Platitudes will not distract from the ravages of climate change

There is an old saying that we should listen twice and speak once. The conversation about climate change has been going on for far too long and far too few are paying attention to it.

For decades it has been obvious that we must stop talking and start doing – yet the missed goals and missed opportunities are piling up, while the bill for our negligence is paid with the suffering and shattered lives of the poorest people on our planet.

It’s easy to see why activists like Greta Thunberg have grown impatient with the idle chatter.

As Taoiseach Micheál Martin told Cop27 yesterday, “This generation of leaders cannot say we didn’t know.”

There’s a rule of debate that if you have nothing to contribute to the discussion, don’t go off talking aimlessly. No one can say that there hasn’t been too much aimless and distracting discourse.

“Our citizens are growing increasingly cynical, weary and hopeless when words are not followed by urgent action; when commitments don’t create new realities. We can already see and feel the world changing around us,” Mr Martin said at the climate conference in Egypt.

Nowhere are the harshest effects of this decline being felt more than in the developing world. Relive the year of catastrophic floods in Pakistan and Nigeria.

This year, policymakers agreed to speak out on poor countries’ calls for more aid after seeing the damage they are already suffering from global warming as farmlands dry up, cities relocate to escape rising sea levels , and conflicts over access to increasingly scarce resources are increasing .

Mr Martin thought the situation was “urgent, not hopeless”. Those whose lands or herds have been devastated by drought, or who have had homes or land taken away from them as a result of conflict caused by climate change see hope as an exorbitant commodity. Survival depends on immediate radical intervention.

As Senegalese President Macky Sall said this week, the meeting offers us “an opportunity to make history or, if you will, be a victim of history.”

Climate justice must also influence decision-making. “Those who pollute the most should pay the most,” Mr Sall added.

Those most harmed and least protected deserve more than comforting platitudes.

Nations most at risk say they want clear financial commitments from rich countries. They have asked for a fund to be set up specifically to help countries already suffering losses and damage directly related to our overheating planet.

Quantifying such losses is difficult as studies vary, but all are immense, ranging from $400 billion a year by 2030 to more than $1 trillion a year by 2050. There is simply no way calculate the human cost.

Climate advocates said they would consider the talks a success if concrete progress was made on what some are calling climate redress.

They need reassurance, and given the damage done, asking for it seems little enough. Platitudes will not distract from the ravages of climate change

Fry Electronics Team

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