By Stephen Barlow
I’m starting to get the impression of COP26 as a contrived stitch up. Where world leaders get to present their inadequate action as fixing the problem. This really is dangerous stuff. You see I remember the 1992 Rio Earth Summit well.
After the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, political leaders, fossil fuel companies and general vested interest gave the impression the problem was fixed, that there was no need for people to turn to green politics, because mainstream politics had fixed the problem.
In the following years, in the 1990s, we had oil companies taking out big full page adverts in BBC Wildlife Magazine, National Geographic, etc, saying how they were switching their business model to renewables.
Politicians presented all these rosy views of green growth, all sorts of carbon trading schemes and generally giving off the impression that the problem was fixed, and the future was green.
Let us look at the hard empirical evidence of what we actually got in the more or less 30 year since Rio 1992, not the fantasy image they projected to the public (levels of public concern about the climate and ecological crisis were very high in the late 1980s, early 1990s).
Take emissions of greenhouse gases. In this 30 year period, total emissions were more than in the previous 250 years i.e. for all intents and purposes, greater than in the whole of human history prior to Rio 1992.
Now biodiversity loss. The IPBES global assessment, the biggest assessment of the Earth’s biodiversity ever, showed shocking and accelerating declines in biodiversity.
I haven’t even got onto plastic pollution, all the other degradation of natural habitat, the catastrophic declines in bees and other pollinators, etc, etc.
In other words, everything over the last 30 years has been quite contrary to the false narrative peddled after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, where governments and vested interests, convinced everyone that the problem was fixed or was surely going to be fixed.
Look what is happening at COP26. Climate activists have been shockingly excluded from COP26, quite contrary to the pledges of the UK government to make it the most inclusive COP talks ever.
The world’s most prominent climate activist and environmentalist Greta Thunberg, who has given speeches at previous COP talks, other UN events, forums like Davos, was not formally invited.
What we see is the UK PM stealing Greta’s lines, and other senior UK politicians involved in this greenwash, repeating the lines of activists, when these activists have been excluded and not allowed to speak truth to power, to alert the public to what is happening.
We have seen, establishment figures like Prince Charles, Prince William, rubbing shoulders with the richest people in the world with carbon footprints the size of whole countries (what were they even doing here?), all spouting vacuous sentiments and greenwash.
Overall, I see an orchestrated greenwash, PR, spin event, to try and fool the public into thinking everything has been fixed. When I expect emissions to keep rising, and everything to get much worse.
The problem is, unlike the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, where it took nearly 30 years to find out everything we were promised was a scam and it just kept on getting worse - in 30 years time (in fact far less) we are going to be in serious trouble.
This is as evil as it gets. This is an orchestrated PR scam to carry on with business as usual. Where various elements like politicians, the mainstream media, billionaires, royalty and vested interests, combine to maintain business as usual, with fraudulent presentation.
* Stephen Barlow is a naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist and nature photographer.