COP, or conference of parties is the high-level agenda meeting for 2 weeks where countries discuss how do we actually stick to the 2-degree challenge (preferably, 1.5). I attended as an observer and though engaged in a lot of questions and discussions, I felt so much more could be done. Though I should accept a lot more has been achieved from the last years, especially on the front of the bottom-up approaches and the involvement of the public. There were also some great discussions on carbon finance and carbon pricing – how developed countries are lagging behind in attaining the NDCs (Nationally determined contributions) to prevent the climate change, and how developing still needs finance.
But what put me off most was the lack of discussion on the life cycle approach and the associated environmental impacts. EU and most of the developed countries also focussed on the emissions, and that too the carbon emissions – but forgot the holistic environmental footprint impact. Also, the aerospace industry was there, but there were quite little discussions on the actual strategies and most of the countries were giving up because the Paris agreement says nothing about the aviation. Another sad part was the reduced participation from the countries: especially many underrepresented parts of Africa and much-reduced involvement of USA. Coming from Zurich, I looked for Switzerland – but found them missing – they claim to do their part with quite an eco-friendly lifestyle of the consumers, highly clean electricity mix and a large support of funds for Africa Development banks for climate mitigation and adaptation. What they forget is their supply chains – and apparently, there was no one to discuss this with.
There were some really new agendas being pushed – mostly by China and Poland on the nuclear energy and the social sustainability issues were blindsided even in Q&A rounds. This is a bit terrifying, but they say it is still “clean”. The other thing which scared me was the division of dialogues between different countries – e.g. EU focused on the energy, while the Pacific islands pushed on the food production and biodiversity. There was no bridge or discussion between the two, ironically that these pavilions were right behind each other.
So who wins this – or rather, how do we stop thinking of this as a cooperation and not a competition? I am not sure, as I have no clue how political agendas work. Personally, I am a tech-savy-tech-pro-tech-nourisher. And I believe science is the way to go, but I have serious implementation fears with misaligned agendas of the countries. I hope the frameworks like those by Canada for carbon pricing, the recommendations as in the tracked clean energy progress by the IEA, and other tools and methods actually get some more attention. I hope.
But what I take away for the next year? I take away the need to have a more positive discussion, with countries talking about not what I did good and what you didn’t – but honesty. I hope countries are open to accepting what they could not do good and what they can do better. I know this needs much more fundamental changes in our political and industrial systems, but I hope we change – for the good of humanity. For the good of the one planet we have