Eve of Global Day for Climate Justice

November 5th, 2021

Well, COP26 is here; and I’m more preoccupied than ever with climate news…..

Those who know me can imagine my levels of anxiety are high. Along with millions of other people, especially children and young people.

And no-one can re-assure me/us that ‘everything will be OK’….

We are not going to suddenly wake up from the nightmare of the climate crisis and discover a healthy Earth….

As writer Rebecca Solnit wrote, in ‘Hope in the Dark’, “Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action: action is impossible without hope.”

A virtuous circle of hope and action, action and hope….

I’ve read Ms Solnit’s book, but I read that quote recently in Caroline Lucas’s book ‘Honourable Friends?’ – it was published in 2015, and it is both encouraging and depressing that this country’s only Green MP is still fighting for the change that we all need.

I’ll start with the very gloomy news that global carbon emissions are shooting back to the record level seen before the coronavirus pandemic levels.

The Global Carbon Project (GCP) report shows emissions from coal and gas jumping this year by more than they fell in 2020. Oil use is also rising in 2021, but more slowly because transport activity remains below normal – a small consolation, for the moment anyway….

The data shows world leaders have failed to build back greener, with just a small proportion of pandemic spending going to sustainable sectors.

But the scientists also said that hopes (the important word again…) of keeping global heating to 1.5C remain alive if COP26 leads to rapid global action.

Prof Corinne Le Quere, at the University of East Anglia, UK, said: “This is really a reality check….

“The key message is to resist the temptation to be discouraged by our latest findings. The commitments being put in place at Cop26 are really important. It’s important that the countries agree on what they’re going to do and then, of course, plan for immediate implementation.”

Glen Peters, at the Centre for International Climate Research in Oslo, Norway, added: “China is, on the one hand, making extremely good progress, deploying solar and wind and electric vehicles. On the other hand, its economic recovery packages tend to go back to the old way of doing things. But there’s another 70% of global emissions that are not from China as well.”

And, a good point I noticed the other day is that a substantial proportion of China’s emissions are a result of factories creating unnecessary consumer goods for us in the Western markets – a point to be made when people make the strange ‘excuse’ that China is the main culprit….

I don’t know if you get into conversations about the climate crisis/solutions with your neighbours, acquaintances, strangers….? I used to feel, and still do to a certain extent, that it’s my duty, as a responsible environmentalist, to talk about it all with information/education. But I personally find it’s very hard to do (deeply emotional for me) – I hide behind this writing! I admire everyone who ‘gets out there’….    

Conservationist Sacha Dench, (the ‘Human Swan’) has been travelling around Britain in an electric paramotor, meeting people tackling the climate emergency – a television programme, with Joanna Lumley, has covered her progress; but sadly it’s dedicated to her flight partner Dan Burton who was killed in an air collision towards the end of their trip.         

An amazing group, Camino to Cop26, have walked a 500-mile route from London to Glasgow.

Theirs is one of a number of pilgrimages, some coming from as far as Poland and Germany – one group has walked more than 1,000 miles from Sweden. From 18 year old students to 74 year old grandmothers, members of the female-run faith group Camino to Cop26, part of Extinction Rebellion, have been raising awareness about the climate and ecological crisis along the way. On some days they had 70 people walking with them. They were only able to wash about once a week. Steph Alderton, 26, said: “You have to let go of your daily shower. The older people in the group say that was normal when they were young.” Participants have a spectrum of beliefs, from devout Jews, Christians and Buddhists to committed atheists, like Alderton, who left a job as a career adviser to put more energy into climate activism. The notion of ‘intention’ is what makes a walk a pilgrimage, and for Steph it was not about reflecting on God, but learning about the UK’s people and wildlife.

German activist Arnd Drossel has collected environmental promises from passersby en route, travelling inside a giant contraption resembling a hamster ball that he made with his son.

He said: “My main aim is to inspire people. I want to show that a lot of small changes brought together can cause a wave.” 

One of these seemingly small changes could be to pledge to only use non-peat composts. 

Wet peat left in the ground is an amazing carbon store, taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. That is why I am also involved in the campaign to stop moorland being routinely burnt, as happens on the North York Moors (where we used to live) to enable shooting of ‘game birds’…

Check out the RSPB’s ‘For Peat’s Sake’ campaign; and also Wild Justice.

Again on the subject of the lucrative shooting and hunting businesses, National Trust members (of which I’m one – thanks Mum!) have voted to end licences for ‘trail hunts’ (often a cover for hunting of real foxes) – the resolution still needs to be approved and enacted by the NT, but I feel encouraged by the vote.

How can we expect to be motivated to save Nature and wildlife when we encourage the killing of animals?!

Another change we can make, perhaps – stop eating avocado….

I will miss it (deliciously creamy and versatile!), but I’m impressed by chef Thomasina Miers’ decision to invent a new recipe for guacamole in her restaurant chain Wahaca. Avocados have an enormous carbon footprint, requiring 320 litres of water each to grow and “are in such global demand they are becoming unaffordable for people indigenous to the areas they are grown in”.

Ms Miers has created a green guacamole-inspired dip, made from fava beans, green chilli, lime and coriander.

As well as the book by Caroline Lucas, I recommend ‘English Pastoral’ by James Rebanks – it’s a step in the right direction towards sustainable farming, and so beautifully written…..

And I’ve become aware of artist Darren Cullen – he’s created an amazing anti-Shell ‘Hell Bus’.

I really hope you’re all boycotting Shell garages – the big oil lobby has got such damaging power….and Shell particularly is trying to persuade us they’re ‘going green’ while still drilling for oil. Shame on them..

I’ll end however with an upbeat message from Bill McKibben, founder of the climate campaign group 350.org – “It’s easy to feel pessimistic about the climate. But we’ve got two big things on our side: one is the astonishing fall in the cost of renewable energy, the other is the huge growth in the citizens’ movements demanding action.”

And ‘see’ as many of you as possible tomorrow, followed by the People’s Summit for Climate Justice!

3 thoughts on “Eve of Global Day for Climate Justice

  1. Like you I was pleased The National Trust banned trail hunting on their land but less pleased they are selling off Clayton meadow in Dorset gifted to them in the past for housing, and they tell us they are a conservation charity. Meadows and especially chalk meadows are so rare and becoming rarer we should as Trust members be holding them to account. This isn’t the first time they have sold off precious habitats this is not why people join, they expect them to protect valuable habitat.
    They have also supported driving a road and tunnel through Stonehenge maybe it’s time to hold them to account for their actions.

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  2. I try to talk to everyone about the issues, calmly and trying to find common ground, not always easy but mostly people are pretty good and hopefully every conversation helps. My government is such an embarrassment on these issues and yet so many people are concerned.

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