Thursday 4 November 2021

Is Cop 26 a Cop Out?

 Cop 26 –
A Cop Out or Copping On?

verb To wise up; to employ common sense or logic; to understand the situation.

Plane Photo by Pixabay at Pexels

I don’t know about you but I feel a little sad that humans come together to find ways to heal the planet, whilst at the same time using the very thing (plane fuel) that will damage the climate. An example is the modes of transport used by world leaders and their counterparts to attend Cop 26 – the climate change summit held in Glasgow this year.

Air fuel emits greenhouse gases high up in the atmosphere where it often stays. If private jets are used, the carbon footprint is much higher (per passenger) than commercial flights. If they do use commercial flights, business and 1st class seats emit more greenhouse gas per passenger due to the larger seating area they take up onboard.

So, how much do we think will change, how quickly can it happen and can they reclaim back the carbon they used whilst travelling to the summit in the first place? 

Probably some things WILL change BUT probably much too slowly to make a difference. They are already in debt with the planet so using up even more carbon emitting fuel, to congregate together to talk about how we can STOP damaging the environment, seems really strange to me.

I’m as much to blame as anyone, I drive around in a car and have taken flights myself – I don’t think any of us claim to be angels, but I do wonder whether there were better ways to make a difference and make agreements but in a much greener way?

Earth on Phone Pic by Daniel Frank on Pexels

Some statistics!

Policy actions and the efforts of industry have led to improvements in fuel efficiency over recent years. For instance, the amount of fuel burned per passenger dropped by 24% between 2005 and 2017. 

However, these environmental benefits have been outpaced by a sustained growth in air traffic, with passengers in 2017 flying on average 60% further than in 2005.

The aviation sector creates 13.9% of the emissions from transport, making it the second biggest source of transport GHG emissions after road transport.

✈ If global aviation were a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters.

✈ Someone flying from Lisbon to New York and back generates roughly the same level of emissions as the average person in the EU does by heating their home for a whole year.

An article from the BBC stated that non-CO2 emissions such as nitrogen oxides also cause detrimental affect - they persist for longer at high altitudes and cause a warming effect to the planet.

For example a plane from Madrid to London emits 118kg of CO2 per passenger, however if non CO2 emissions (secondary conditions caused by nitrogen oxide) is then included this totals 265kg per person, in comparison to just 43kg per passenger if the journey was undertaken by train.

Hope Peace Love Care Live Pic by Disha Sheta on Pexels

A Little Personal Viewing

One good thing so far about the climate debate is the increase of programmes on TV to help us learn more about our contribution to environmental decay. I realise that I am spouting about damage to the environment whilst typing in my computer and talking about television both of which uses electricity. 

Our electricity supplier is 100% green energy (so they say) but the TV and laptop themselves used up resources in their production; in fact all of us are taking from Mother Earth every day by eating, drinking, breathing and washing our clothes.

But I have found the TV programmes to be very eye opening and they triggered my desire to make some changes of my own and hence create this blog.

Recent programmes have included ‘Celebrity Trash Monsters’, where celebrities carried around their plastic waste around their waist for two weeks, including waste created by their families. Was quite a shock for anyone who regularly eat take-away to see just how much waste is generated by one family alone.

Another thought provoking programme was ‘Joe Lycett v The Oil Giant’, which had quite revealing information on Green Washing tactics used by oil and energy companies, who are huge polluters themselves.

‘How We Forgot to Save the Planet’ is another show that I intend to watch soon.

More on these programmes available on channel 4 catch up can be found at:  

Kudos goes to BBC for the coverage of the 'Earthshot Prize - Cleaning the Planet', with Prince William & Sir David Attenborough. 

Episodes covering Cleaning the Air, Protecting Nature, Preventing Waste & Reviving the Ocean are available on BBC iplayer at:

Be Kind to the Planet Pic by Olya Kubruseva on Pexels

It's a Wrap!

It’s encouraging to see that the UK government is introducing more bans on plastic items – following on from the ban on plastic cotton buds and straws, in unison with WRAP they are now focussing on throw away plates, single use cutlery and polystyrene cups.

The plastic tax is also set to come into effect April 2022, where a product has less than 30% recycled content.

More on government approaches to plastic waste can be found at:

Tree planting and sea-grass planting schemes have also been encouraged. Recently, a ‘Green Recovery Challenge Fund’ created by DEFRA, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency have granted £80m (£40m per funding round) to help kick start environmental projects.

Some of the projects supported include wildlife trusts, community forestry areas and Chester Zoo; to help create a wild nature corridor to restore wetlands and wildflower meadows.

The fund also supports delivery of the 'Ancient Woodlands and Trees' programme. This £4.6 million, 15 month programme of activity will make a difference to the condition of ancient woodlands. The Woodland Trust and the National Trust are working in partnership to deliver the programme.

The government say:
‘The fund is supporting a range of nature conservation and recovery and nature-based solutions projects, which will contribute towards the Government’s wider '25 Year Environment Plan' commitments, including commitments to treble tree-planting rates in England by the end of this Parliament and restoring 35,000 hectares of peat.’

So we’re going in the right direction but I do wonder if 25 years is quick enough considering the alarming rate of knots that we are adding to carbon emissions in our every day lives. Trees take decades to mature, so as speakers are saying at the climate support conference, now is the time for action rather than words.

As 15 year old Earthsot Prize Finalist Vinisha Umashankar points out:

‘Today I ask, with all due respect, that we stop talking and start doing".

Hands in Heart Formation by Hassan OUAJBIR from Pexels

Let’s hope we haven’t left it too late!