Al Gore was forthright. He said that at the Paris COP in 2015, the key challenge was denial. In Glasgow, the message is clear – it’s delay.
The exciting thing about joining the marches with Greta was the feeling of being one of many who recognised the dire predicament the world is facing. There were marches across the globe but perhaps I got swept up in the COP bubble – joining forces with like-minded people. Of course, there are also millions and millions of people totally oblivious to what’s happening – and others still in denial.
Most of the politicians – at least the ones who attended Cop26 – were convinced about the challenges we all face but overwhelmed by the gargantuan task of working out what to do about it – and getting meaningful commitments.
The target it seems is to increase global temperatures by no more than 1.5C. The trajectory pre-Cop was 2.7C. It’s not at all certain the target will be reached – or that it would be enough, even if it were. I have to admit that I wouldn’t be very enthusiastic about being a resident of the Marshall Islands – which have a maximum height of only 10m above sea level.
One very forceful speaker was Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados. She asked the audience at the opening ceremony “Are we so blinded that we can’t see the cries of humanity” and explained why it was necessary to act in the interests of all of our people. “1.5C is what we need”, she said “2C is a death sentence for the people of Antigua, Barbuda, the Maldives, Fiji, Kenya, Mozambique and of course Barbados. Finally pleading with the delegates to ‘try harder’. “Our people, the climate army, the world, the planet needs our actions now, not in the next year, or the next decade”, she said.
But many of the leaders from nations with the greatest impacts did not come to the table. There are some real villains in the world’s war against climate change. Bolsonaro President of Brazil is possibly top of my list. He has personally been responsible for a massive increase in the destruction of the Amazon, with deforestation reaching a peak in 2020. There are others too in the villain’s hall of fame – Putin (Russia), Xi Jinping (China), Scott Morrison (Australia). They appear to be more committed to economic growth for their nations over saving the lives and livelihoods of the millions living at the front edge of climate impacts.
“Our parents will die of old age, but our children will die of climate change’. So read one banner on our march through the streets of Glasgow. I found this particularly poignant as I peered into prams and saw toddlers sitting astride their parent’s shoulders. What a world are they inheriting.
Many of the young are fearful but they’re also angry. How could our generation be so selfish? Perhaps it’s not too late for us to turn it around, but it’s certainly going to require us to move away from complacency The solutions we must adopt cannot be incremental improvements. They need to be radical changes to our lives, to the way business operates and of course, for government to be brave and bold.
Greta talked about the need for leaders. Ones that stand up and get us all to follow. I’m amazed at how vitriolic so many people are about her – perhaps it would be worth age profiling her detractors. However, in my view, she’s small in stature but a giant in terms of impact. She’s an inspiration – uncompromising, focused, science-based and incredibly brave. Let’s support her and vote for leaders in her wake
I was persuaded to go to Cop26 by my youngest son, Monty Bryant. He said that it would be a life-changing experience for him and a chance for us to work as a mother and son team, in what has become the ‘family business’! I hadn’t appreciated what a landmark it would be for me too. On the way back I was buzzing with ideas – and more committed than ever to be a force for change.
Yes, I agree with Al Gore. There’s no time to wait. The time for action is now.