Reflections on COP28

This week’s COP28 takes me back to COP15 in 2009 in what was dubbed “Hopenhagen”.

That summer I had completed the second leg of my Pacific voyage, from Hawaii to the Republic of Kiribati, a nation of small islands straddling both the Equator and the International Date Line. I had met the president of Kiribati, President Anote Tong (pictured below), who had told of me of his fears for the future of his country. With only one single point more than 6 feet above sea level, he and his people expected to lose their land to the rising oceans as the ice caps melt.

I saw him again that December in Copenhagen, on the last night of COP15. We’d had such hopes for that conference. Activism was at an all-time high, and with Obama recently elected, we’d felt that anything was possible… yet it had ended in failure.

President Tong and his delegation were trying to put a brave face on it, but their grief was palpable.

(My original COP15 blog posts are on my website.)

Since then we’ve had the breakthrough moment of COP21 in Paris (led by one of my heroes, Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica), but global carbon emissions are still rising. And as usual, the people who will suffer the worst consequences are the ones who did least to cause the problem.

We need to do better. Much better.

Yesterday I was at a “Meet the Candidate” event in the South Cotswolds. Somebody asked me if it isn’t already too late to limit climate change to less-than-disastrous levels.

It may be. But our actions now still make a difference. There is a world of difference between 1.5 degrees of warming, and 2 or 4 or 6 degrees.

One lasting legacy I took away from Copenhagen was the importance of hope. Without hope there is no action. Without action there is no change. And without change there is no future.

The governments of the world – especially in the Global North – need to decide what kind of world they want to leave for future generations. And chart their course accordingly – starting now. We can’t afford to kick the climate can down the road for a moment longer.

Quote of the Week

“The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth.”
— King Charles at COP28

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *