Mathew Hulbert | Columnist | 1 November 2021
Welcome to ‘Mathew on Monday.’
As you may have seen, scores of World Leaders are in Glasgow for what’s called the Cop 26 summit on Climate Change – Cop stands for ‘Conference of the Parties.’
Ordinarily it would have happened last year, but was postponed because of the pandemic.
It sees a high-level set of meetings, across the next two weeks, of heads of governments and their representatives.
As well as the formal talks there are lots of informal meetings going on, in Glasgow itself and online, where business representatives, activists, campaigners and especially young people-who’ll live with the impact of Climate Change the longest if nothing is done-and others are adding their voices to the millions-if not billions-worldwide who are calling for urgent action to be taken to avert a climate catastrophe.
I myself am set to take part in two virtual meetings running alongside Cop; one, organised by UNA-UK (the United Nations Association British branch) entitled ‘From Local to Global-Raising ambition and taking action to uphold the Paris agreement’ and the Cop 26 Regional Roadshow East Midlands-Climate Innovation and Investment.
I hope to learn a lot at these important online gatherings, as well as speaking up myself about why the world can’t wait any longer to take the actions necessary to halt global warming at 1.5 degrees.
Anything more than that, this Century, could be truly cataclysmic for many parts of the world; especially the poorest nations of the world who, in a truly tragic irony, have done the least to cause global warming but are being adversely affected the most.
Western nations-or the global North, as we’re also known-bear the greatest responsibility for putting dangerous levels of carbon into the atmosphere over recent Centuries and must be the ones to take the lead in rapidly reducing those emissions.
Leicester-educated natural word broadcaster, the Great Sir David Attenborough, speaking to the world leaders at Cop 26 earlier today, said the Climate Emergency was “a story of inequality, as well as instability.”
But he also said “our motivation should not be fear, but hope.”
Hope because, for all of the rightly dire predictions if nothing is done, we do still have time, just, in this vital decade, to take the action needed to avert the globe warming at unacceptable levels.
Hope because a Green New Deal could and would see thousands of new, well-paying jobs created in wind and solar and a host of other new environmentally-friendly technologies.
Hope because we can restore our environment and increase biodiversity; showing our love and care for all living things.
Hope because our young people-led by the inspiring Greta Thunberg-have taken to the streets and raised their voices in support of action…of action not tomorrow, but today. Now. And they, rightly, will accept nothing less.
Hope because that’s what we must cling on to in age where, all too often, cynicism wins the day and it’s so easy to feel too tired and jaded to keep up the fight.
But whilst, looked at globally, it can be easy to feel hopeless in the face of a changing climate and too many political leaders who put their own electoral fortunes above rescuing our planet from potential disaster, locally we can do our bit to help the cause.
So often I hear, “well why should I get involved, when the leader’s of the world’s worst carbon emitting nations are sitting back and watching the world burn?”
And in one sense that rationale is hard to argue with.
The leaders of China, Brazil and Russia are not at the table (though some have sent low level representatives) and, yes, tackling this crisis without them board is very difficult indeed.
But we still must try.
Including in our daily lives, right here in Hinckley and Bosworth.
In my role as a Parish Councillor in Barwell, I’m on the authority’s Climate Change Working Group and we’ve been planting saplings, wildflowers and encouraging biodiversity and soon hope to work with schools in our village to encourage children to think about what more their families may be able to do.
I’ve also been looking at ways to encourage Active Travel, such as walking and cycling, locally.
At principle authority level, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council are in the process of installing more electric vehicle charging points, encouraging more people to trade in their gas guzzling, carbon-emiting vehicles for an environmentally friendly vehicles.
And, at a personal individual level, as an SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Campaigner, I’ve signed a Global Goals pledge to reduce my food waste and only buy what I need.
Will you pledge to take action in your own lives too?
As the late, great former U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said, in a different context, “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
The youth of the world and generations still yet unborn will never forgive those of us around today if we don’t do what’s necessary.
There is no Planet B.
Just this earth.
This beautiful evolved creation.
As President Biden ended his address to the Conference this afternoon by saying, “God bless you and may God save the planet.”