Roland Champion – October 21st 2021
A welcome update to this article: yesterday (Wednesday 20th October) Lisa Chitura heard that her visa application has been approved. That means that she at least should just make it to COY16. However, she is UNFCCC accredited unlike Nqaba who also applied a couple of days after her. But there's still a chance he might hear something on Friday, even if that's too late to make it for most of COY16.
All the discussion of ‘Net Zero by 2050’ at COP26 is a waste of time if one doesn’t also simultaneously address the problem of the inappropriateness of the world’s existing economic, legal and land ownership frameworks. Humanity has to devise a transitional strategy for the next 30 years for ALL of these that ensures that the current ‘system’ is replaced by one whose raison d’etre is non-exploitative.
That’s because the history that has taken the world’s wealthy nations to the level of prosperity where they are now has involved the theft and monetisation of the common resources of indigenous peoples on a scale that is unimaginable. Framed in this context the figures currently being banded around for ‘aid’ to enable developing countries to ‘catch up’ are an insult compared with the true figure needed (tens if not hundreds of trillions of pounds).
So cutting our individual carbon footprints is just a start. What’s needed is also to develop an inventory for any interests we, our families or our pension or trust funds have in exploitative, extractive companies. We must then be prepared to pay the appropriate portion back into an international fund that can be used to hasten the amelioration of the effects of global warming on those nations which are the net losers from the western devised economic and legal systems.
Citizens need fair access to their nation’s resources. Individually we are all very temporary residents on whatever land we happen to find ourselves. A new legal framework and transition strategy needs to be developed to redefine that relationship in a way that ensures our presence on the land is separated from any way in which this gives us power and wealth to exploit others through its ‘ownership’. The present system is at the route of what predisposes all of us potentially towards the level of corruption globally that currently is the great barrier to tackling the climate and biodiversity crises. That lust for power and consequential corruption cycle has to be broken.
Those who have been subject to colonialism must have more power. Many new nations have had their previously stolen identity restored during the past century with what we mistakenly speak of as the end of (exploitative) colonialism. This process has now hit a brick wall as the current eligible membership of the UN has colluded with an international legal system that lets Russia, China, England, Spain and dozens of others block their right to self-government. We live in a globally interdependent world where independent nationhood status needs to be viewed in a new way that doesn’t reflect the norms of a now discredited order.
That does not seem to be the spirit in which COP26 is being organised. At the moment of writing, after many months of struggling with the bureaucratic system surrounding UK visas, immigration, etc., I am now at a point of exasperation where I have to speak out about an individual case which I believe highlights the predicament of a huge number of mainly young people who had hoped to attend COP, COY (the youth conference) and all the surrounding fringe events in Glasgow. Nqaba Ndlovu from Zimbabwe is a young irrigation engineering graduate who is trying to apply his work on the benefits of solar powered (compared with diesel) small scale irrigation on his family’s 2.5HA farm.
Nqaba’s story of the impact of falling water tables reflects that of millions of small farmers and growers in the Global South. It is people like him whose stories need to be told and heard in Scotland a fortnight hence to bring home to us in the extravagant, consumerist, northern hemisphere what the human costs are of our human caused global warming.
A few days ago Nqaba had a long meeting with Lisa Chitura, COY Regional Coordinator for West and Southern Africa, who happened also to have graduated from Lupane University. I was shocked to hear that she too still doesn’t have a visa that would allow her to come to Glasgow. Allowing for travel time and five days self-quarantining that means that effectively they have to have their documents in place by the end of Wednesday. Otherwise they have no chance of being able to be there for the start of COY16 on October 28th.
The UK Government, unlike any other previous COP host nation, refused to fund COY. The Scottish Government has offered to do so. One can’t help but think that Nqaba and Lisa’s predicament is part of a pattern to ensure that Scotland gets minimum recognition of its distinctive contributions to COP26, COY16 and the vast civic organised programme around these events.
All of the above is a call to everyone to recognise the inter-connectedness of all the causes and solutions to the present climate and biodiversity crises. Scotland is a microcosm of the global problems of human beings’ relationship with the surface of our planet. The extreme concentration of the ownership of land into so few hands in Scotland highlights the global problem of legal systems that evolved to benefit the already wealthy and powerful at the expense of the exploited. Can we have any confidence that this situation will change when those who are exploited are not even permitted to be at the table when these issues are discussed?
Lets hope that the coming weeks will see all of us go far beyond what any had previously thought possible to address this route cause of our present terrifying predicament. What I have seen so far is not a brilliant start.