COP26: the countdown is on

Week two of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow is underway and declarations of intent by political leaders need to take concrete form if they are to have an impact. On Saturday around a hundred thousand people took to the streets in a show of frustration at the lack of results so far. The press also remains sceptical.

Open/close all quotes
Cumhuriyet (TR) /

At least the economists are on board now

Cumhuriyet sees few signs of real change:

“Hardly anyone believes that the Cop26 climate summit will have any practical consequences. ... Even the Queen has said she is 'irritated' by those who 'talk but don't do'. Political opportunism is of course a factor, but the real problem is structural, because real action on the climate crisis clashes with the contradictions of civilisation. But at least Cop26 has helped to get 'economists' to factor ecology into their calculations.”

Delo (SI) /

Poorly run propaganda campaign

Delo laments:

“The solution to the climate crisis is being 'managed' by the very people who are most responsible for accelerating the tragically irreversible warming of the planet. By those who are most out of touch with the reality and the problems of the people living in the areas worst impacted by climate change. The participants in Glasgow - and elsewhere for that matter - are fighting internal political battles. Or not even that. They are taking part in a poorly run propaganda campaign for the public, who in many parts of the world, as far as the environment is concerned, are a lot more enlightened than their political 'elites'.”

Jornal i (PT) /

Climate protection incompatible with rabid consumerism

The demands in Glasgow stand in glaring contrast to our consumer societies, Jornal i observes:

“How will we in the richer nations accept that we have to reduce the status quo, comfort levels and our consumer lifestyles? How will we correct the way we treat the environment without punishing the poor, without increasing social injustice? While Glasgow is coming to a head, adverts for Black Friday are running on TV and supermarkets are in Christmas fever. The economy 'must' grow.”

Diena (LV) /

Geopolitics stands in the way

As Diena sees it, an agreement on shared standards and measures is impossible to achieve:

“The countries whose principles will guide the fight against climate change can expect significant economic benefits and geopolitical leadership. This is why it is unrealistic to think they will all pool their resources and forge a joint plan. We saw this in action with the refusal of Russian and Chinese heads of state to attend the G20 summit, which was also about climate issues. ... To a certain extent it is a repeat of the situation with the Covid-19 vaccines, when geopolitical struggles took priority over working together. But climate change is not going to wait any more than the pandemic did for world leaders to settle their differences.”

Pravda (SK) /

Lobbies blocking climate protection

A major obstacle, Pravda notes, is that energy companies have sewn seeds of distrust in science:

“They have successfully emulated the tactics of the tobacco industry. The first studies by British physicians about the links between smoking and lung cancer were published at the turn of the 1940s and 50s. The tobacco industry reacted immediately: casting doubt on the research, calling for more evidence, financing their own studies - sometimes in very different fields - all in a bid to deflect attention from the real issue. An internal memo from the tobacco industry from 1969 sums up their tactics perfectly: Our aim is to sow the seeds of doubt.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Polluters must pay

As long as the costs keep being passed on to public, real change will never happen, Die Presse states unequivocally:

“When it comes to repairing environmental damage, the general public is often called to action. Economists call this the socialisation of consequential costs. ... While the polluters sit back, leaders moan at conferences about needing additional billions to stop the misery. This whole approach is wrong. It's not about asking nicely or begging so that we can carry on as before, just maybe not quite so harmfully. We have to change the rules of the game. And the first and most important rule is: true-cost pricing! This only happens when polluters are made to pay for the consequences of their technology - whether it's cars, plastics or coal-fired power plants.”

Jurnalul National (RO) /

Who can afford all this?

Governments must take account of the fact that many people can't afford climate protection measures, warns Jurnalul National:

“The yellow vest revolt that plunged France into chaos was triggered by the introduction of an eco-tax on fuel. If we look at the situation in Romania, we see that the green transition in the energy sector has caused a social tragedy in Valea Jiului, where mining has been suspended. ... Then there is the gloomy prospect of having to change the entire vehicle fleet, which consists mostly of used cars from Western Europe that must be taken out of circulation as soon as possible according to environmental standards. Who will finance the conversion to e-mobility in an economy where even the approval of a heating allowance leads to a political crisis?”

Mediapart (FR) /

Hold summits but make sure they're democratic

Binding decisions could be made if international summits were more equitable, communications expert Albin Wagener notes in his blog with Mediapart:

“The most zealous torturers [of the environment] make speeches as if words alone were enough to solve all the problems, while activists and the countries most affected by climate change are treated as dogsbodies and supporting actors. This is cynical and scandalous, because if such summits were organised in a democratic way it would facilitate open and balanced democratic votes on adopting, maintaining and defending resolutions that would hold all countries of the world permanently accountable.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Activists forcing us to change

The commitment of the young is crucial, says La Repubblica:

“That Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson quoted Greta Thunberg's critique 'blah, blah, blah' at the COP26 opening was certainly coquetry, paternalistic flattery, and opportunistic palliness, but also an obligatory acknowledgement. Greta's activism has been viewed in Italy through the lens of two different stereotypes, first as a childlike and mythical ecology, as a claim to a naturalistic innocence; and second as a catastrophic and nihilistic, anti-modern and anti-industrial ideology. However, an analysis from the perspective of political science would show that the mobilisation through Fridays for Future is an important factor in the innovation of public action and some categories of politics.”

Eco - Economia Online (PT) /

The markets and technology will sort it out

Only the free market economy and the innovation it brings can bring a turnaround, says Eco:

“Politicians do what gets them the most votes. They respond to incentives. Contrary to the narrative that seems to dominate the media, it is not a return to the past that will resolve our problems. The radical environmentalists want to use the urgent debates on climate change to end the market economy. But only the market economy can help to achieve the Paris targets with technology and innovations. The market promotes efficiency, and efficiency translates into producing more with less and wasting a lot less.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Competition will generate green dynamic

As soon as environmentally friendly solutions start to give companies an edge on the market competition will take care of the rest, Rzeczpospolita predicts:

“The economy and the environment will be saved by what the economy does best: competition. If competition forces companies and consumers to take measures to protect the environment and develop products that are environmentally friendly, the business principle of 'first mover advantage' will come into play: if we don't seek out and introduce environmentally friendly products, our competitors will overtake us and drive us out of the market.”