Environment Director, Business in the Community (BITC)
Opinion: It seems that every time the United Nations’ Climate Summits (COPs) finish, there is an instant backlash about how little has been achieved.
Reflecting on last year’s summit in Glasgow, the whole process at COP26 felt adversarial, with those who needed to be heard unable to raise their voices above the noise.
Was COP27 in Egypt a failure?
There were notable disappointments: no commitment to absolutely phasing down fossil fuel use; the 1.5°C narrative was weakened, and wealthy nations are now two years overdue with the $100 billion per year collectively committed to support developing countries. But this also felt like the first COP where some important realities were acknowledged:
- The responsibility of the rich world to pay towards the ‘loss and damage’ being suffered by poorer countries who have not caused the problems — but will impact them the most.
- The repeated reference to ensuring a just transition emphasising the importance of social involvement in designing and delivering change.
- The recognition that the voices of women, indigenous communities and young people are central to effective action.
- The links made between the current cost of living crisis and the importance of transforming our energy systems to reduce the risk of global market shocks.
- The focus on adaptation with a greater emphasis on food, water and the importance of preserving the ecosystems and biodiversity we depend on.
Addressing the climate crisis has never been about saving the planet. It has always been a psychological, social, political and economic challenge. About saving us from ourselves. It means we need to recognise that we share this small, fragile, blue pearl flying through space. But if we continue to favour competition and the accumulation of short-term wealth over the wellbeing of the whole, we will cause ourselves pain.
Addressing the climate crisis has never been about saving the planet.
Time is running out. We must do more and do it faster. We must also recognise that we need big shifts in hearts, minds and visions of success if we are to prevail. Inspiring a collective ambition to be the generation that turned things around. Giving people the confidence that our efforts will be worthwhile. These are the missing links in our current approach.
Our future really is in our own hands. So, let’s work together to design and build the future we want.