Reality is that COP26 has just kicked can down the road

December 29 2021

I WAS initially encouraged to read James Heappey’s ‘Message from the MP’ in December’s Wells Voice. In it he writes, “Climate change and the environment are topics of great importance to my constituents here in Wells.”

But given this concern for matters of such clear importance locally, I find it very surprising that he refuses to engage with constituents who are members of Extinction Rebellion; exactly the people, from absolutely all walks of life, who care most about nature and the future of their children and grandchildren on this fragile Earth. In a letter to a constituent ‘explaining’ his reasons for cancelling three times a Q&A meeting about the Climate Emergency in Axbridge last month, he says it was because he realised that members of Extinction Rebellion might be present.

As a member of Extinction Rebellion and a constituent of James Heappey, I take exception to the fact that he won’t enter into a debate, which we have been seeking for months, with some of his constituents. All constituents have a democratic right to be heard at a meeting with their parliamentary representative, whatever organisation they may belong to.

I had prepared questions to ask him and was very interested in his replies – one such was: what measures is his government taking to protect the residents of Somerset from the inevitable floods which will occur by a 1.5 degree of warming? The recent IPCC report said that there will be a one to two meter sea level rise with 1.5 warming.

He says in Wells Voice that the 1.5 degree target, while challenging, is still very much alive. Experts, however, from the government’s own Climate Change Committee have said that, were countries to keep their promises made at COP26 in Glasgow, which on past form is highly unlikely, we would be on target to hit 2.7 degrees.

Mr Heappey also praises the fact that now 90 per cent of countries are on track to agreeing to ‘net zero emissions’ by 2050 and attributes this to our government’s ‘leadership role’. He neglects to say that net zero is not zero but a complicated and deceptive calculation which includes ‘carbon offsetting’ by buying carbon emissions from other countries, planting trees, future technological inventions and other green washing schemes, while allowing the continued burning of fossil fuels. But all scientists agree the only way of saving life on Earth is by ceasing immediately all fossil fuel exploration, a measure our government (and the other rich countries in the Global North) would not agree to at COP26.

He lauds ‘plans to reduce coal’ while omitting to mention that it is the poor, underdeveloped Global South which depends on it, while the rich Global North, responsible for the Climate Emergency we find ourselves in, is relying on gas and oil for its energy sources and there’s no mention of a plan to reduce these.

So, rather than ‘a step in the right direction’ COP 26 is just another case of kicking the can down the road to another failed COP, as with all the previous 25 COPs.

Finally, I would like to invite our MP, whose salary is paid by our taxes, to enter into a debate on the measures needed to prevent further harm to life on Earth and in particular in Somerset, with whichever of his constituents chose to attend.

M Sorrell
A Wells constituent