Flicking through the ‘Outcome of the first global stocktake.’ (from this year’s CoP in Dubai) I am bemused by the apparent reaction in the world’s press and the ‘reality’ of the document itself.  It would seem that once again, we are lying to ourselves that we are doing a good job; or as Samoa (apparently the only ones brave enough to do so) said “we have made an incremental advancement over business-as-usual, when what we really needed is an exponential step-change in our actions and our support.”  Too true if you ask me… even so, what perhaps is the most galling, is the standing ovation that Samoa achieved for this speech (after the deal had been finalised whilst they were out of the room) from all of the parties who presumably had JUST AGREED THE DEAL!

By all means read the document, if you can stand the turgid repetition of stuff agreed in Paris, and bland statements about how we expect countries to review their commitments, and how we are all so very, very dedicated to achieving 1.5°C.  An interesting point of note for me was found in paragraph 25 which “Expresses concern” that we have already burnt through (literally!) 80% of the estimated ‘carbon budget’ for maintaining a change of less than 1.5°C.  More worryingly, this ‘carbon budget’ is not a cast-iron guarantee that we’d stay under 1.5°C, rather it is a …wait for it…. 50/ 50 chance.  Assuming I read this correctly, the lowest target that we have set for ourselves (and which, incidentally we are light-years from reaching) is only a 50/ 50 chance to keep the temperature under 1.5°C.

The document as a whole merely highlights the so-very little tangible progress towards the targets set in Paris in 2015 that we have made.  My cynical nature concludes that all we have done here is to massage the delicate egos of those in power, in the futile hope that keeping them sweet may encourage them to do a teensy-weensy bit more this time around.

The contradictions with which this ablutionary parchment is littered include an early statement “Acknowledging that significant collective progress towards the Paris Agreement Temperature goal has been made…”;  a whole 3 paragraphs (21) before the document “Notes with concern” that… significantly greater emission reductions are required to align with the… Paris Agreement”.  This would be bad enough in itself, but is clearly based on ploicy promises and not policy delivery as it goes on to “Note” that this level of success would only be if the policies behind the nationally determined contributions are fully enacted… which ever-so-slightly suggests that that have not been…  in fact, the next paragraph indicates that according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) the policies implemented so far fall well short of the targetted nationally determined contributions (NDCs).  So exactly what are we congratulating ourselves on then?  In the 8 years since Paris, we have made a few promises, which if kept would not achieve the targets we set for ourselves, and which by the way, we haven’t even bothered to implement…  perhaps it truly is the though that counts!

The financial support and adaptations are equally laughable, parties are reminded that an estimated $387 billion is needed per year to counteract the effects of our inaction… following which the document ‘welcomes‘ the progress so far: with contributions in 2021 totalling around $90 billion!  Woo Hoo! Globally the world achieved 25% of the goal it set for itself… I think perhaps we can afford to ease off now no?

Much of the document itself refers back to Paris, (apparently the only COP in living memory to actually set any ambitions…) one paragraph (30) even refers to the reduction (over the past decade) in the price of ‘low-emissions technologies’… One can only wonder then why the fuck this hasn’t had any tangible impact on the countries actually meeting any of the obligations which they so proudly and vociferously claimed in Paris then!

Parties are continually ‘invited‘ to be reminded of their commitments, or ‘requested‘ to provide plans as to how they will achieve the targets; even ‘urged‘ to be more ambitious!!!  We haven’t even come close to meeting the targets we set for ourselves 8 YEARS AGO!!!  and yet now we would like to set even MORE ambitious targets..?

In fact, there is little need to go through the whole document (at least, not here).  It is clear that this document spends the majority of its contents praising participating countries for having said something 8 years ago, they are then again praised for vocalising their desire to work towards this goal, whilst having neither started nor completed sufficient policies which would achieve it.  So basically, what we are looking at here (minor success aside…) is a reminder that we all agreed to something in Paris, and that quite frankly, we are nowhere near achieving it, nor have we even planned to…  although we did commit to planning to; honest!

Whether we expected more from this COP or not, it seems clear to me that we are not prepared to be truthful about what we simply haven’t done…  The world’s press are reporting this deal as a ‘landmark’ document, one which ‘takes aim’ at fossil fuels…  it doesn’t, it doesn’t take ‘aim’ at anything.  This represents a collection of excuses, false praise behind which out-going world leaders can hide whilst claiming their ‘grand achievements’ towards climate change.  In reality, this is yet a further example of a document which authorises the kicking of the can down the road, and it seems inevitable that if we allow this to continue, then we will shortly arrive at the point at which it doesn’t matter what we really, honestly, truly, no-no seriously we will this time, say and do…

I counsel my daughter that she should never lie to herself…  maybe I’m the one who’s out of step eh?

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