Optimism for Cop26: every bit of heating we prevent reduces suffering

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Optimism for Cop26: every bit of heating we prevent reduces suffering

Damian Carrington

I have spent much of my career focused on the environment. I know we have the tools and technology to beat this crisis

High angle shot of maintenance personnel driving down a dirt road in the middle of a huge array of dark blue solar panels, with numerous wind turbines visible on the horizon against a blue sky

Last modified on Mon 1 Nov 2021 08.29 EDT

The most important thing to say is that we can still beat the crisis – but we are against the clock. Emissions are piling up in the atmosphere every day that goes by, so we’re in a race against time to act. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

There is no moment in time when we go from a world that’s fine to a world that’s a disaster. But every action, by every person, matters. Every bit of heating you prevent reduces human and planetary suffering, because that’s really what this will come down to.

The good news is we have the tools, the knowledge and the technology – it’s just a question of developing it quickly enough that we make it accessible and affordable to the mass market. For this, political will is key, and at Cop26 we need to see a strong expression of political will.

What’s important to note is that political will can be created, and one of the best ways to create it is via protest, in which people make their desire for change clear. What’s also increasing political will, unfortunately, is that the impact of the crisis is becoming more obvious.

Green solutions are often better than the thing they are replacing – they are frequently cleaner, quieter, and they will be cheaper when produced at scale. So they will win out. Anyone who has ever driven an electric carwill know how fantastic they are to drive. They are also cheaper to run, maintain, and within a few years they will be cheaper to buy in the first place. Most models can now do 200 miles without stopping, which is probably ample for most journeys.

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Cellular meat is another good example of an exciting green solution – it’s grown in vats in factories and is much more efficient because horns, tails etcetera don’t need to be produced. People often recoil at the thought of lab-grown meat, but I wonder if they consider how meat is produced today. If it can be produced in a clean factory without the use of antibiotics, that’s good for the customer too.

I’m in the fortunate position that I get to spend my working life informing people about what’s going badly, what’s going well, and what can be done. I’ve spent much of my career focusing on this issue, and having a sense of agency is important for me. The other big thing that keeps the gloom away is meeting lots of bright, enthusiastic, hard-working people who are striving to tackle this problem.

Equally, I feel very fortunate to work for an organisation like the Guardian that takes this issue very seriously – and has done for a very long time – and is dedicating plenty of space and resources to keeping it top of the news agenda.

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