What are families to make of COP26

Nov 18, 2021

Some interesting research has shown that 5 of the governments of the 193 countries signed up to the UNFCCC are responsible for about 50% of carbon emissions. A similarly small number are responsible for the devastation of the rainforests. However, there is evidence that a similar scale of emissions can be attributed to communities of about 10,000 people where there is power and influence to reduce these to zero, or thereabouts. If the proceedings and results from the Glasgow COP imply that Governments cannot be trusted with the care of the planet then we should all be concentrating of our local communities to do the job for them.

In the UK 10k is a small market town, or an urban district of a larger town or city. There would be a number of ward councillors and a town or city council with potential powers over new development, transport and the management of green and blue infrastructure. It is no longer credible to wait for national governments to see the light and regulate for lower emissions and halt biodiversity loss even as enlightened self interest. Central government cannot divest itself from matters that have no relevance to extracting its peoples from an environmental crisis; GDP, military spending, controlling migration, locking up dissenters/protesters, hiding sleaze from public gaze etc etc. Fortunately local communities and councils have little or no skin in those irrelevances and can concentrate on those matters that need urgent attention.

So the logical reaction to COP26 is to add to the energy being given to local collective. Standing for election, encouraging local politicians to become climate and ecological activists, setting up and expanding the activities of Climate Emergency Centres, raising standards for new development and developing programmes for upgrading existing, contributing to the regeneration of the local bioregion, holding neighbourhood assemblies to develop complementary programmes for more local areas. Family members might have to divide their loyalties between those to which they are closest emotionally and in daily life, and the wider community (of up to 10,000 people) where collective actions might be most effective. If time is short these calculations are very important and it might be time to abandon hope that central government(s) will have the answers and apply all available energy to where it matters.