In what is becoming an all-too-familiar affair by those in power and politics, the COP26 Glasgow Climate Conference has confirmed that citizens cannot rely on those who hold our lives and planetary life in their hands to do the right thing by being responsible for making the right moral decisions that serve the majority.
Today, the climate emergency has become business opportunities for those who put profits, and duplicitous ‘green washing’ and technological wizardry ahead of addressing the planetary catastrophe. No amount of tinkering and sophistry can hide the fact of the developing rift by human (destructive) economic activity vis-a-vis capitalism, and the interaction with the global environment, and the climate emergency.
Atmospheric carbon has amassed because fossil capital is still largely unregulated.
Almost all the scenarios described by scientist to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that limit warming to two degrees Celsius (let alone 1.5°C) require a massive and rapid deployment of carbon drawdown infrastructure. Yet there is still not one large gas or coal-fired power station anywhere in the world that is capturing and storing its emissions. ‘Direct air capture’, taking CO2 from the atmosphere, is still a small-scale infant technology.
It is abundantly clear, that expecting our elected political leaders and corporate business CEOs to take decisive action, against imperilling most of humanity, especially the poor, is proving futile.
The world is home to 900 million slum dwellers who live without basic sanitation, two billion sweatshop workers, and 40.3 million slaves.
What all this adds up to, is that effective action can only be taken by people mobilising and wresting power from those who own and control the institutions of economic and political power.
No easy feat, especially in our culture of individualism, where many have become atomised and estranged from any democratic decision making.
Hannah Arendt, the political theorist who survived Nazi Germany, saw hope as ‘a dangerous barrier to courageous action [and i]n dark times, the miracle that saves the world is to act.