Home   News   Article

Charles Bannerman: What must happen to help combat climate change?

By Charles Bannerman

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
COP 27 - Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, 7-18 November 2022 - International climate summit vector illustration
COP 27 - Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, 7-18 November 2022 - International climate summit vector illustration

Now that 35,000 COP27 delegates, including 600 representing fossil fuel interests, are preparing to jet back home, it’s reality check time.

The distinct lack of interest in the conference by some of the world’s worst polluters – notably India and China, the two most populous and among the fastest developing nations on Earth – doesn’t augur well. So, laudable though these efforts certainly are, I really fear that not enough of the world’s population is sufficiently committed to reducing emissions for this to make much difference.

And there’s the rub. Emissions are a global problem, but attempts to address them operate nationally, and I’m not confident that the nations making genuine efforts control enough global emissions to make the plan work. This reduces these well-intentioned measures to sneezing into the wind.

We in the UK only influence around one per cent of total emissions, so even life-changing efforts to reduce them barely matter if others contributing much more won’t play ball. And no. This isn’t a simple cop-out (no pun intended). It’s grim realism and global attempts to cut emissions are fatally challenged as a result. Many also ask why any country should hamstring itself and its economy while its competitors take advantage by carrying on almost regardless?

In any case, the root cause isn’t really emissions, it’s the number of people causing them. We hear plenty about reducing personal carbon footprints, but seldom anything about the number of contributors to the global figure. World population, now eight billion, has more than doubled in the last 50 years alone and is still rising. There are therefore 4.2 billion more human gas emitters now than as recently as 1972. Trying to reduce emissions in the face of rampant population increase constantly boosting the total therefore looks like a hopeless task. The difference made by lifestyle change by those buying into this is more than being cancelled out by soaring population.

Motivation to try might improve if the climate scientists would give us a straightforward and easily understood explanation of what’s happening. I don’t mean rocket science, just clarification of how a rise in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere from three to four molecules in every 10,000 is making all this sudden difference, especially since this is hugely less than the amount of water that has always been in the air and is also a good absorber and emitter of infra-red radiation. Oh, and not constantly antagonising people with persistent virtue signalling, especially by self-serving businesses and some media, might also assist.

Sorry to appear pessimistic, but I don’t really think that efforts to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide are going to work. One major reason is lack of global will, be that to reduce population or modify lifestyle. Whatever the potential effects may be, I see them as all but inevitable, but they will accumulate gradually.

Media messaging tends to create alarm by not challenging the misapprehension that changes will be sudden and apocalyptic, but they won’t. Whatever materialises will be very slow and the end product, possibly even across centuries, will be the human population correction, albeit by harsh means, that our seriously overburdened planet happens to need.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More