On Sunday 31st October COP26 is due to start. It ought to be the most important and influential meeting in human history. We as a species are at a precarious tipping point. We are heading toward climatic and ecological breakdown. Our very life support systems are being destroyed by greed and stupidity. We could change direction, but tragically the whole COP process is in the hands of the most greedy and venal politicians imaginable.
The UK government is hosting proceedings in Glasgow. Yesterday Rishi Sunak presented his budget. It featured a cut in aviation taxes, ongoing expansion of oil, gas, airports and roads, and other detrimental policies which indicate a total lack of action in terms of planetary healing. Sewage is being dumped in our rivers and seas while privatized water companies rake off obscene profits and squirrel them away in offshore tax havens. Serco’s 37 billion pound track and trace system was an utter failure in helping combat Covid yet siphoned this enormous sum of money away from the NHS and into the hands of the most greedy and incompetent people imaginable. Brexit Britain is in a weaker, more divided and more isolated political position in the world than at any time since the Suez crisis, or probably very much longer.
There will be many people at COP26 who want to help steer a very different path for humanity. A path that gets to zero carbon emissions as fast as possible, and does so in ways that promote global social justice. Those pressing for such a change of direction are a very diverse group of actors, each with somewhat different perspectives, but complementing each other. Perhaps some countries may emerge as leaders. The most likely candidates are small islands states like the Marshall Islands, or countries like New Zealand and Finland that have the best of governments. There will be companies and agencies promoting a solar and cleantech revolution and there will be the activists from the myriad groups around the world trying to lobby for change. New leaders may emerge, big ideas will be discussed. I will follow the news via many sources, including George Monbiot’s COP26.TV and the tweets of many inspiring activists and participants, as well as the mainstream media. Last week Greta Thunberg wrote an excellent article in the Guardian setting out what needs to emerge from COP and particularly the crying need for honest climate leadership. I will of course be interested in her reports from Glasgow. She is the outstanding leader of our times. We need people like her in positions of power. Instead we have evil clowns like Boris Johnson. The shear tragedy of it.
My own feelings on the eve of this momentous meeting are a mix of love and hope, frustration and rage.