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Was that it?

05 Oct 2022 | OP ED Watch

Three weeks ago Canary Media gushed at us in an email “Are you ready for Climate Week NYC?” Or we suppose they gushed at New York. And supposedly the theme was “Climate Week NYC 2022: Getting it done”. And why not? If words are deeds and wishes are horses, why should meetings not be achievements? In that spirit we note that the IPCC just concluded its 26th Conference of the Parties amid… recriminations.

The time for talk is over. We must act… by talking. Thus:

“The science is clear: We need to halve emissions by 2030, so Getting It Done is a call to action. Commitments are critical, but at the heart of everything happening at this year’s Climate Week NYC will be the central question of how to turn those commitments into tangible action. Also underpinning the theme is the question of how. How are we Getting It Done? Who is stopping us? And for whom are we doing it? These are the three key sub-themes we’ve built this year’s programming around, which we see as the critical issues in climate action today.”

Who is stopping us? Who indeed? Who are these fiends?

Well, according to an unhinged email funding pitch from the Guardian’s George Monbiot entitled “None of our dreams can survive the loss of a planet,” and “Earth is under threat, yet you would scarcely know it” in the online version, even though “there is scarcely an Earth system that is not now threatened with collapse” and “climate breakdown is gathering at shocking, unanticipated speed, with disasters occurring at 1.2°C of heating that scientists did not expect until we hit 2 or 3°” you never hear of it from the press, other than the brave Guardian, because “Most of the media, most of the time, either ignores our environmental crisis, downplays it or denies it. The reason is not difficult to discern. Most of the media is owned by corporations or billionaires, who have a major financial interest in sustaining business as usual.”

So there you have it. Evil capitalist plot. That Monopoly guy in the hat or the running dogs of the comprador bourgeoisie or some White Guard insects. As you suspected. Which is why nobody’s holding conferences or making pledges, other than all the world’s governments and all the major corporations, and no one’s covering it except the New York Times, the CBC, The Economist and most of the world’s media.

Oh, and everybody who’s cool is also in on it. Thus a separate press release brought us to our lotus position with the news that “The Tzu Chi Center, part of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, is hosting the first ever Holistic Climate Solutions Summit during Climate Week NYC.” Complete with “intentional meals”, “respect for all sentient beings and our planet” and all that Om.

Still, we must inject a sour note of skepticism by quoting Wikipedia that:

“Climate Week NYC is an event that has taken place every year in New York City since 2009. The summit takes place alongside the UN General Assembly and brings together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase global climate action. Climate Week NYC is run by The Climate Group. Climate Week NYC is the largest of a number of Climate Week events that take place around the world throughout the year including Africa, Latin America & Caribbean, Asia Pacific and Middle East Climate Week Events.”

So you’ve had literally hundreds of meetings, including dozens in New York City alone, and what have you got to show for it? A commitment to out-gabbing the UN itself?

As for the deadline, there’s a sort of backpedalling going on here, with “We have a clear deadline in sight: 2030. This is the year by which we need to halve emissions to have a chance of delivering net-zero emissions by the middle of the century in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of warming.” And if they believed a word they were saying they’d fold their tents and go home. (Which maybe they did for all the impact this thing had.) Because we are not, repeat not, going to halve emissions in what is now seven years and three months. Nobody is. Not you, not us and not that China over there. But in any case how much of a chance? To within, say, 25%? And what are the “most catastrophic effects of warming” that we might avoid and what are just the really bad ones coming at us like a runaway freight train?

The call to pseudo-action goes on:

“This year at Climate Week, our events will ask leaders from governments, businesses, NGOs, U.N. bodies and civil society how they will lead in these times of crisis. How can we keep up the level of urgency and ensure that climate does not slip down the agenda?”

Goodness gracious, with the most catastrophic effects in balance and the just sort of catastrophic unavoidable, how could it possibly slip down the agenda? Aren’t the public aware that their hair is on fire? But if you don’t know how they’re going to lead in just, um, totally changing our entire massive economy in under a decade, and they don’t, it’s far too late.

Sorry, did we say totally changing the economy? What a petty ambition. They insist that “We need to put people at the heart of our climate transition. Policies must promote prosperity for all people, and business strategies must support all of society. The rewards of investing in people, equity and justice are clear.” Just that?

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