Another COP (Conference of the Parties) is beginning, and once again, the world prepares to face two weeks of the usual parade of appalling data, international pressure and silver bullets. In short, two weeks of planetary insomnia, whose epicentre is Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, Africa.
After 30 years of COPs listening to dramatic speeches referring to “last chance”, “unprecedented challenge”, “red code of humanity”, “savage carnage”, and “collective suicide”, one wonders if the political representatives of those countries are the best equipped to reach the necessary agreements to reduce the effects of the climate collapse.
Once again, social movements and citizens will be marginalised from the decision room while the interests of large corporations will be protected by advisers and politicians involved in their business.
This power asymmetry between those making decisions and those most impacted by the crisis is also expressed by the divide between those who benefit from maintaining the current status quo and those who die daily in the so-called “frontline of the environmental crisis”.
Let’s take a look at this frontline:
Last month’s flooding in Pakistan left more than 20 million people needing urgent humanitarian aid to survive. Africa, the continent that organises this COP, is going through the worst drought in 40 years, which has left 146 million people facing extreme hunger. China, whose prime minister will not even attend the COP, is facing the worst heatwave in its history. Record temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius are hitting the European Summer while the US suffers from a mega drought that has been classified as the worst in 1,200 years.
Against this background, we must consider the global effects of the war in Ukraine: the increase in oil prices, food transport, and energy and, consequently, the configuration of a planetary crisis associated with the rising cost of living.
Well, but who benefits from the state of the planet?
While this happens in 2022, the five largest oil and gas companies have had profits of over 148bn this year alone, making this chaotic year the best in their history.
Amid the crisis, and as an act of infinite irony, powerful international investment funds see these polluting companies as an attractive and safe investment opportunity, even though more investment in oil means a worsening of the already catastrophic situation and, obviously, less investment in renewable energies.
Whether this COP is successful or not, none of us will come out of this alive…
Photo: The Independent, Uganda