By LUCY YOUNG
The IPCC Report was a wake up call for the Western world, but it appears as though our world leaders slept through the alarm. While the British government has so far promised to halt sales of diesel vehicles by 2030 and meet carbon neutrality by 2050, there is still reluctance in other nation-states; China emitted over 145 exajoules of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2020, with the U.S. managing to emit 68 million tonnes in the same time span. The Earth will start to degrade further and at a heightened rate in around 10 years time if we maintain global nonchalance towards meeting governmental proposals and goals.
Britain may be resting upon its foundations of mechanistic industry, reliant upon coal and fossil fuels, but we also have great potential for enhanced dependency on sustainable and green energy infrastructure. Scotland managed to reach its 97% energy target through the use of renewable technologies, while the rest of the U.K. have not even reached half of this goal through their own governmental strategy. The Labour Party have released a manifesto towards the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, whilst we still await proactivity from the ‘Green New Deal’ Conservative task force.
The report begins by summarily stating:
“Observed increases in well-mixed greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations since around 1750 are unequivocally caused by human activities''.
Further introductory remarks only highlight the repercussions that must be addressed after decades worth of complacency, which harboured attitudes of expendability and intense desire for gratification from consumer goods. If we don’t shift our attitudes towards the current pattern of supply and demand, and all variables that interact throughout this globalised process, we will see an intolerable increase in global temperature by the end of the century. Alok Sharma, COP26 President, has recommended that world leaders redraft their plans ahead of the conference in November, to ensure all manufacturing ‘superpowers’ are playing their part.
On August 9th, President Biden tweeted:
“We can’t wait to tackle the climate crisis. The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. And the cost of inaction keeps mounting.”
The irony of this statement is a laugh in the face of struggling nations - the U.S. President, and most powerful leader in the world, is complaining about global inaction against the climate crisis. Another powerful figure, Bill Gates, published a book entitled, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster'' aimed at reinforcing community power and local influence through state-funded technology. This book seemingly ignores the fact that the majority of national emergencies and climate crises can be attributed to big business emissions, not regular people who use disposable plastics.
A common trend scattered throughout the messaging of the climate crisis has been a consistent push of blame upon regular people; an example of this is BP’s marketing ploy of a ‘carbon footprint’, as if it has not been a key player in the small conglomerate responsible for 71% of CO2 emissions. BP reportedly increased CO2 emissions by 2% in 2018, so it is evident that there is no immediate motivation to adopt greener techniques when the old ones are still profitable. Metal straws and recycled shoes do not help us to tackle the climate emergency - global governments must target big business if we are to make change that is remotely effective for future generations.
The Science Museum is an example of big business holding the reins of power when it comes to public perception of the global crisis; a gagging clause was drafted into the partnership agreement with Shell to showcase a climate change exhibition entitled ‘Our Future Planet’. Their agreement stated that the Museum must not, “make any statement or issue any publicity or otherwise be involved in any conduct or matter that may reasonably be foreseen as discrediting or damaging the goodwill or reputation of the Sponsor”. The Science Museum also has partnerships with BP, Equinor, and Raytheon, further demonstrating the reluctance to portray these mass-pollutant companies in their truly destructive and greedy form.
In the U.K., The Environment Bill is currently in the report stage of the House of Lords, and will aim to exponentially shift how the U.K. produces and handles waste. Across the pond, the EPA is recommending an update on U.S. emissions legislation which was last amended in 1990. Further in the East, China is the largest energy consumer and merchandise exporter, with 15% of emissions arising from the steel industry.
Regular people will do all they can to assume responsibility over the health of their immediate environment, but if controls aren’t in place, and if proposed options aren’t accessible, we cannot expect them to adopt a personal responsibility towards an imperceivable crisis.
Image: Unsplash (Markus Spiske)