Cut activism at climate summits, we want results

Climate justice for the poor is what the moral goal should be while battling social inequality.



A protester holds a banner during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. — Reuters
A protester holds a banner during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. — Reuters

There were no winners at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on Saturday. The world has a long way to go before climate targets are met and celebrations can begin. Ten years; 20; 30? Countdown to catastrophe? We will know soon. World leaders won’t wager a bet yet. They may be in agreement to cool the planet and ensuring temperatures do not rise above 1.5ºC in the medium term. How do we get there is the question. Some deal, any deal was the objective as discussions went cold after assembled protesters and activists had dispersed or made statements from the virtual havens. Climate regulars from Gen Z and Y like Greta Thunberg blamed politicians and governments for failing future generations and the planet. We’ve heard that before. Let’s move on. The venue may have been different but the script remained the same. Former US president Barack Obama also made an appearance but offered little by way of solutions.

A watered-down agreement was finally reached on Saturday evening which fell way short of what needs to be done to reverse the effects of climate change while saving lives and the planet. All this was happening as floods continued to wreak havoc in India as the monsoons extend into the winter months. Forecasters are unable to predict the trajectory of the rains this year and the result is disaster for global cities like Chennai in south India. It is normal to cast the blame on climate change, though unchecked human development on water bodies and farmland is the primary reason for our cities being flooded. The truth is: we are unprepared for these changes in weather. The air and our oceans are getting warmer. Our landmass is parched or flooded. We are swinging between extreme weather which makes our world inhabitable.

So what did the just concluded COP26 climate summit really achieve, high-profile billing notwithstanding? It succeeded in renewing commitments on reducing emissions but was largely ineffective in enforcing its writ on governments. Such groupings, in fact, lack executive teeth. The question, therefore, arises: why should sovereign governments listen and be bound by these deliberations or agreements. Even the UN hasn’t been able to enforce any agreement, forget prevent war. Climate justice for the poor is what the moral goal should be while battling social inequality. In principle, countries agree that climate change is real. Combatting it together demands political will. To reach any agreement, the developed world must provide incentives and funds to developing countries to swiftly make the shift to green technology. Funds must be earmarked for this purpose and spelt out before any deal can be reached. Until that happens, climate summits will serve no real purpose even as activists and lobbyists have a field day.


More news from Editorial

Editorial

Glorious years

Twenty-two years have passed since one of UAE's GEMS school, The Kindergarten Starters, laid its foundation and entered in the world of education.

Editorial8 years ago

Editorial

Predictions for 2013

In 2013, massive swathes of the world will struggle under pedestrian leaders, unable to accelerate growth. The 2008 crisis has metamorphosed into protracted stagflation.

Editorial8 years ago