25 June 2022

Saturday, 12:11

TO BE OR NOT TO BE

What will be the contribution of agreements reached in Rome and Glasgow to the green future of our planet?

Author:

15.11.2021

Apparently, nobody seems to be satisfied with with the outcome of the talks between the powerful leaders about the consequences of global warming. This is not surprising, since the outcome of the G20 summit in Rome held on October 31, and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow held in early November can be simply characterised as a result of incoherent actions of participants. Thus, some countries pledged to fight against deforestation, some declared war on coal production, some did not promise anything at all, while the rest made so evasive promises that they would be better off promising nothing at all. Adopted deadlines are different for everyone, mechanisms for implementation and sanctions in case of non-compliance have not been determined and there is no one to determine them yet. So, the participants yet to develop a general plan of action. Moreover, as we know from the experience of previous years, a government change in one of the signatory countries can easily suspend all the ‘green plans’. Yet nobody uttered the key words about the reasons of our existing troubles.

 

Disasters with consequences

Indeed, the humankind has something to be afraid of. Like the events we witnessed the past summer. After all, the increased air temperature carries not only the risk of death from heat waves, but also triggers other weather anomalies like floods, tornadoes, etc., leads to natural disasters, such as forest fires. Together they deprive people of shelter, habitat, and, most terribly, access to crops and drinking water, which can subsequently lead to famine. Once productive territories can become areas unsuitable for human and animal habitation. Rising levels of carbon dioxide also lead to respiratory and other dangerous diseases, including depression and dementia, while natural disasters can cause the outbreak of contagions...

In Rome, almost all countries of the world agreed to keep the temperature rise on the planet within 2°C of the pre-industrial level, and ideally limit at 1.5°C. How to do this if the demand for energy grows in parallel with the population of the Earth? Nobody can answer this question. After all, even the production of facilities generating alternative energy requires energy. A vicious circle? It seems impossible to combat climate warming in a world divided into the developed and third world countries. Because this makes poor countries even poorer. In other words, in the era of globalism with interdependent economies each country is offered to sacrifice what it has. Although it is obvious that we need a general plan to reduce consumption and production. For example, in order for Indonesia and Brazil to stop cutting down their forests for the production of palm oil, cocoa beans and soybeans, everyone must agree to live without chocolate and some other products dependent on these ingredients. In parallel, it is necessary to somehow compensate for the loss of income for those who are engaged in the production along the entire chain. But neither in Glasgow, nor in Rome, anyone suggested that, in principle, we will not lose anything if for some time live without new models of smartphones and other gadgets. Because it’s impossible to make such a suggestion. It is not so easy to stop the industry; it’s much easier to prohibit an Indonesian peasant from cutting down the forest. But this will not help fighting against global warming either. Here is the catch...

 

Climate and competition

China, the largest source of exhaust gases today (historically the US was the largest polluter ever),  refused to take on excessive commitments. Amid geopolitical rivalry with Washington, which had built its power throughout the 20th century actively polluting the planet, Beijing’s position is understandable. After all, the US has nothing special to say yet either.

The Western media note that this year America spent 20% more coal than last year. Also, observers noted a demonstrative motorcade of the American president with 100 cars. And it didn't matter whether Biden had promised to cut emissions by half by 2030 compared to 2005 or not. In addition, if someone with the same views as Trump replaces Biden in the White House, then he can apologise for the promises of his predecessor, and we’ll have to wait for another four years until the previous promises come true...

It is also alarming that Joe Biden announced the US ambitions to become a leader in the climate protection movement. This means becoming a leader in the production of new technologies and access to them. Is it a new stage of the global geopolitical struggle going in hand with the fight against global warming? Many observers, including those in Russia, were surprised that Moscow suddenly became more flexible in climate issues than before. It seems that we can expect something similar from China as well.

Now, when the whole world consolidates forces to focus on the ‘green agenda’, Moscow and Beijing likely do not want to suffer from ‘green’ sanctions either. They are trying to find their position and say in this global game, which is going to expand every year because of the changing supply chains (like the Northern Sea Route, for example). Both the character and regions of agriculture will change. But the most decisive factor may be the access to drinking water, which may well become the ‘new oil’ of the future, as the UN experts predict it...

In this context, it is alarming that the initial data and other factors with no clear assessment scale can be easily manipulated. For example, a number of Russian media outlets reported the ongoing deforestation processes in Brazil and Indonesia, while in general this is not true for the world. Because a temperature increase contributes to the growth of vegetation (like in the greenhouses). Well, this does not work on every corner of the planet, which makes it yet another factor for reflection. In a geopolitical sense...

 

Income inequality

Therefore, the most important question challenging the humankind is not when the transition to the ‘green future’ will take place, but whether this transformation will be humane. Indeed, in combating climate change, we are facing the same existential problem we have been facing for years now – the fight against international terrorism. The problem has been voiced more than once, but it seems that it has not been taken seriously. It is called income inequality. Indeed, it’s not only about the quantity of food, but also the quality of available medicines and education facilities. This is sad but true – many people simply cannot understand what those very important persons in Rome and Glasgow are talking about... When the prestigious Western media outlets instructively recommend their readers and listeners, especially the younger generation, to be more responsible concerning what to eat, how to travel, and what to buy, they hardly understand that their calls simply mean nothing for those who literally are forced to survive. It is not only the greed for profit that compels the ordinary people, as opposed to large companies, to cut down trees, but also an elementary necessity to provide for their basic needs. A tree chopped down by a peasant in the jungles of Amazonia can eventually lead to the death of our planet in a hundred years. Otherwise, his family and himself are doomed. Would you dare explain this difference to him? After all, how morally substantiated is your explanation?

However, it is obvious that we will have to take measures to save our common planet. If not voluntary, they forcibly. But who and how will do this and what are the risks? As we could see during the recent migration crises in Europe, some similar situations can easily get out of control.



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