COP26 has misdiagnosed the climate crisis

COP26 was a failure long before the first invitation was sent out and each day the charade goes on the clearer this becomes.

Political leaders in various groupings of countries are making non-binding agreements to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and methane to keep global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

We’ve seen it all so many times before – at Kyoto, Paris, Copenhagen etc (The 26 in COP26 refers to this being the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference since 1995)

But despite all the angst, all the moving appeals for change, all the “good faith” negotiations, all the promises made and all the agreements signed – climate gas emissions continue their inexorable rise, albeit more slowly because of Covid lockdowns.

COP26 will be just as ineffectual as all the previous conferences and why should we expect it to be any different?

When you bring together representatives of the biggest of big global businesses with their political representatives we should expect stalling and prevaricating above all else. None of them have anything to win by reducing their profits, ending their ravaging of the environment or making concessions which yield an advantage to their “enemies”.

And the most dramatic language used to “save the planet” comes from those who want the least change – such as Boris Johnson. He is determined he won’t be outdone on the rhetoric. In fact if one sees COP26 as a battle of style over substance then it makes a lot more sense as a spectacle.

The problem with COP26 is that it has misdiagnosed the problem. The problem is capitalism which requires endless growth on a finite planet for the benefit of the 1%. Our biggest capitalists, so well represented and so dominant at COP26, don’t see a problem with climate change because capitalism has the answer. Changes in weather patterns for example simply means land becomes revalued by the market – land on the dryer East Coast of New Zealand will decrease in value while land on the wetter West Coast will do the opposite. And so on. The invisible hand of the market will see them right but in the meantime it’s important to look busy while the eyes of the world are on Glasgow.

We know climate change will destroy the lives and livelihoods of billions of people but this has never worried big capitalists or politicians before and it won’t in the future. In the face of the human catastrophe ahead, all they need to do is practice their rhetoric and their looks of perpetual sorrow before they move on. Most of those devastated will be poor and brown and easily ignored by the likes of Boris Johnson.

The simple truth is that the planet can no longer afford the insatiable greed of our biggest capitalists and their political representatives.

While they enjoy long lunches in Glasgow, keeping their eye out for any dangers to their profits the people of the world need to be doing something different. We need to be thinking about how we get back control of our planet from the rapacious 1%.

Despite what you read here I am an optimist. I know we can defeat capitalism and its destructive impact on the people of the world and our environment. We can all enjoy good standards of living in harmony with this beautiful planet – but not while capitalism retains its iron grip on our throats.

The environment is on a collision course with capitalism – only one can win and it must be the planet. As the placards say – there is no Planet B.


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