We’re on the “highway to hell”, the UN warned at COP27 – and not in a good way like AC/DC, but in a very bad way, with continuing weather chaos, famine and mass extinction facing us all.
“Red alert for humanity”, “life or death struggle”, “knocking on famine’s door”. These have all been UN assessments of the situation. But, has it changed anything?
Despite the UN’s increasingly inventive language designed to say how it is, another global climate summit looks to just past us by again.
This year’s COP27 summit – sponsored by Coca-Cola (the world’s number one producer of plastic waste) is really achieving nothing!
One UN official said yesterday – “the COP process is at a crossroads, it must urgently realise its purpose or risk poisoning the well for climate action.” I think they got that right.
As the COP process trundles into its second week, with governments only paying lip service to the ecological devastation, there is a strengthening argument that the process might also be letting our leaders off the hook.
Last Thursday, a major scientific assessment released at COP27 with the support of the UN itself, warned that leaders are still failing to grapple with some fundamental truths about tackling the climate crisis.
Many foreign leaders openly refuse to engage and a limited number do so in good faith. Sadly though, the significant proportion take the ‘Sunak route’ – by ‘talking up’ their green credentials, whilst actually, they just maintain business as usual.
Sunak is perhaps the figure which encapsulates the failure of the COP process more than any other. This year, he said it was “morally right” for the UK to maintain its net zero targets, which he and his government is totally undermining by announcing a round of new fossil fuel drilling licences.
Is it that our governments and policymakers simply cannot or just will not fix climate change? Probably both! In which case, is it now left to us to fix it ourselves?
COP 27 has all the characteristics of the bloated, elitist and ineffectual process detractors wish to portray it as:
Wealthy people from around the world have flown into an eyewateringly expensive resort under an oppressive regime with questionable human rights issues. They are taking part in glitzy corporate events or well intentioned but largely insignificant side events.
The extravagant pavillions and wine receptions are a far cry from the lives of people living in poverty, or struggling under the cost of living crisis or the impacts of climate change. The increasing corporate capture serves to underscore the lack of representation for real people living in a real world.
The world’s population reached 8 billion today. It has quadrupled during the 20th century. It is still rising and may reach 9 billion by 2050. But, even if we could achieve zero population growth today, that would barely touch the climate problem.
Given existing income inequalities, it is inescapable that overconsumption by the rich few is the key problem, rather than overpopulation of the poor many. Overpopulation is not driving environmental destruction at the global level but overconsumption certainly is.
We need to change that and we need to do it together.
Get2Cop wants to redefine the Conference of the Parties. The current circus looks bad and undermines public trust. We need it to be accesible to the real people living in the real world. We need the people of the world to get to COP28 – not literally, but virtually.
Each and every one of us pledging to reduce our consumption and emissions. A mass participation, zero carbon event, led by a generation that can effect real change and not just empty promises. A generation that will demand change by example.
The world needs and deserves a COP fit for purpose. To that end, we must all be there.
Chris Long, Founder Get2Cop