COP27 Should Be the Last
The World Needs Action, Not Promises
The Sayings of Abu Francis
I say, those who can, do; those who can’t, go to meetings.
While the U.S. was focused on midterm elections, the rest of the world quietly attended the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP) convened by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Representing one of the planet’s biggest greenhouse-gas villains was none other than President Joe Biden, channeling 1984 Doublethink by boasting about how much the U.S. is doing to fight climate change.
“The United States government is putting our money where our mouth is,” Biden said with a straight face. “Good climate policy is good economic policy.”
Biden joins every American president in cheering the fight against climate change since the 1992 “Earth Summit” held in Rio de Janeiro. President George H.W. Bush signed the original Rio Declaration. President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol after COP3 in 1997 – but the U.S. never ratified Kyoto or took the kind of serious action needed 25 years ago to avert the present climate crisis.
Biden, in fact, was part of the bipartisan U.S. Senate effort to torpedo the Protocol. He and then-Senator (now Climate Envoy) John Kerry joined the unanimous vote to reject the treaty on grounds that climate policy was not good economic policy. Five senators abstained, but no one opposed the Byrd-Hagel Resolution.
Kyoto was essentially replaced by the Paris climate agreement in 2015. One big difference was Paris made voluntary what Kyoto had etched in stone. Although the U.S. initially signed on, President Trump opted out until Biden opted back in.
In or out, Democrat or Republican, the American people have a dismal record on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. No country emits more per capita, except Canada and the oil-producing Middle East. But the entire industrial world is either in slow motion or reverse, ramping up fossil fuel production, according to a recent study by the Europe-based Climate Action Tracker.
“With governments focusing on the energy crisis, this has been a year of little action on the climate: almost no updated national climate targets for 2030 and no significant increase in participation in Glasgow initiatives on coal phase out, clean cars and methane,” the report says.
In fact, Biden has been boasting about U.S. fuel production in the latest bipartisan effort to fund the war in Ukraine. “My administration has not stopped or slowed U.S. oil production; quite the opposite,” he told reporters last month. “We’re producing 12 million barrels of oil per day. We’re on track for record oil production in 2023.”
In the race to adapt to climate change, the governments of the world have barely laced their shoes. COP27 should be the last of these grandstanding summits.
Ten Personal Protocols
While world leaders debate the real definition of “net zero,” the people of the world can step up – not to fight climate change, but to adapt to its reality. In essence, we have five years to build sustainable communities.
Here are 10 things we can do – now!
1. Capture our own water. Winter is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere and that means precipitation. Whether you use buckets and trashcans or 2,500-gallon tanks, capture as much water as you can.
2. Build our own soil. Let falling leaves lie. Ask your neighbors for their bags of yard debris. Find wood chip piles or buy mulch. Building layers of soil instead of tilling helps sequester carbon dioxide in the soil.
3. Make our own fertilizer. Topsoil needs organic material for better plant growth. Compost kitchen scraps, garden clippings, leaves, manure and other organic castaways in barrels, buckets or piles. Gardens are always hungry for fertility.
4. Grow our own food. Kill your grass and weeds with sheet mulch (cardboard covered with wood chips) and plant food gardens. Plant food you actually eat, so you can eventually phase out buying it at the grocery store. Fruit and nut trees are great perennials for long-term eating. Stop eating corporate factory-farmed methane-producing meat immediately – find local protein sources.
5. Own our homes. If you have access to land, build an energy-efficient home or tiny house. If you have a mortgage, pay it off in the next five years (this may take borrowing from friends and family, but it’s better to pay them back than the banks). Pay down the mortgage by liquidating any Wall Street investments, including IRAs. If you rent, make sure your landlord is a friend or in small-scale business and will let you lease long term. If you’re in a tenant mill, sustainable housing might require a move or purchase.
6. Use our own energy. Minimize your use of electricity, which is most likely generated by burning fossil fuels (yes, that includes natural gas). Invest in a small-scale solar system to run lights, phones and computers, and to charge batteries. Phase out large refrigerators and freezers. Shift from air conditioning to fans.
7. Transport ourselves. Get to a place where you can meet most of your travel needs by walking or riding a bicycle. You might need a different job if you can’t telecommute. If you have a vehicle, find ways to use it less and less. Share rides and carpool whenever possible.
8. Keep money in our neighborhoods. Move out-of-town bank accounts to local credit unions. Buy locally made products whenever possible instead of importing stuff via Amazon. Discontinue business with corporate chains.
9. Join neighborhood trading/barter networks. Phase out your daily need for cash by trading with neighbors, bartering or joining a local alternative-currency network or mutual-aid group. Use social networking to give unneeded stuff to neighbors.
10. Migrate by design. If you don’t live in a sustainable place (i.e. your region needs to import water, food and energy from somewhere else), consider moving. You have five years to find a better place.
We have about five years for our Personal Transition Plans, to get our boats ready for the flood. I say, those who can, do; those who can’t, go to meetings!
What say you?