AND AFTER THE FAILURE OF COP26, WHAT?

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COP26 ended, and with it went the hopes of half the world (I will explain later why the other world is not interested in going as fast as it needs to go).

Agreements to limit the accelerating rise in temperature will not come out of Glasgow. The small steps that have been taken are insufficient to address the magnitude of the climate problem and deal with it properly. Politics, as we have conceived it to date, is proving utterly incapable of managing the crises that are overlapping due to the development of our economic system, which aims to grow infinitely on a finite planet.

As if that were possible.

If you want a different result, don't do the same thing over and over again, said the genius. Well, maybe it's time for a change, and a real one.

Before going into what really matters, let's summarize the agreements that can be highlighted, which are few. The Glasgow Climate Pact has contributed little when so much more was needed.

-CoalThe final text calls for a "phase-down" rather than a "phase-out" of coal, between the lobbies - and let's remember: if the fossil fuel lobbyists were a country, they would have the largest delegation - and some countries like India - in a last-minute intervention that will go down in history - have collaborated to delay a final agreement on a crucial issue, since coal is the most polluting source of energy.

-Subventions for fossil fuels: The same lack of definition for another key issue. Progressive reduction, when what should be agreed is a binding and much more courageous reduction, and prevent industry lobbyists from entering the COPs.

-MethaneAgreement to reduce emissions by 2030. Insufficient. The most hopeful thing is that it is one of the points of the agreement between China and the United States, weak, but certainly necessary. The road forks: cooperation or disaster. We cannot afford another race between powers or blocs when it is time to slow down each one at the pace they can or should.

-Reducing emissions: Nothing. Little new. Countries will have to update their plans next year. Procrastinating, which is the gerund. And a good toast to the sun about "net zero emissions" to make the procrastination complete.

-Financing of those responsible for the victims.It is going to be that no. It improves on what was previously achieved, but that was easy. The most developed countries -technologically- have refused to pay "loss and damage" lest it sets a precedent and the 100 billion -which, by the way, was agreed in 2009, in Copenhagen, and has not yet taken place any year since then- has to be done every year. So we can see how reliable these agreements are if they are not binding.

-Carbon marketsThe problem is that the carbon markets serve above all the fossil industry to bury the problem and continue to think about offsetting emissions, instead of reducing, which is the only way. Trusting everything to the market has not worked, so trusting that one type of market is going to fix anything is missing the point.

There have also been others small agreements on deforestation or stop making combustion cars by 2035There have also been others, but they are still, for the moment, minority and insufficient.

The prospects left by COP26 in Glasgow are twofold: to continue to cook slowly, like the frog in the fable that did not escape from the pot because the temperature was rising little by little, or to jump abruptly. That's all there is to it.

The pot is the productivist system. Call it capitalism or socialism. If you think that at this point, what is needed is to develop the productive forces you are wrong whichever "side" you are on. This does not mean that both systems are equally responsible, it means that we have to know how to look beyond a dichotomy that continues to confront us when what we should be doing is looking for a way to overcome it. If we go ahead, even with the agreements being implemented on time (which is very, very doubtful, given the track record) and considering that emissions are more or less what they are declared (which is also very doubtful thanks to an investigation by the Washington Post which was made public in the middle of the COP) we are heading for a warming of between 2.4 and 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Therefore, what happens now is what happens to all forms of life, and even the IPCC o the European Environmental Agency can no longer hide the fact that it's our turn. Us. In this decade. To decrease in a fair way so that in less fortunate countries the transition to a world that is not going to be anywhere near as abundant in energy as the current one, but that can be fairer, freer, with more time to enjoy, with less pollution, with less microplastics in our blood, with less CO2 particles in the atmosphere - the current concentration is the highest in 23 million years - and with so many other things that would make our lives richer, except in the material aspect.

If you remember, at the beginning I said that half the world is not in favour. Well, let's be clear, there is no time to lose: that half of the world is not specific nations (although there are countries like Saudi Arabia or Australia that are usually on the list of climate villains), it is, generally, the most privileged classes that are delaying the necessary action because they are the ones who would have the most to lose with the transition. Or so they think. Wrongly so. Because the crisis of civilization that bifurcates into climate and energy problems is not going to go away. And to pretend it doesn't exist, to delay the necessary action, or to try to make a profit in a sort of "negotiationism". "bargaining" from the situation, the only thing that will will only aggravate the situation.

Fortunately, there is another half of the world that is speaking out. In the midst of the pandemic, there were marches of more than 100,000 people in the streets of Glasgow, the counter-summit of the people enriched those of us who attended some of the 150 official events that were organized. Scientists continue to increase the potency of their actions. They no longer just leak reports. They also protested by chaining themselves to a central Glasgow bridge in the largest civil disobedience action by the scientific community ever seen in which 21 of them were arrested. The journal Nature magazine or the BBC echoed this action, which is called to be the beginning of something. Our only hope lies in the fact that more and more people are willing to do more than just demonstrate, they are willing - as happened with the suffragette movement, the movement for the rights of colonized peoples, the movement for racialized struggles or against Apartheid - to risk their integrity and their comfort to disobey an unjust law. As the chemist and activist Vandana Shiva says, it is not about disobeying a law, it is about obeying a higher law. That higher law is the survival instinct.


About the Author

Juan Bordera

Journalist and content creator.

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