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  • Writer's picturejoheneker

COP reflections one week on

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

It’s been over a week since COP26 finished, and we wanted to take a moment to share our reflections on the conference and its outcomes. We’ve read some wonderful social media posts and blogs with thoughts and opinions on the success of the conference that were published very quickly after the event. We wanted to take a little more time to reflect and also speak to other people to see how they were feeling.

While we didn’t attend any of the conference in person, we were lucky enough to join several fantastic fringe events – thanks to the organisers of those sessions, they were thought-provoking and inciteful. One session in particular from Accenture has really made us think – it was about creating sustainable options for all, i.e. at the moment, some options are hard for many people to participate in, due to complexity or cost, for example. If you want to watch the session, here is the link

Overall, we have to say that we feel pretty positive about the whole thing and we will explain why below. We’ll start with the negatives, though, as they are incredibly important and shouldn’t be overlooked.

There were undoubtedly some major issues with the outcomes of the formal negotiations and Greta is certainly right about the rhetoric not matching commitments and actions. The outcome we are probably most disappointed about was the inability to come up with the funding to help poorer nations get climate-ready. This is fundamental, and sadly the lack of agreement is clear evidence that when it comes to global issues with no national boundaries, most politicians are still incapable of seeing the bigger picture.

And it’s also absolutely true that our politicians haven’t really done enough to get us to 1.5°c. The negotiations must have been incredibly tough, but again national interests seem to have come well above a collaborative global effort. On this one, however, while it’s really disappointing, we were expecting it, hoping our expectations might be exceeded, but not surprised that they weren’t.

Our final main point of frustration at sust. is that we also don’t really understand how the commitments that were made at COP will be tracked, measured and confirmed as genuinely delivered – it’s all good and well promising something, but we don’t believe that there’s the mechanism in place to check this.

However, for us, this is actually where the positives come in. Yes, most of our politicians haven’t done what they needed to do, but it’s looking like citizens and some businesses will take up this monitoring and delivery role themselves, to get us as close to 1.5°c as possible. And if a massive population is working on it and holding leaders to account, then governments will have to follow – they should lead, of course, but in their absence, others are grabbing the leadership role and it’s quite something to witness.

The power and influence of those young people, passionate and brave enough to stand up and share their views was inspiring to see and they are motivating many people (some previously apathetic to climate change) to start acting now. It shouldn’t be down to children to have all the answers, but they should certainly tell us their worries and we must work on innovative solutions to help take their worries away.

COP has also raised awareness of climate change and sustainability issues in a way that we have never witnessed before – certainly in the UK, at least. We need to keep up this momentum and interest so it’s not just a flash in the pan, but a long-term, significant cultural change. To do this, we think education is key. School curriculums need to change, but again that will take time, so in the meantime, visionary heads must take up the cause and incorporate the subject into the way they run their schools – and this is already happening in some forward-thinking schools.

The other thing we noticed relating to education was all the complex terminology our journalists and politicians were using when reporting back on COP progress in the media. We believe that even they didn’t always understand their own words, mixing carbon neutral and net-zero up on several occasions as a good example. This is why we also need information sharing for everyone, not just our children, so we really understand what the subject is about and our own personal impact on it. We need language simplification, so the subject is accessible and clearly understood by all. If we were betting people, which we’re not, we reckon even some people who work in sustainability don’t always completely understand some of the phrases they use – or at the very least, their definition is different to the person they’re sitting next to.

Of course, there’s a group that wants to use complicated terms to avoid true commitment, but we want to simplify it as much as possible, so everyone can understand it and therefore feel empowered to participate in the change. So with this in mind, we’ve been asking our friends and followers about the terms they might not understand and then tried to explain them as simply as possible – check out our Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds and you’ll find them there. And if there are any terms you don’t understand, please don’t be shy – let us know and we will do our best to simplify them as much as possible.

In summary, we think that while COP hasn’t delivered many of the commitments we really needed, the increased activity of citizens who understand that immediate action is required, will create some massive and positive societal shifts. Collectively, all the changes we make, no matter how big or small, will add up to significant progress. We all have a role to play and it’s exciting to see what we can do as a huge group of citizens of Earth.

Do you run your own business and want to be part of the solution? Not sure where to start, or what the right angle is for you? We can help you to identify the right focus for your business and we can also build and deliver a sustainability action plan for you. Please get in touch for a no-obligation chat if you’d like to know more.

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