COP26 is in full swing, and I manage to follow it from my desk at home, thanks to digital technology. This is one positive thing we learned from COVID-19: we don’t need to fly around the world anymore. That is…provided there is good internet connection, which is not always the case in all countries.
And that is just one example of the many inequalities in the world: inequalities that become painfully visible at climate COPs, and this COP is no exception. Internet, vaccines, water, food, energy, money – all is so unevenly distributed. People are dying and being displaced because of climate change, caused by some but suffered by so many others. Are we, Westerners, really aware of it, or are we so brainwashed by consumerism that we push it away?
The speech given on Monday by the brave young climate activist from Kenya, Elizabeth Wathuti, has stuck in my mind and heart. She saw three children weeping, sitting at a dried-out river after walking over 12 miles to find water. Without water they will die, like so many others. “Open your hearts,” she urged delegates. Yesterday, my colleague Peter Pavlovic said the same in his blog. Have we, spoiled Westerners, forgotten how to do that?
Another appeal to our hearts was done by Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado Quesada on Monday evening: “Let’s put aside any military or commercial antagonism. Does it make any sense in a world that’s dying, to wage war, militarily or commercially? War, for what? For a dying planet?”
I would like to add: what if we would allocate all those weaponry trillions of dollars…to firm and fair climate policies? What if we would allocate all those trillions that are still pumped into the fossil fuel industry in the form of subsidies… to firm and fair climate policies? How come the developed world suddenly found hundreds of billions of dollars for COVID-19 vaccines and support measures, but seems to be unable to deliver a mere 100 billion together…for much-needed climate support of developing countries? Not to mention their right to compensation for loss and damage?
Our hearts are clogged, that’s why. We are still unable to see each other as brothers and sisters, sharing one planet. But we have to learn it, and fast. Let’s get inspired from each other’s cultures, stop condescension, antagonism and military threat, and start embracing each other and working together, sharing wisdom, knowledge, technology, money, goods and more. For real. For God’s sake.