As the world’s biggest forum on Climate Change gets underway, we see a lot of talking but will it convert to action?
Already we have seen slanging matches abound at the COP26 forum, where discourse has run as far as to blame opposition parties. But a lack of agreement will come at the behest of large multinationals whose interests are of primary concern to world leaders looking to plan their pension for when they leave office. Whatever happens at COP26, money will be the biggest motivator. If change comes, it will be begrudgingly so.
Another topic that might prevent progression will be the old-school cold war rhetoric currently stifling the dealing table leaving our cards on the floor. Joe Biden has pointed the finger at China and Russia showing he cannot leave his Pentagon belt at home. Although Xi Jinping will not attend the event, he has not left the country since the start of the global pandemic. While China is the world’s largest polluter, releasing more than 10 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, the United States’ record could be far worse. On paper, the United States releases approximately 5.1 billion metric tons, but its consumer demand might inflate that figure when considering demand for iPhones, computers, construction, and other products built with plastics.
China has a long way to go, but it could lead the way in building extensive supplies for wind and solar energy. It has shown its will and intensity for building infrastructure all over the world, so why not look to these examples in order to germ processes that will accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gases.
We not only need to come to a legal agreement, but this is a platform to turn scientists into celebrities, a format the world recognizes and can easily buy into. Arbitrary ‘climate neutral by…’ slogans are too vague but more importantly, the deadlines by which they stand including ‘2050’ or ‘2060’ are far too late. We need to stop treating such a devastating topic as a trend and invest in it as much as we do with immediate threats to life.
Climate change will not just be about rising sea levels and increasing warmth, but the destruction of food sources and loss of life which could spark new wars over resources and land. Ultimately, the only stumbling block this week will be the leaders themselves, and should they not reach an agreement they will need to grow the kahunas needed to sanction countries that don’t comply.