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COP26: The Green Arch of Optimism or False Hope?

COP26: The Green Arch of Optimism or False Hope?

David Attenborough's impassioned speech urged our world leaders and delegates at COP26 to be motivated to solve the climate crisis, not by fear, but hope. 

The 'desperate' hope that Attenborough talks about is really important. After all, despite the damage that's already being caused to our planet, we can still limit any future damage.

 But, for all of Attenborough's optimism, is it realistic? 

Hold on, what's COP26? Read our guide.

Of course, we have to realise that Attenborough is hardly going to make a doom and gloom speech to world leaders, telling them there's nothing we can do. In fact, like he says, it is possible for our generation to step up and deal with this emergency.

Outside 10 Downing Street, a green LED lit arch says something about the amount of posturing that goes on in politics. But is there anything substantial behind the green facade?

What's the green arch all about?

A statement from the National Grid reads: "The installation, made from energy efficient LED lights and sustainable materials, is based on National Grid’s Green Light Signal - a low-energy light bulb designed to glow green when electricity supply is cleanest."

The idea behind Green Light Signal is a new app that tells you when you are using the cleanest, greenest electricity. Again the emphasis is being put on us, the consumer, the individual, to take responsibility. 

Boris stood outside Number 10 in front of green arch

By using household items such as the tumble dryer, or washing machine at 'greener' times it can greatly reduce carbon emissions. If one million people use this new scheme, over a year it could save as much as 164,250 tonnes of carbon (the same as taking 78,214 cars off the road) just by powering a tumble dryer at a more efficient time. 

It is great to see more solutions to help households and businesses monitor their energy use. But it raises a lot of questions. How much are my neighbours going to hate me when I run my washing machine at full spin at 3am? What if we have no choice but to use our electricals during peak times? 

So while once again the fingers are pointed at individuals, what are our governments doing at that big meeting up in Glasgow? 

Let's start with what's been going on at COP26 so far.

COP26 so far: What has been agreed?

At time of writing, deforestation is the biggest issue that is being dealt with so far. A hundred countries, representing 85% of the world's forests (including President Bolsanaro's Brazil), have pledged to halt logging practices, putting £14bn worth of investment into the project. 

Methane is also a biggie. The US and EU have come up with a plan to cut down on methane coming from fossil fuel extraction and livestock farming. 

Even the world of finance is starting to wake up to the reality that climate change is incredibly costly. Just one example of this is the billion euro programme by the EU, Bill Gates and the European Investment Bank that will fund 'new technologies' to help prevent and manage the effects of the climate crisis.

Imagining the Future: 2040, 2050

So what does the world look like if we (and our governments and big companies) actually take action? We've picked out a couple of examples where art takes the lead to imagine what the future may bring.

2040 movie poster

2040 is a film directed by Damon Gameau which blends together documentary footage with dramatised sequences exploring what life could be like on our planet if we did take up solutions to solve the climate crisis.

Film critic Nell Minow gave this review of the film: "2040 points a practical, achievable path toward solutions, but its most important contribution is a sense that change is possible."

How about in another 10 years time? In this article in the Big Issue, they imagine the best and worst-case scenario. It's a great read that tries to find humour to balance out the stark danger of the climate emergency. 

We loved this section, which we are already helping to bring about by curating our fantastic range of preloved fashion

"You don’t own as many clothes as you used to. Vintage, second hand and independent retailers dominate the market, and huge discounts on new clothes are available for taking unwanted garments back to clothing stores, who either sell them on or upcycle them into new life." - The Big Issue 

And the worst-case scenario? It's grim:

"Every day another disaster, every day people forced from their homes by fires, floods and hurricanes."

Bottom Line: There's always another target to fight for

We can't kid ourselves. The climate crisis is a serious problem that won't go away. It is hard not to feel the fear that Attenborough talks about. It is harder still to truly believe there is 'hope' that our generation can quickly turn things around.

I think the idea of this 'desperate hope' is the Pandora's Box kind of hope - that even despite all the damages we've caused the planet and even if it gets worse, there is a sliver of hope that remains. 

Let's close on a bit of wisdom from Greta. Again, whether you're a climate activist or a bit of a sceptic, set it aside and listen to this practical analogy.

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