A world leaders gush over themselves with congratulatory accolades over the ‘world changing agreement’ on climate change, some universal truths. The problem with climate change conferences is that they are all about and only about……..climate change. If that sounds puzzling, our climate is just one factor in a host of interrelating factors that make up our environment. And the environment is just one pillar of the three interlocking pillars of economy, society and environment. Everything is linked, what you do in one will affect all three, and you cannot solve issues in one without addressing all three together. Welcome to the world of sustainability.
So whilst the conference focussed almost entirely on cutting carbon emissions, little discussion or mention has been given to a host of issues in this triangle, some of which dwarf all others not only in producing greenhouse gases but affecting our entire environment – e.g. economic growth, the numbers on our planet, our consumption of animal products and a host more ‘inconvenient truths’.
Thus apart from the good announcement by Bill Gates, other wealthy investors and a number of governments on the doubling of green technology research & development, if COP21 really wanted to help planet Earth it would have been discussing a zero or low growth economic model, limiting consumption, rapid resource depletion, limiting the culture of debt, family planning aid alongside overseas aid, revising the entire world of overseas aid. the empowerment of women, education, agricultural research, ending various agricultural subsidies, food consumption education and a lot more instead of just carbon taxes – the cost of which is estimated as hundreds of billions of dollars per year and incurs many doubts as to its effectiveness regardless.
But they didn’t and won’t. Because many of the above are either too difficult to comprehend, too toxic to address, or because the whole world is utterly dependent on growth to pay back the astonishing debt it has incurred over the past 30 years and continues to deny - from nations, cities, communities, households and individuals living beyond their means.
People, Planet and Profit – address them together, not separately.