The world has failed, again.
Like many, we think COP26 was a cop-out. Weak agreements and urging change rather than requiring it, combined with the conference’s carbon emissions amounting to the annual emissions of 10,000 UK households, COP26 failed on all accounts.
COP26 was a conference of compromise on an intransigent subject. While world leaders debated for 14 days about whether they were going to save the planet:
· 20,160 rubbish trucks full of plastic were dumped in our oceans
· Around the world, an estimated 191,800 people died due to excessive heat and cold temperatures
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, which has probably melted by now. The irreprehensible damage we have done to the planet is fast becoming irreversible.
We shouldn’t be wrestling over the choice to save the planet. This was meant to be a time for the world to demonstrate solidarity, for world leaders to galvanise and take action now, not in 10 years’ time. COP26 was an opportunity to take accountability for what we’re all doing and take drastic measures to prevent further devastation. It was also a chance to help those suffering the impacts of climate change.
Deforestation is to end in 2030; why not now? Why are there no restrictions in place to mitigate the possibility of companies desecrating the forests in the meantime? COP26 proved the pervasive global ambivalence towards our environment. Nations are not taking responsibility and the communities at the forefront of the effects of climate change won’t be supported. The ‘phasing down’ of coal, while continuing to invest in fossil fuel projects and boasting the largest daily coal production on record, seems a laughable commitment for something that is gravely serious.
Not only has the world failed to commit to keeping global warming below 1.5C, but leaders have also “betrayed humanity” and condemned “more than half a billion people, mostly in the global south, to insufficient water and hundreds of millions of people to extreme heatwaves” says Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard. Powerful nations have a duty of care to countries that are still on their path to growth. With many nations still heavily reliant on cheap fossil fuels, richer countries should have provided funds and promises of green infrastructure. Providing alternatives to fossil fuels wouldn’t hamper progress and would allow economic development to continue. By not providing realistic alternatives, we risk villainising countries that are only just benefiting from economic growth and putting billions of people at risk in places where climate change will have its most adverse effects.
There’s been a great push within the UK about insulating homes, switching over to electric cars and heating, which will have a dramatic impact on household emissions. Despite the UK government providing £5,000 grants for heat pumps, this will only benefit 90,000 households out of the 25 million houses that rely on gas. There are still no subsidies on electric cars and the cost to insulate the external walls on a terraced house is at least £6,000 rising to £20,000 for a detached home. A retrofit project in Northampton is estimated to spend £60,000 on each of the 150 qualifying homes. With costs like these, it’s no wonder that we’re not moving towards eco-friendly homes at greater speed. There needs to be support for communities to move towards decarbonisation as well as better incentives and loans to get people started on their journey.
World leaders have proved they aren’t committed to helping us move forward, so it is down to us as global citizens. hasta believes in the 3C’s of Community, Charity and Conservation. We live by these principles and want to be leaders in sustainable business practices.
As businesses, leaders, employees and citizens, we need to support our local and international communities to ensure we leave legacies, not destruction.
We need to minimise our impact on the planet and choose initiatives that will have a wide-reaching effect.
We need to take responsibility, reflect on our own practices and set them right. We need to lead by example.
We need to go beyond recycling, we need to limit consumption. We are in the business of making and selling things, let’s do it responsibly; source locally, reuse, donate and make every consumer purchase benefit a charitable cause.
We’ve run out of time. We need to be in a business that is profitable for all.
World leaders have proven their disinterest, it’s now up to us.