Talking About Climate Change

Nearly 27,000 delegates attended the COP25 Climate Change Conference in Madrid in December 2019. 27,000! Does it really take that many people to talk about global warming? Apparently 200 countries sent representatives to the conference, so that is an average of 135 per country.

Now how do you get 27,000 people from all around the world into one place at once? By aeroplane, in most cases. That would be roughly 145 extra flights there and back, each one churning out copious quantities of carbon dioxide into the upper atmosphere. How much carbon dioxide? Somewhere in the region of 9400 tonnes according to my calculations. Oh the hypocrisy! How much talking did the delegates have to do to offset all that carbon?

Of course the saintly Greta travelled by sailing boat (not that a sailing boat is likely to get her all the way to Madrid) which saved on fuel for the journey. But what is the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process of a large ocean-going yacht? All that glassfibre, carbon fibre, aluminium and stainless steel gobbles up a lot of fossil fuel in the processing.

Perhaps all those people and flights would have been a cost worth bearing if the result was a meaningful reduction in emissions. But UN secretary general António Guterres said he was “disappointed” with the results and “the international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.” 

Sadly, the sorry saga doesn't end there. The conference was called COP25 because that was the 25th conference of its type to be held. Yes, they've done it 24 times before, and in 2020 they will all be convening again in Glasgow.

It's all so reminiscent of the climate protest in London, attended by Emma Thompson, who flew all the way from Los Angeles to be there. Climate people don't do irony, it seems.

18 Dec 2019