“The COP has failed”

November 11, 2021

Will Greta Thunberg’s speech, marked by the above statement, be the main point we will take away from this COP? It would be harsh for all other speakers to say so.

This time private sector called for action (or at least commitment) and this might be one of the most significant highlights of this first week, compared to previous conferences.

There are certainly shades that are debatable, but the actions of some major players can be highlighted. One example is Nespresso, which is committed to becoming carbon neutral by the end of 2022. It remains to be seen whether this objective will be met, but it answers to the call for more short-term targets. Nevertheless, there are currently only 5% of companies that are in line with their carbon targets.

On countries’ side, it would have been difficult to expect China or India to set any carbon neutrality targets not so long ago. On the other hand, Australia, clearly stated that they would continue producing coal for decades, with the excuse that their coal will be of better quality and that if they do not do it, someone else will.

The last days of the first week were about “Youth and public empowerment”, “Nature and land use”, and “Adaptation, loss and damage”. These themes do not attract media attention as much as Finance or Energy. However, they are part - just like the others - of a holistic and worldwide transition. Ministers of Education committed – among others - to integrate sustainability and climate change in formal educations, and that young generations must be included as a proper stakeholder to respond to all needs across communities.

But to agree with the young (and less young) people calling for concrete actions, apart from new statements, few clear signals have been sent during these days. And this will have to change unless world leaders want to provide fuel to demonstrators.

Let’s talk about real money

The second week will see ministers from many countries take the stage to reach consensus and put money on the table with (hopefully) clear and material measures.

So far, already many commitments have been made to allocate funds for agriculture and land use, for instance. Most vulnerable countries are however still waiting for the funds promised by the “developed” countries. “Money is here”, stated Mark Carney. It is time to use it!

The world's leading decision-makers still have a few days to beat the odds and silence their critics. Let's hope they have the guts. Otherwise, Greta’s speech, as well as the accusations made by the demonstrators, will resonate again.

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