agreement mean the institutional advocacy work should be abandoned?

No. Every organisation that wants to continue the institutional struggle is welcome to do so. In this agreement however, that is not the goal. We focus on the power of the people and movements to cut emissions and shut down harmful industries and projects. Many movements to date, have focused on pushing institutions to take action, nevertheless we have failed to achieve the necessary results to prevent catastrophic climate change. With the Glasgow Agreement we look for a commitment for adequate, timely and concrete action, which institutions are invited to catch up with as well as commit to.

21. What communication is planned around the Agreement? Are you going to do a public campaign before signing?

There will be a signature event as well as public campaign for it. However, there isn’t yet a decision about the format and logistics of it.