It seems to me that human-caused climate change is now a readily accepted phenomenon, and certainly, in most political and economic theatres it seems that it is no longer credible for it to be denied.  Yet despite this, it is clear that unlike the efforts of humans to destroy the planet, the efforts to save it are insufficient…

In one month, countries will meet at the COP26 – the 26th yearly meeting of the decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Yes, this is the 26th time they are meeting; they started meeting in Berlin in 1995.  In anticipation of this perhaps, the UN IPCC released a report concerning the current state of affairs.  The report highlighted the current objective of limiting (because yes, it is now considered unavoidable) global warming to 1.5°C.  This objective was set formally in 2015, however was requested as early as 2008, and was included as a desirable goal in the 2009 COP in Copenhagen.  SPOILER ALERT: we are way off!

In parallel to this, the organisation Climate Action Tracker published conclusions concerning whether or not the actions (and promised actions) of countries could achieve the target of limiting warming to 1.5°C.  Only 1 country has targets in line with the Paris Agreement – congratulations to The Gambia.

Not only have governments not done enough to seek to address climate change, but we are now being warned that COP26 will also fail to set the necessary targets for this goal.  (As is the modern way of these things, we are being told upfront so as to reduce the possible outrage when governments fail to act…)  Even research groups led by the industries responsible for polluting are now highlighting humanity’s failure to act: the Energy Transition Commission (ETC) has released ‘New’ research which frames the issue as trying to keep the 1.5°C target alive… at least for the next round.

In summary then, we are not doing enough, we know we are not doing enough, and furthermore, we know that we are not going to do enough…  Why?  Well, you’ll be surprised no doubt to hear that greed is the reason why…

According to a recent UN report, the general public are generally both convinced that climate change is an emergency and supportive of taking action: 64% of respondents agreed that climate change is an emergency, of those, 59% said that “the world should do everything necessary and urgently in response”.  This would suggest that politically, there is enough room there to support drastic and immediate action…  so why are governments not doing this then?  (Goodness, could it be the case that governments no longer work for the people..?)

In short, the changes needed to hit the 1.5°C target are systemic: humans need to radically change the way they live to even hope of hitting this target.  This means using less of the planet’s resources, destroying less, eating less, making less… our very way of life, our very model of civilisation is the problem.  (An excellent short animation discussing this can be found here.)  However, human society is governed and controlled by those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo simply because it profits them personally: whatever we may think, society is not governed by democracy – it cannot be, otherwise governments would be taking action!

Certainly, changing the way we live would have deep and permanent changes on the way our societies function, and the basic principles on which our societies are based (continual economic growth, global trade, etc.) are threatened by this.  Societal change is not a rapid process without violence, and those that hold the power to change our societies today simply do not wish to change; for fear of risking the little (or lot) that they have.  So rather than actually tackle the issue head-on, governments and industry try to do as little as possible to impact the status quo whilst at the same time maintaining a public face which is intent on convincing those who see climate change as an emergency, that they are doing all they can.

The UK has set a target of Net Zero Emissions for 2050 – which is broadly aligned with the ‘best-case’ scenario targets from the IPCC: maintaining warming at 1.5°C.  However this scenario requires that emissions reduce TODAY, not tomorrow, not in 2025.  Furthermore, reports suggest that the government spending towards their policies is only 10% of what is needed to make them work.  Combine this with a report from the Internation Energy Agency which indicates that emissions are due to rise in 2021; the second biggest rise in history, and you can see clearly where we are.  Governments are not doing enough.

The plain fact is, that no government, nor major corporation actually wants to do anything to affect the current economic environment – an environment which sees them get rich off the back of the limited resources of our planet. The controlling rich are manipulating the public agenda and the poor, to support their drive for more wealth.  A recent example of this is the exploitation of the island of Nauru by TMC, which is using its financial influence to push the agenda of deep sea mining – something which is likely to have untold impacts on our environment.

Despite the high level of public support for action on the climate emergency, those in power continue to obfuscate and manipulate the reality of the situation for their own benefit.  This lack of responsiveness, this lack of democracy, this selfish pursuit of the status quo is threatening the very existence of multiple species of life on this planet – including humans.

The discussions being held, the promises being made are nothing more from a distraction; they divert attention from the real issue that is being faced here and allow humanity to continue on thinking that the path we have chosen so far remains the right one.

It isn’t – and it needs to change: NOW

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