Tag Archives: COP26

COP26: Likely to save the planet?

Now, I’m not the sort of person that resorts to hyperbole for a dramatic opening sentence but, in case you hadn’t noticed, the future of the planet is hanging in the balance. This is not the statement of a wild-haired fanatic, living with badgers and chanting cross-legged in the woods but a widely acknowledged scientific fact. For the last few years a growing list of eminently respectable people have been warning us that urgent action is required: Sir David Attenborough does it, HRH Prince Charles regularly does it, António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations definitely does it, even peers of the realm do it. Given irrefutable scientific evidence and the reverberating voices of powerful and respected people, then surely, you would think, something is going to change. We know the causes of climate change. We know what action needs to be taken. So, what is stopping us?

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Davey tells Johnson to save country and world from climate crisis

As COP26 approaches, Boris Johnson is looking more and more like a rabbit confused by headlights. Flashing into his eyes are the growing number of Conservative MPs who believe that greening the economy fast by driving ahead electric cars, reducing wasteful consumption and cutting our impact on the environment will damage “the economy”.

This is a Tory monopolistic view of the economy. Continue in the old ways that are destroying our planet. That must be good in their view because there is money in shareholder’s pockets.

It is proving hard to convince many national politicians, local councils and punters in the pub that we are in a climate emergency. My own council, Shropshire Council, was trumpeting its climate credentials this morning by promoting an environmentally destructive relief road around Shrewsbury. The details of its environmental improvements are under wraps for now but they seem to involve a tarmac for trees swap. Screw up the environment and plant trees in absolution. I don’t buy environmental confessionals.

But we still need to plant trees. Yesterday, Ed Davey challenged the government on its record of planting trees.

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Science fiction global effort needed for climate or we could face dystopia

The IPCC report is a big report in a big year. COP26 is less than 100 days away. A world still gripped with the pandemic is being urged to get to grip with climate change. Covid-19 has been in our communities. In our bodies. Debilitating and killing in real time. Climate change has been around the corner. Out of sight and too often out of mind.

No longer. Heat bombs, floods, droughts, all predicted consequences of climate change and the strains to which human activities are putting on our planet.

Yet, we still get contradictory messages from politicians.

In the UK, a legacy of fossil fuel addition has led to the approval of new oil and gas exploration and the stuttering progress of greening schemes. Worldwide, there is a growing consensus on the need for action but also an inertia against such action.

The great sci writers, Arthur C. Clarke and many others, envisioned the world acting together against galactic and universal forces at a time of crisis. There is an alternative vision of the future. Dystopia. And that could be our future if COP26 fails.

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Wera Hobhouse on 100 days to COP26

Yesterday, MPs debated COP26 Conference Priorities in a Westminster Hall debate. The debate was co-sponsored by Wera Hobhouse. Lib Dem MP for Bath. She said this is the biggest opportunity for real climate action since the 2015 Paris agreement, after which we have had a “string of incredibly disappointing COPs”. Wera called for the government to get its own house in order instead of paying to lip service to climate change. The Government has failed to set any direction on how to heat homes in the future, how to expand the electricity grid for increased electricity need, let alone on tackling emissions from heavy industry, shipping or aviation.

COP26 must be a COP of global solidarity. It is time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is. The world is watching to see whether the UK will step up to the plate.

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COP26 will fail unless we grant it the powers of a supra-national council

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H.G. Wells’ ‘end of the world’ fantasy saw civilisation saved by a friendly virus, but in 1951 a new type of apocalyptic fantasy appeared in cinema screens.  In The Day the Earth Stood Still humanity was given an ultimatum: put aside petty squabbles and come together, or be annihilated.  Michael Rennie’s authoritarian ‘alien’ was clearly a depiction of human reason triumphing over the insanity of armed conflict, and the film reflected the founding principle of the United Nations; endless wars were the problem the human race faced.

We are now living the reality, and the problem isn’t wars.  We face the end not only of human civilisation but of much of the natural world, and one of the millions of species headed for extinction could be our own.  However, the message of hope from 1951 is as powerful as it was then.  By uniting behind a single purpose, the concerted efforts of the human race could overcome the challenges we face.  We don’t have the stern, but kind-hearted, alien laying down the law, so what we need instead is a world council tasked with creating a survival plan, and empowered to enforce it.

We already have the UN, but that was created after the horrors of World War II, and felt its first duty was to render impossible future invasions and annexations, so its founders sought to guarantee the sovereign right of countries to be free from the fear of invasion.  Individual national sovereignty is an idea which is now hopelessly out of date, and it has become positively harmful.

Climate summit meetings still accept that each country has a right to act as it will within its own borders.  They try to achieve consensus about what each can realistically do about climate change, but those that don’t want to sign up don’t have to.  Sovereignty is a meaningless luxury when the damage to the environment affects the entire world, and sovereignty was probably always a delusion (Imagined Communities,  Benedict Anderson, 1983), with the lines on today’s maps mostly just the residue of past wars and arranged marriages.

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