In the last couple of weeks we have endured the usual pomp and circumstance of the UNFCCC COP meetings with world leaders and billionaires flying in to share their pearls of wisdom.
The trouble is that emissions are still going up. The largest polluters are consuming what remains of the carbon budgets that tell us what we can burn to stay within the boundaries of the Paris Agreement, leaving very little for the poorest countries, many of whom are facing the worst impacts of climate change even today.
Promises made over the last decades that have been routinely broken mean that trust has evaporated from the COP process. The Least Developed Countries, or Most Affected People and Areas, are being sacrificed first to satiate the appetites of us in the high-consuming nations.
The fingerprint of climate change can now be found in every region of the world and the extremes are coming at us on an exponential trajectory. A growing number of us now realise that we are all equally at risk. Wealth is an unreliable buffer to extreme climate impacts.
It is now confirmed that the snow cover in the European Alps is beyond saving and will be gone this century. The Greenland Ice Sheet, even if we hold to the Paris 1.5ºC, is beyond its threshold of viability.
The loss of Arctic Sea Ice is a huge weather destabilising threat that could cripple global food production which in turn is directly correlated to conflict.
Our attitude towards climate migrants is that they disgust us and should be left to die. We are intelligent but not wise in facing this huge cataclysmic threat.
The COP itself is fronted by world leaders who like the photo opportunities but shirk the responsibility of the offices they hold.
The incumbent UK government is truly a leader in double speak, claiming to be acting in our best interests whilst actually throwing our collective safety under the fast moving bus.
Many other nations are no better.
Among the comments I have heard from the science and academic community this week have been:
- If we don’t fix the climate issue it literally means the end of our civilisation.
- We are going to hell in a handcart.
- Just last night a former White House advisor said to me after a glass of wine, “We are fried!”
- While the former UK government science advisor said twice this week on the record, “If we don’t save the Arctic we are cooked!”
The underlying truth here is that the COP is not going to save us. The anger palpable in the streets in justified because the expectation gap is large.
We are witnessing the agency with which we entrust to our leaders passing back to the people. We can no longer outsource the work of living within our planetary boundaries and restoring our planet.
In conclusion, the 250 million pounds spent on the policing of this event could have been used to develop citizens assemblies at the local, national and international level.
After 26 years of climate policy failure and emissions still rising, we need to find another way.
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