Thoughts on COP

Ice fall at glacier front

As scientist I spent many years finding out how human activity (in my case, metal mining) affects soil, water and organisms, how pollutants move and change in the environment, where they finish up.

As engineer, it was never enough to evaluate the state of the environment against the targets for water and soil quality. Targets are worthless unless action follows. I want to reduce the strength of the pollution sources and interrupt the pathways into the environment.

As human being, I find it heartening to find others agree with me (in a direct analogy) on the point of focussing too much on the targets for greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts, rather than drastically reducing their sources (New Scientist 22/11/22).

Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely applaud the COP27 outcome of setting up a ‘loss and damage’ fund for lower-income countries. But the cost for mitigation, loss and damage grows with every gram of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gas emitted.

Madeleine Cuff’s article argues that the answer lies in concerted action by all nations to reach the target, make the green economy work, support lower-income countries to reduce their emissions, and that needs, in Kaveh Guilanpour’s world, political leadership*.

Waiting for political leadership can be frustrating, and waiting for others to do the right thing is disempowering. That’s why I like and highly recommend the Imperial College guide 9 Things You Can Do About Climate Change‘. It’s practical and doable, and reminds me in the run-up to Christmas, that it is not the ‘stuff you can buy for money’ that counts, it’s people and relationships.

*Kaveh Guilanpour is a former climate negotiator and now works for the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions in the USA.

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