To coincide with COP26, some of the participants from The Anthropocene and More-Than-Human World Writing Workshop Series decided to share their thoughts about the conference. What is striking across these four contributions is the mixture of despair and hope. Read on to find out more.
Advertisements in New York’s Times Square leading up to COP26 is a timely reflection on Australia’s conservative federal government inaction addressing climate change. Our marketer-in-chief Prime Minister Scott Morrison will spin his “net zero” pledge in Glasgow – which has no new policies, fossil fuels caps or specifics on how Australia will reach this target. Just this month, the federal environment minister has approved a third new coal project leading up to Glasgow. It is, to be honest, an embarrassing time here in Australia.
However, the rhetoric has also shifted on addressing Climate Change in Australia, which has been a political issue for decades. Australian’s want bold climate action, and are actively resisting disastrous mining projects. The 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires were a devastating reminder on what climate inaction will continue to look like.
Our Prime Minister will not embody what we want for our shared futures at COP26, but I have hope. Hope in the collective action of citizens pushing for progressive policies. Hope in centring Indigenous voices to combat climate change. Hope in the creation of new worlds that focus on multispecies care, community, and justice. The future is still ours to make.
With it nearing the commencement of COP26 at Glasgow (31Oct—12 Nov 2021), it was a delight to join the Warwick Climate Negotiating Forum (WCNF) 2021 happening at Warwick University between 29 and 31 Oct 2021. Representing delegations from different countries in this simulation designed according to UN’s global climate negotiations, all delegates together with the amazing WCNF team deliberated over global climate concerns and the contribution each country can make in its own position to tackle climate change in the next few decades. A range of workshops and talks delivered by outstanding researchers from different UK institutions and representatives of different political parties in the UK, focused on climate-related issues and their possible solutions. These talks were based on topics such as: carbon offsetting, youth activism for climate action, climate storytelling, indigenous food sovereignty, biodiversity, zero carbon transition, climate justice and inequality, energy transition, and sustainable enterprises. What I liked about all these talks and about the delegations was that there was a consensus that the climate crisis is not an imminent global concern rather we are in the middle of it. To be able to achieve UK’s goal of net carbon zero by 2050, everybody agreed that robust planning and policy implementation is needed around the world. Hopefully, a similar consensus and relevant policy will arise at COP26 as well.
I think it speaks volumes, with the narrative of “we will build back better, and greener”, the reliance of technology to ‘fix’ everything, the focus on big business and capital. We have quite literally left those who are disabled, women, and those from the Global South, at the door. In my pessimistic eyes, I think this sums up the potential outcome of this crucial event. The focus has never been on the more than human world itself. Nothing will change until we put the planet and all those who inhabit it before economic growth. The state propaganda surrounding the UK taking leadership on climate action is almost laughable, particularly with the announcement of the budget allowing us to yet again see where their priorities lie.
If I were to be a more optimistic person, I would hope to see those at the forefront of climate destruction and how they have already had to adapt, prioritizing their voices and leading the way. This should be without fear of abuse or risk of murder. I would hope to see a significant proportion of the focus on agriculture, as farmers are one of the keys to unlocking a healthy planet – this summit fails to do so. Leaders may pledge to reduce emissions in 10, 15, 20 years’ time, reach net carbon zero, or ‘blah blah, blah’ as perfectly summed up by Thunberg. The system needs a radical overhaul. Business as usual cannot continue, the damage already has and will continue to be done until we put the more than human world first.
There will be plenty of talk about cutting carbon emissions at COP26. However, we still need to address biodiversity loss, habitat loss, water scarcity, toxic pollution, inequalities, poverty and resource scarcity. All of these issues are interlinked. Whilst it is hugely important to focus on cutting carbon emissions, we cannot ignore these other issues. There should be more focus and attention paid to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets, the aim is to take action to ensure a healthy and sustainable planet for humans and the more-than-human world. The goals still recognise climate change and the need to take urgent action to address it. However, these goals and targets acknowledge the interlinked dimensions of the problems facing humans and the more-than-human world. If we act, we can make a more just and fair world.