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Take it from the soup throwers, COP’s a cop-out

Holding the next climate conference in the oil-rich UAE shows how wealthy nations hide behind smug green nimbyism

If you’re enjoying the many hypocrisies flushed to the surface by the
World Cup in Qatar, then allow me to go one better. Next year’s United
Nations Climate Change Conference is to be held in Dubai. Yep, lovely,
green Dubai. A place so committed to environmental stewardship that I once
heard a resident describe the slick, viscous sea between the fronds of the
man-made Palm peninsula as “a bit athlete’s foot-ish”.

The same Dubai that, despite having little oil of its own, is also found within the UAE,
the world’s seventh-largest oil producer and third-largest per capita.

Forget the UAE, though, and come back to Britain. Probably, like me,
you’ve been fuming at environmental protesters these past months, as
they’ve thrown food over artworks, shut down roads and had annoying
names, like “Indigo”. Yet perhaps you’ve also had a latent sense of
guilt nagging at the back of your mind. On a global level, inaction is
still what we get.

Egypt’s Cop27, which finished this weekend, made zero
progress towards keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5C, despite
basically every country on the planet agreeing that we’re in trouble if
we don’t. Instead, discussions focused on the extent to which the richer,
more developed world should be paying “loss and damage” compensation to
the places that climate change affects the most.

Protesters talk often about the grim impacts of warming on “the global south”, and they’re
right. Recent floods in Pakistan, for example, displaced millions of people
and cost the country so many billions of pounds that they might as well
have had Liz Truss as PM for six weeks. Yet it’s also true that the same
poorer countries have the most to lose from future rises too. In effect,
they’re blackmailing the richer world by pointing a gun at their own

From Dubai onwards, this raises the prospect of Cop becoming a forum
that exists not to prevent climate change but rather to argue over who pays
for the damage while it rampages on. This, even while virtually every
individual government that is a part of it has a commitment to keeping the
rise down. Which, in the end, can only lead to a sort of environmental

As in, you sort out your own backyard, if you can afford it,
while also not quite thinking about the effect your consumption or your
exports might have elsewhere. Much like the UAE. Much like us. If this
seems hopeless, that’s because it is. Sorry, but you know it, I know it
and the pink-haired soup-throwers know it too. Indeed, over the past couple
of months I’ve often worried that our swift rage at the imbecility of
Jocasta and Moonstar sticking themselves to a flyover, or whatever, is a
form of very basic displacement activity. It’s so much easier for us all
to condemn them for everything they’re doing wrong than it is for us to
grapple with the big thing they’re entirely right about. Which is that
the governments of the world are bodging this.

 Times 22nd Nov 2022


November 22, 2022 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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