When last we met I was big-dicking it about how I was determined to join the Global Day Of Action For Climate Justice, Long Covid or no Long Covid. Me and my EnviroBitch, Alex, brainstormed every logistical scenario we could come up with to make it happen: Hiring a wheelchair for the day; hiring a wheelbarrow; hiring a Segway like a displaced security guard; hiring one of those hipster commuter scooters; hiring a rickshaw to have him pull me from the front; hiring a tandem with me doing shit all at the back; putting me on rollerblades with him pushing me from behind; and having me sit on a Trunki with a pair of Heelys on, getting pulled along by a lead. All good ideas, all very practical. Unfortunately one of you squealed to my body, which stuck me in bed for two-and-a-half days and made me miss the whole thing. You rat bastards.
My shameful inactivism aside, we’ve made it halfway through COP26. It’s been a week of photo ops and erasures, announcements and sucker-punches, protests and Borises being colossal shits. On the surface there have been some decent announcements. India pledged its first ever target for decarbonising, promising to get half of its electricity from renewables by 2030, and to reach net zero by 2070. A group of 40-odd countries pledged to ditch coal-fired power within the next couple of decades. A bunch of tree-hating governments pledged to end deforestation by 2030. A collection of 90-odd countries pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030. And a bunch of genocidal capitalists pledged to stop financing fossil fuel projects from 2022, finally seeing a route to money, coke and office lions in renewables.
But wait, there’s less!
That sounds like a decent week’s work. But the closer you look at the detail of these things, the higher your eyebrow raises. The deforestation pledge, for example, sounds like an amazing step forward on account of how trees suck up carbon dioxide and spit out oxygen. But it sounded equally amazing in 2014 when they pledged to ditch deforestation in corporate supply chains and halve forest shrinkage by 2020. Instead, deforestation actually increased because that’s how genocidal capitalists roll. And although 2030 sounds soon enough to be useful, as Greenpeace pointed out it means another decade of gleefully tearing up rainforests for lols. It means another decade of jags like Bolsonaro who is literally setting fire to the Amazon, and who last October tore up enough of the rainforest to cover COP26’s host city four times over.
Similarly, while it remains a relief that the US replaced its climate denier with someone who appears willing to give at least half a shit, the US-led methane pledge is typically coy about one of the biggest sources of methane – industrialised meat and dairy – because voters like burgers. Without genuine effort to scale back one of the planet’s most polluting industries, we’ll get nowhere near their target.
I for one trust Lucy with that football
Aside from the detail of individual pledges, we have the general believability of any governmental pledges. These pinky promises are like everyone’s new year’s resolutions. COP26 is world leaders piling into the gym on the 2ndJanuary, feeling all smug and do-goodery about themselves, the tags still on their Lycra. But if Paris and other pledges are anything to go by, if the laughable deforestation pledge from 2014 is any kind of a guide, they’ll be trading kettle bells for kettle chips by the first week of February in an analogy I’ve already lost track of. They won’t do shit, is what I’m saying.
Meanwhile, in the real world that actually exists, climate activist Ayisha Siddiqa was onstage at the Fridays For Future rally in Glasgow, pointing out that survivors of climate disasters don’t have climate anxiety, they have climate PTSD. Those who have already witnessed the effects of droughts, landslides, hurricanes and air pollution, those who have lost people, who have watched people die, are living the future that awaits us all if those gathered at COP26 don’t do what they’ve promised, and don’t promise more than they’ve done already.
So far we have progress without victory. We’ve taken more baby steps away from the tsunami roaring behind us. So while David Attenborough asks us to have hope, not fear, I’m sticking squarely with fear. But then I think it’s a good idea to call my readers “rat bastards” so what do I know about anything?