COP 26: The Procrastination Council (when there is no time)

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Procrastination Council would be one of the most accurate descriptions of what is happening in Glasgow. Procrastination is the action of unnecessarily and voluntarily delaying or postponing something despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for doing so. Procrastination is also exactly what the most developed nations have been doing for decades to avoid taking on a challenge that seems to be beyond them: how to make the necessary commitments to address the enormous climate challenge while sufficiently pleasing the populations of their respective countries in order to remain politically and economically stable. Squaring the circle.

The ecological and energy transition is a labyrinth with many false doors and arduous and insufficient negotiations with fierce and implacable lobbies. And in which there is only a glimpse of a single way out that is still poorly defined, but that would inevitably go through the proposals that assume a decrease in the global North, attacking the most key problem of all: economic inequality. This has already been assumed by the IPCCas demonstrated by the leak of a part of its report - Group III - a few months ago, or by the European Environmental Agency. It has also appeared on the front page of the New York Times.

However, all the news coming from COP26 in Glasgow - where I have been for a few days now - suggests that the most important Climate Summit in history (after a two-year hiatus and a pandemic) will go down as another missed opportunity to do what it is going to be essential to do anyway. Tackling the problem of the essential reduction in the use of energy and materials, in order to tackle climate change and also the scarcity of these key resources. Prepare and plan for the fairest possible joint exit. Cooperate or Perish. Other acronyms that seem to me to be much better suited to what this COP and all those that will be necessary after it should be. Those that come after should improve their design if they want to transform society more and should assume more contact with the civil society they claim to represent.

Activist Greta Thunberg has defined with insolent clarity what COP26 in Glasgow is - for the moment. "This is no longer a climate conference" "This is now a global north greenwash festival, a two-week-long celebration of business as usual and 'blah, blah, blah".

And he says it with all the reason in the world: it has been known that the fossil fuel lobby has penetrated so strongly into the COP that if it were a country, it would have the largest delegation. There have also been allegations of funding by these lobbies that affect even the 'top of the summit', its chairman, the conservative Alok Sharma, received donations from lobbyists with fossil fuel interests.

Outside the decision-making zones, the widely shared feeling is that we should assume we are in an emergency situation, communicate it, and then act accordingly - not like, say, Boris Johnson and his private jet.

While the procrastination the procrastination agreements are signed, to reach "net zero" emissions everywhere by 2050, China by 2060 and India by 2070, what would be more interesting to know is how these measures are to be implemented concretely while still aiming to grow globally and not tackling the elephant in the room: that is impossible. To continue to grow in the rich countries and at the same time to achieve the ecological and energy transition with a minimum of social justice.

Because what has already happened with other agreements in the past, which are signed, approved, but never implemented, such as the famous "US 100 billion billion", can happen. the famous "US$100 billion a year", which were to go to "the less wealthy". wealthy nations", which have not yet materialized.. No more blah, blah, blah, no more exercises in advanced procrastination, please.

Many key issues and measures are being discussed at COP26, including accelerating the elimination of coal - with an agreement that neither the United States nor China have signed -, combating deforestation, accelerating the implementation of clean technologies and signing a pact to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030.The COP is one of the most important agreements signed by more than 100 countries to date, but it has not been supported by Russia, China or India. The main leaders of these countries did not attend the summit either, demonstrating the differences between the Western bloc and the emerging countries on how to tackle the situation.

In Glasgow, fortunately, there is also space for the disruptive actions of the movements - such as the march of more than 100,000 people on the 6th, or that of members of the scientific community who announced days before that they intended to be arrested to draw attention, and they did, The leaders of these countries have also failed to attend the summit, showing the differences between the western bloc and the emerging countries on how to tackle the situation, and have even blocked one of the key access bridges to the centre of Glasgow for more than 4 hours during which it rained cats and dogs.

There is also time for debates among civil society, in the People's Summit For Climate Justice, where civil society movements and collectives are meeting to organize, share proposals and information in the last days of this COP. In these talks and actions they are dealing with key issues such as degrowth or democratization through citizens' assemblies, necessary to stimulate collective intelligence and awareness of the seriousness of the problem.

We are facing a summit that is destined to go down in history, the question that remains to be answered is how it will do so. Whether as yet another exercise in greenwashing and procrastination, as at the moment everything seems to indicate, or as the moment when countries agreed on binding measures that take into account inequalities - of responsibilities and consequences - and The COP will be a great opportunity for civil society to start agreeing on the issue that is most at stake in the long term. Plan a decrease in the use of energy and materials sufficient to not destabilize the only stable climate that our civilization has ever known.

About the Author

Juan Bordera

Journalist and content creator.

November 10, 2021 — Juan Bordera

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