They think it's all over...
The last couple of weeks have seen the ultimate team challenge as the countries of the world took on the Climate…working together for our planet. This was no normal competition, the stakes are incredibly high, we have to change our behaviour in order to save the place that we call home.
As the competition (COP26) started, a star-studded team was revealed. The players from a truly global team, some familiar politicians who are big fish in their respective ponds, others… new faces, all people with passion for our planet. As each player stepped up and spoke to the crowds, the level of expectation grew - this was the time and place to make a change, could this be the pivotal point in the history of our existence on this planet?
The build-up to this match had been huge, every country was involved, all eyes were on this team and every player was advocating the same thing, stop using fossil fuels and keep the 1.5 alive. It felt like the team was united, strong and ready to make a difference.
This was also the first time the countries of the world had communed en-masse, face to face since the Covid pandemic broke in early 2020 – something that had shuck the world, awakened people to take control of the direction of their lives and, or course the fragile reality of human life.
It wasn’t just Covid that has shown how exposed we all are, the global weather events in the 9 months up to this event saw heat, flooding and drought on scales never seen before, in places that had never experienced extreme weather events. The patterns were clear, the science and data even clearer about what needed to be done, and done NOW!
We heard lots of promises and some passionate dialogue about this once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference for generations to come. There was a sense of optimism, this could be THE turning point, something that would be remembered for millennia to come. The outcome was going to be a win for everyone on the planet.
151 countries responded to the rallying cries, submitting new and updated “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) to the UN – including China.
With the new pledges came increased ambition – shaving 0.2C off warming, if fully implemented – but the UNEP “gap report” published just before COP26 had once again exposed the gulf that remains, if the world is to stay below 1.5C.
The major tackles included...
The pundits, and there are 1000’s of them, nervously stood on the side lines, watching with baited breath, everything was still tom play for in the second half.
COP is an endurance event, two weeks of promises and negotiations and after the positive talk of the first week it was hard to tell where this particular COP was going. The initial speed and style was clearly waning. Fingers crossed with a rest day, the team would come back refreshed and the speed would pick up again.
This was painful, all the promise of the first half seemed to evaporate very quickly, the major players weren’t even at COP anymore, so how could the big decisions be tackled? The time ticked by slowly with little to show for the efforts of the team. Then in a final flurry, as the clock ticked down the big guns came back and desperately tried to reassure the waiting crowd that the game was in hand, it would be tight, but we’d get there (we are ever the optimists), this would be a win for people and planet.
But they didn’t act quick enough, the final whistle blew and the team was in disarray, not knowing who was doing what and how they should support one another.
It’s never good when a match goes into extra time, especially one as important as this. The world was watching, waiting…could this be the one?
Let’s be honest this is never a good place to be. COP was already overrunning by 24 hours, the world needed a conclusion and here we are facing sudden death - for some quite literally. Then the news broke, some of the team had changed sides, in the last moments of the game we saw people’s true colours and humanity scored a massive own goal.
The people of the world agree that the Climate Challenge is the biggest threat to our existence. It’s something that we have all contributed to, consciously or not, and it can only be solved if we work together.
Not giving up
There’s no denying the result of COP26 is not what team 'human' wanted but we cannot give up. We did make great progress with the Breakthrough Agenda. This is described in the COP presidency press release as ”a commitment to work together internationally this decade to accelerate the development and deployment of the clean technologies and sustainable solutions needed to meet our Paris Agreement goals, ensuring they are affordable and accessible for all”.
More than 40 countries, including the UK, US, China, Australia and India – endorsed the agenda, which has five “Glasgow breakthroughs” to aim for.
Collectively, the goals cover “more than 50% of global emissions”
The political ‘players’ are answerable to us, the people they represent. This is our opportunity to show that people can work together, support one another, take the steps necessary to protect our home, our planet. It’s never been more important to show your stripes, engage people in the climate story and work together to find sustainable solutions.
We can do this!
We have proof! The Ozone hole, which was growing year on year through the 1970's and 80's, causing the warming affects that we are now living through, is now rebalancing. It's a slow process, planetary systems take time to respond, as we've all learnt. 1987 saw the Montreal Protocol passed as people, business and governments realised that this had to be stopped. A couple of years later in 1989 there was a global ban on the use of CFC's. Previously these gases had been used in all kinds of products and processes, people said that they couldn't be made any other way, but we innovated, tried new things and the products were, and are still made, without the CFC's. We know this is very much work-in-progress, it shows what can be done when we work together, the planet responds, nature responds and we find a new way.
Why use the football analogy?
There were a couple of reasons for this, first as a self-confessed non-follower of football I find it amazing the power that this sport has to unite people, I’m also aware how devisive it can be, but let’s keep things positive.
Events such as the World Cup see entire countries come to a halt, backing their team all the way. The emotion is massive and that’s for a game with around 25 people with a ball, where the outcome is far from life or death. If we, as creatures can be that passionate about football, then we should have the Climate Challenge nailed – here’s hoping.
The second reason to the analogy was when I attended COP26. As I said above I don’t follow football, though I have been to a few matches. Walking through the West End of Glasgow towards the Science Centre it felt like I was attending a massive football match. There was a huge police and security presence. The ‘temporary’ fencing looked more like a prison, huge steel structures, floodlights and a foreboding level of security. The stewards drilled you into long queues with military precision and control.
It was an experience that I’ll never forget as life inside COP, well in the Green Zone where we were, couldn’t have been a starker contrast. During the day I spent there I spoke with people from around the globe, everyone clear about what needed to be done with lots of ideas and optimism about what we can all do to help. This optimism is what I’m hoping to keep going through our continued work with the #ClimateCode project, the British Antarctic Survey and other collaborators.
If you'd like to explore how DressCode could work with you in this space please get in touch.