When you watch the mainstream media, you’ll notice this striking similarity between the climate crisis and the covid pandemic. The media can’t shake this firmly held belief that we have the solutions to both of these crises at our fingertips. The only issue is that unfortunately, neither crisis actually is actually being improved by these silver bullet fixes.
To be clear, we do have the ability to solve these crises, as I’ve talked about ad nauseam. But the solutions are not vaccines and green growth. Conveniently enough, the solution for both is to end capitalism. Sadly though, the media will never tell you that. Or at least they won’t while we still have a chance to save ourselves. Presumably they’ll change their tune once it becomes obvious to everyone that it’s too late to avoid every coastal city in the world becoming a treasure trove for scuba divers.
Boris Johnson at the moment is talking about how frustrated he is with world leaders not doing enough about climate change. So much so that he almost managed to convince me that he cares about the environment. Of course that’s ridiculous. If he was actually mad at other world leaders, he would be mad at himself for pretty much everything he’s ever said and done regarding the climate.
What he’s actually angry at is the possibility that he’s going to look bad when COP26 is a disaster and it reflects badly on him. He doesn’t care if any agreement is based on a fake solution of green growth with a ridiculous target of Net Zero in 29 years from now. All he cares about is that he can take the plaudits for “solving” climate change in Glasgow. Anything that happens after that (eg society collapsing, life on Earth ending) would just be a coincidence and nothing to do with him.
It would be really helpful if very soon we start to appreciate the real solutions, rather than glorifying fake ones.
I remember watching that famous ending to the COP21 when Laurent Fabius hit his leaf shaped wooden mallet on the desk to signify the deal being accepted.
Al Gore was happy, and I was happy. I remember feeling emotional in that moment. Maybe this really would be the start of huge change to the way we live. But it wasn’t. Anyone who follows the up-to-date science knew that 1.5c was a fantasy, but we could forgive that because it showed real ambition. But it turned out that no one cared to live up to that. It was for show on that day, and nothing more.
COP26 however, is almost certain to be far worse. It will be a political affair, not a scientific one. The only job of the UK negotiators will be to get every country to agree on Net Zero 2050. A target that requires basically no government action for the next 20 years. It’s just a nice round date far off in the future. And you can be sure that the net zero target everyone agrees to will have all the loopholes you’ve come to expect. Wood burning? Of course. Shipping and aviation? You bet.
If you still have your hopes up for COP26, I would politely suggest that it’s time to lower them. All the way down. At least then you will be somewhat prepared for the bullshit that’s coming. You’ll still be angry when it happens. Such is the nature of being human. You can never fully prepare, but you can at least lessen the blow.
I’ve been thinking this way about COP26 for a while, but recently reading the book “A Chicken Can’t Lay A Duck Egg” really helped me to relax more. The realisation that nothing you do in the neoliberal political and economic system can save us from climate disaster really helps focus the mind. We have to change the system. That’s all.
Rich people buying electric yachts, electric helicopters, electric sports cars, electric private jets, eco mansions etc is not sustainable. The only way for them to be truly sustainable is to live small and live local like everyone else. We’ve all enjoyed the little things in life during the pandemic, and we have to make that a permanent lifestyle change if we’re to have any chance of having a future to look forward to.
COP26 has no intention of going in this direction. It’s up to the rest of us to make sure we do.