Imagine if we knew that sometime in 2047 we would definitively move on from the industrial revolution
The important thing about any agenda isn’t so much what’s on it, but what is missing. And so it is with the 21st UN climate change conference (Cop26), in Glasgow. There are some crucial issues up for discussion and negotiation: the $100bn finance promise, the 1.5C target and how to raise global mitigation ambition to meet it. But I have a proposal for something that is still firmly off the agenda, even though it would arguably do more than anything else to address the climate emergency.
The problem with Cops – and I’ve been to a few – is that activity tends to substitute for action. The atmosphere is frenetic: people rush to and fro, from meeting to meeting, negotiation to negotiation, clutching bundles of paper, phones, laptops, and (if they are lucky) a hastily grabbed, limp sandwich. Some negotiators trundle everywhere with wheeled suitcases, stuffed with printed materials from every previous Cop – so they never have to miss an opportunity to refer directly to the Bali declaration or the Berlin mandate.
Mark Lynas is a freelance writer working full-time on climate change