Failure」タグアーカイブ

Opinion: Cop26 has been a failure and our lacklustre world leaders are to blame

Opinion: Cop26 has been a failure and our lacklustre world leaders are to blame
We may have to suffer through some really catastrophic consequences to get the (mostly) old men who run the world to shake themselves out of their torpor and seek treatment for their addiction to hydrocarbon company cash

I’ve only sort of vaguely looked in on Cop26, chiefly because it feels like a case of lather, rinse, repeat with these things.

The news veers from bad, to good to bad to good to bad, and right at the death, something emerges that elicits a great big “meh” from people who actually care about their children having a planet to live on and who know what they’re talking about. Sometimes, we have to wait until after the death. Deadlines, it seems, can always be broken when it comes to planet earth.

Sure, there have been some bits and pieces that could, with a large dose of happy pills, be seen as grounds for something resembling optimism. America and China agreeing to cooperate on reducing emissions was a surprise. They’re the world’s two biggest emitters, its two biggest economies, and they’re geopolitical rivals. So that’s nice.

But they’re still going to burn coal. They’re still going to fund new fossil fuel projects. They still don’t really seem to have worked out that the cost of inaction is far higher than that of action. So that’s not so nice.

We’re supposed to be ending deforestation by 2030 too. That one’s had some positive press but I have to admit that it didn’t impress me greatly. I found myself asking why not end deforestation now? Seriously. Will there even be any forests left by 2030? Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit there. But there will be an awful lot of trees burned and cleared for cash in the interim.

What really concerns me is the fact that the commitments that have been made are only worthwhile if governments stick to them. Can we rely on them to do that, as political winds blow back and forth?

Even if the American/Chinese deal is worth something, it mightn’t last. All it takes is for the White House to flip to a Trumpy f*** the planet Republican for the whole thing to fall flat on its face. And maybe Donald “I’m going to have another pissing contest with Chayna” Trump himself gets the nod. We’re in for it if he does.

My fear is that we may have to suffer through some really catastrophic consequences to get the (mostly) old men who run the world to shake themselves out of their torpor and seek treatment for their addiction to hydrocarbon company cash. It might take a succession of really nasty eco shocks, the sort of things that make the California wildfires look like a British back garden on bonfire night.

The world’s less wealthy countries stand to get hit hardest from the emissions of the richer ones. The places which find themselves in the climate’s frontline and lack the resources to complete large-scale engineering projects or to develop carefully thought out water management schemes. The plight of their citizens, sadly, only tends to get noticed when a celebrity hops over with a camera to make a tug-at-the-heartstrings broadcast.

But the rich world won’t be immune. Those fires will be back. Perhaps the low countries – and maybe London too – will flood. The Netherlands’ efforts on this front have been quite remarkable, so good that even the rabid climate deniers at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News have been known to hail its efforts.

It helps that the country is super rich. But even the sort of skills that would have a reincarnated King Canute saying “goodness me, this is how it’s done” will only get you so far against the melting ice caps.

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment sign up to our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by clicking here

As a side note, I do wonder how Europe will respond to a vast internal migration made up of mostly white people, as opposed to the brown people left stranded at the Polish border. Could Britain face something similar when London and the south get too soggy, and their populations try to move north? Look at the projections and the maps. It isn’t impossible. I don’t imagine that will go down too well either.

The leaders of places like China and the US can fortify themselves, in the former case with repression, but maybe in the latter too. It has worked for them in the past. It mightn’t do so this time, however. What we’re facing is quite unprecedented.

But there is still a chance that the eco-campaigners will save the wealthy’s pampered asses. The civilised guerrilla tactics of organisations like Follow This – which buys shares in oil companies with the aim of forcing change through shareholder holder resolutions – may be more effective than blocking roads in the middle of London. But I guess this is a case of whatever it takes.

The hard fact is that the world’s leaders are failing. Cop26 has proved that. The world’s people, and especially its young people who’ll have to clean up the almighty mess, will simply have to keep piling the pressure on. The climate scientists’ projections look horrible, frightening. Our leaders’ limp response to them is dismal. But the worst thing we could do in the face of them is to succumb to despair.