It’s Not Their Carbon, it’s OursManley Hopkinson
As COP26 fast approaches so to does the intensity of the rhetoric of blame, shame and claim. But, most of what I see, hear and read in the media does not seem to be quite right to me. There is a missing element that I believe is crucial as we strive to find a global commitment to what is a global problem.
We can sit pretty here in the UK as our leaders pledge to commit to Zero carbon by “2000 and whatever”. We point our fingers across the oceans, to the Far East in particular, and make “tut tut” noises as they build more coal fired power stations, release the vast majority of the global man-made carbon and churn out endless streams of waste and pollution
I can feel righteous with my bamboo toothbrush, my eco detergents, my 2nd hand BMW i3 electric car and a 40 year old Landrover (that I can argue is definitely in the “re-use” camp). My hemp & organic-cotton shirts and bamboo underpants all feel extra comfortable with the added softness of righteousness.
“It’s a disgrace” I remonstrate to whomever will listen, “and they cannot even be bothered to turn up to COP”! Brazil strips the Amazon close to tipping point in its drive to plant more soya. Chinese President Xi Jinping seems hell bent on accelerated growth at all costs whilst emitting 26% of global greenhouse gases. The oil producing cartels seem only to be focused on protecting production and India is churning out endless streams of products and services with scant regard for our suffering planet.
Shame on them!
But hang on a second. The finger-pointing is fundamentally flawed.
Who are they making all this stuff for?
You and me.
For the developed countries of the West to make grandiose statements making claim to beating the world to carbon zero, while trying to blame and shame the East and the developing world, is a sickly mix of arrogance, ignorance and hypocrisy.
We exported our manufacturing in a head long drive to cut our costs and without a thought to the welfare of the workers in the global manufacturing hubs and with no consideration that our endless drive for possessive materialism and perpetual growth comes at a cost.
We try to hide and deny our carbon footprint whilst preaching to the world of our exemplary carbon credentials. It is wrong, so very, very wrong.
I consciously strive to reduce my carbon impact in all that I do, but when you plug in the numbers into the “how many planets will be needed to support your lifestyle” calculator, I need 1.8 Mother Earths to live. Well, guess what, we don’t have 1.8 Mother Earths. We have 1, just 1 and the average current Western lifestyle demands more than 3.
The carbon MUST sit with the consumer not the producer. The responsibility for the carbon cost of my washing machine must be mine, not China’s. The emissive damage from the creation of my laptop sits not with the nation of its creation, but with me, and even the relatively low eco impact of my bamboo pants is still my responsibility.
Our leaders and our media need to own up to this reality and take responsibility.
But how can you and I give them a hard time when it is our insatiable demand for “stuff” that is the root cause of the problem.
I constantly argue that the world needs humanity to be more compassionate, not just to each other but to all sentient beings and to our beautiful and only life-giving planet without which we do not exist.
Compassion is “understanding with positive action”.
Deep in our hearts we know the truth – It’s not their carbon, it’s ours!
So what positive actions will we all take?