More than 30,000 activists, politicians, and policy analysts have converged on Glasgow for the 26th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC. Six years ago, the Paris conference set the stage for nations making binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the debate itself began in 1992 when the scientific community convinced politicians that climate change was a discussion worth having. It would seem to some that little has been accomplished. For me, the Greta Thunberg’s of the world would have you believe that discussion is the only outcome of the COP gatherings. That these conferences are, in her words, “blah, blah, blah”. My issue with this stance is that it gives no credit to the many people that have been working for the better part of 30 years to try and solve the many problems.
I think it’s fair to say that there was very little public consensus in the early 1990’s that ‘global warming’ was even occurring, let alone was human created. The scientific community had been building an agreement, but the public seemed to have little idea of the magnitude of the situation, not like we do today. For one, there was no Twitter, or Facebook at the time. Information moved slower; it took longer for ideas to build momentum. And this meant that patience was required.
Protest is vital in my eyes, of course. Activism is one of the main reasons this issue gained ground in the first place. However, protest alone will not likely solve problems. Scientists and policymakers have the ability to get things done in my view; it just takes time. Getting a group of people to agree can be incredibly difficult. It may follow that the more complicated the debate, the more difficult the consensus. There is no simple switch to flip to fix this problem. There are thousands of switches, and likely hundreds of nations with their own agendas. The biggest problem now, is that time is of the essence. I concur that humanity must act quickly if we are to reverse the damage done over the last century and a half.
Luckily one might believe that this sentiment is finally being agreed upon by the world’s leaders. In the first two days of the conference a landmark deal was reached by over 100 nations covering over 85% of the world’s forests to put an end to global deforestation and commit over $19 billion to rebuild the forests. That same day, President Biden announced the ‘Global Methane Pledge’, signed by over 70 other nations. Not including India, Russia, or China. The pledge commits to reducing methane waste at oil rigs and landfills by 30% by 2030. This action alone could contribute significantly to keeping the global temperature rise at or below the 1.5 – degree mark.
Over 100 nations also pledged to end global deforestation by 2030, this time putting their checkbook on the line and committing $12 billion to the cause. Along with this monetary pledge, several developed nations have said they will be contributing billions of dollars to the Global Climate Fund with the intention of reaching $100 billion a year in financing. Along with these national commitments, the world’s billionaires have joined in; Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $315 million over the next three years to CGIAR to aid small share-holder farmers in rural Africa and Southeastern Asia. Jeff Bezos through the Bezos Earth Fund has committed to donate $2 billion between now and 2030 to restore ecosystems through planting trees and promoting climate-smart agriculture. Even one of the wealthiest people alive, Elon Musk, is considering donating $6 billion or 2% of his total worth to the UN World Food Programme on the condition that they explain to him how the money will be spent in ending world hunger.
Whether it is the world leaders or the richest 1%, I think that the message has been made clear to the world; ‘take climate change seriously now’.
Yes, we can all do our part by recycling and not wasting food, but real change may only come through large-scale transformational actions by our governments and wealth holders. So, if you agree with me, take to the streets or the internet and demand their immediate action. Do not take pandering or lobbying interests for a cop out. If we are going to save the planet from the increasingly inevitable demise of climate change, we must act now.