Heroes and Villains – a personal reflection by Greg Pike, MESS member
In 2015 I returned from COP21 in Paris, relieved that some agreement had been reached, but also dismayed at the lack of a plan to achieve it. How would we limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees or less, by 2050? We needed answers
Well COP26 in Glasgow was billed as the conference to provide them. Governments were told to arrive with firm plans to meet that target set in Paris. Things had moved on. Climate change was accelerating rapidly and scientists warned that COP26 was the “last chance saloon” for a global agreement.
So how did it play out? Well Glasgow proved to be quite an absorbing drama, with heroes and villains, fine sentiments, hubris and duplicity, but at the end, a sense that, although the wrong people still hold the keys to our global madhouse, there were grounds for hope.
There were definitely many heroes. The thousands of young people from across the world who made difficult journeys to have their voices heard. They spoke in the conference and at fringe events, with searing honesty and a huge scientific understanding of the issues we face.
Also heroic were the scientists. They were quick to analyse and fact check the “sound bite” statements of politicians and corporations, alerting us to their frequent “inaccuracies.” When not engaged in conference sessions, they dashed around the City to attend fringe events and provide intelligent perspectives on real ways to save the planet.
Chief among the villains were our politicians, who often seemed out of their depth. The science of climate change is complex as are the solutions. True understanding of the issues seems beyond them, so they cling to a belief that their pals will bail them out. Ineos will produce hydrogen, Nissan will build electric cars, we`ll plant a few trees and live happily ever after.
Similarly, the multinationals in Glasgow, believe that the survival of the planet, which they`ve plundered for decades, will only be delivered if the solutions are good for their shareholders. It was extremely alarming that the largest single delegation in Glasgow were the 503 lobbyists representing the fossil fuel industry.
Sadly, their influence was seen in the Conference`s final agreement, which contained inadequate measures to phase out coal, oil and gas production, and no real financial agreement to enable the poorest nations to develop sustainable economies and mitigate the effects of climate change.
The final view of most scientists was that we were hanging onto to the 1.5 degree agreement by our fingertips. Encouragingly, however, many said that our best chance of achieving this target lay with ordinary citizens reconsidering their life styles and demanding change from their politicians.
In simple terms it`s really up to us, which is a very good reason to read the excellent book “The Future we choose” available from Borrowbox at Marple Library.
MESS members in Glasgow and Manchester – 6th November 2021
Delivering a letter to our MP
On Friday 29th October 2021 a group of MESS supporters went to William Wragg MP’s office to deliver a letter asking the government to accelerate efforts to combat climate change. Mr. Wragg was not present so the letter was posted through his door.
The COP26 will take place in Glasgow from 1-12th November 2021.
There are four major goals for COP 26
1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
3. Mobilise finance
4. Work together to deliver
See https://ukcop26.org/ for more information and write to your MP and ask them to support these aims!
Here are some of the actions that MESS has taken to send to the delegates.
MESS members address COP 26
The original authors retain the copyright to the videos and posters, (for details, please contact Geoff Tomlinson at MESS) however, this material is free to be distributed and used without amendments for non commercial purposes and we encourage people to do so. Some photographs can be found on www.pexels.com and are free for any use. With thanks to CAFOD, Evangelista, Hayley Trowbridge at People’s Voice Media, Helen Middleton, and other members of MESS for their support and contributions. Videos edited using open source Kdenlive on Ubuntu. © 2021