- Date published:
10:00 am, November 2nd, 2021 - 30 comments
Categories: climate change, COP26, sustainability - Tags: climate activism, how change happens, India, India Logan-Riley, indigenous activism, nature rights, systems thinking
Expect lots of blather at the UN climate conference COP26 from the neolib boys who think they know how to run the world and are instead killing it (Fuck Boris) – if we’re lucky, a bit more slowly. Back home, Labour are going to try and buy our way out of our obligations.
I still can’t get over the final number Russel lays out here. I had the rest clear in my head, but hadn’t quite made that final link.
New Zealand aims to cut our real net emissions within our borders from 2005 to 2030 by 7%.
— David Tong (@Davidxvx) November 1, 2021
I look forward to the day when we actually start reducing gross emissions and stop dreaming about planting our way out of it or paying off others for our privilege to pollute.
— Rick Zwaan (@RAZwaan) November 1, 2021
In case it’s not obvious what the problem is here: the world (thanks overdeveloped nations) is so far behind on GHG reduction to avert the worst of climate change that we need to radically stop burning fossil fuels (and other GHGs releasing) in a very short space of time. If you’re not on board yet with this simple fact, please do some reading, it’s a mainstream understanding now, backed by science.
Paying people in other countries to not to chop trees down so that we can keep emitting GHGs is tap dancing on the head of a pin while rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and robbing Peter to pay Paul as if this will stop the ship from sinking (while the Musk rats abandon the sinking ship and head for Mars). Labour inches us forward at snail’s pace. Complex and complete fuckups require mangled metaphors, sorry.
Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn on why Labour are doing this.
And even then, they’re still planning on “meeting” more than two thirds of the target by buying credits from overseas (which, based on past experience, will turn out to be pure fraud). And the reason they’re doing that is a refusal to confront the dairy industry and force it to reduce its emissions like the rest of us.
And that’s Jacinda’s “nuclear-free moment”: spin and PR and funny accounting. Not the honest, ambitious government we hoped for and need. We deserve better than this. The planet deserves better than this. But we are clearly not going to get real climate action under this chickenshit government.
As an aside, to be clear, this isn’t Green Party policy, it’s pure Labour. James Shaw is Climate Minister, but sits outside of the majority governing Labour Cabinet who are the ones making the decisions (thanks left wing voters).
Matthew Whitehead nails the stupidity even from a neoliberal perspective,
saying you'll buy carbon credits to meet your reductions target is effectively saying you earning money is more important than salvaging an environment that makes earning money possible
— 🍫 Full-stomach chocolate explosion 🍫 (@MJWhitehead) November 1, 2021
If we pay someone overseas to not chop their trees down, this deprives that landbase from counting those carbon credits. The @RAZwaan tweet suggests that if you account all that globally it doesn’t even work (or hasn’t in the past). But even if that accounting did work, it’s still a nonsensical solution given the state of climate change.
What we actually need is two things:
Planting trees and maintaining climax forests is what we should be doing as a baseline for the health of all life. Our GHG reductions need to be on top of that. If we don’t use a healthy environment as a baseline, we can never catch up on both the climate and the ecology crises. Continuing to treat the environment as a big bag of resources that we can manage is a death warrant. We’re just not good at it, and it’s antithetical to life which isn’t a grab bag, but a whole planet of interconnected systems.
Who will have the guts and vision to transition us to real action? I’m way less interested in the COP neoliberal pin head dancing than I am in who is speaking truth to power and presenting ideas and experience that might change the above.
For those feeling hopeless and frustrated, that want to see what actually works, what we can do that is worthy and life affirming and effective, this five minute speech, at the opening of COP26, by Māori activist India Logan-Riley, is outstanding,
Particularly pertinent is the argument that indigenous activists have been saying for a while,
… this history shows us that hands and minds made this present world, and so it is also hands and hearts and minds that can remake it. And it is indigenous and frontline communities that are leading this remaking. We’re keeping fossil fuels in the ground and stopping fossil fuel expansion. We’re halting infrastructure that would increase emissions and saying no to false solutions.
In fact in the US and Canada alone, indigenous resistance has stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least one quarter of annual emissions.
What we do works.
In the face of mediocre leadership, indigenous peoples shine through. This is all to say that climate change is the outcome of the colonial project.
My bold. Logan-Riley ends with the fine sentiment “get in line or get out of the way”. The most appalling thing about our situation (apart from the whole death cult thing) is that we have many people working on the solutions that work, we’re just not giving them the power to use those on broad scales.
Part of what is important here is that Māori have lived experience of catastrophic environmental change forced upon them, and how to change that. This is a great gift to the west if we would recognise it.
They also have a world view that is the systems thinking absolutely necessary to get us out of this mess. Key to decolonisation is understanding that the western mind tends towards linear and reductionist thought process. Systems thinking is about the relationships between all the things. Carbon credit systems are complicated, but they’re still a linear, disconnected solution that ignores the whole system.
If someone planting a forest to draw down carbon then clearcuts that forest 30 years later for timber, and plants a new forest, and counts the carbon figures in all that, that’s a reductionist, disconnected model. It ignores the life in the forest that is essential for ecosystem stability, it ignores the people who live in the area who are dependent upon that stability as well as all the ecology outside the forest likewise dependent, it ignores the natural carbon cycle by stealing from the future, it’s ignores the massive benefits of climate forests for their own sake, and it ignores how all those things interrelate. We need to be reforesting because forests themselves give us life in multiple ways.
This doesn’t mean we can never fell trees for human use. It means that the starting points in how we design and approach landcare need to change radically. Post-carbon farming is going to be utterly dependent on nature for its ability to produce food for humans in a climate changed world, so if you’re still not getting it, think about how we are going to eat in future generations (or even our own) if we don’t have an environment to grow that food in.
There is something else here. The reason why so many humans traditionally relate to the land as a mother or similar is because when we are living in everyday, conscious understanding of that interdependency we naturally act to save it because it is also an act of self-preservation. Only crazy people believe that humans sit outside of the natural world. Many people also have a deep love of nature of its own sake, and understand that this is central to who we are as humans.
The biggest problem we have with COP is that it is based in a profound disconnect from nature. The humans that are deeply connected with nature are the ones bringing the sustainable, resilient and real options to the table.