Climate Justice campaigners

In the Spirit of COP and Coy

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.

3 thoughts on “In the Spirit of COP and Coy”

  1. What a load of ignorant, ill informed tosh – not to mention emotional blackmail, hysteria & hypocrisy! As I would have been told ‘awa wi your greeting & your carry on’!

    Many people in Scotland have not lived the life of luxury for generations, whatever the ungrateful writer of this article may think. How dare these people expect be given visa’s to come into our country ‘for a jolly’, when our government is introducing a ‘medical appartheid’ on those who are not able to get their vaccines for medical reasons. The same government that has murdered sick, disabled & elderly, taking away their human right, wrecked businesses & incomes & kept it’s citizens in a cruel lockdown

    Having done voluntary work in South Africa when it WAS under the evil appartheid, I experienced extremes of poverty & WEALTH, such as I had never experienced myself in my working class background. I also experienced classism, & evil, ignorant stereotyping such as is contained in this article. Let me be clear. I do not subscribe to stereotyping of any sort, whether by class, race, sex or gender unlike the writer of this article.

    If this young man from Zimbabwe, has been able to attend university & graduate as an engineer, then there is nothing ‘coming ower’ him. He obviously comes from quite a wealthy family, unlike the people I encountered who had no clean running water, no electricity, no benefits, basic schooling & certainly no access to university education. My parents were not able to finish secondary school, but worked hard to put a roof over my head and send us to school & higher education. They did not have central heating or double glazing until I was in my 20’s. We did not have all the benefits that this young generation now have. How dare you say I suffer from white privilege. This ignorant article is spreading downright lies, hatred & discrimination. There is no place for this in Scotland.

    It is not true that ‘white colonialism’ is the root of all evils in Africa, South America or India. Black people can oppress & murder each other in the most brutal & heinous fashion – just as can Indian, Chinese & white. They also can make the most brutal & corrupt dictators, who steal from their people & keep them in poverty & oppression.

    Please stop repeating this ignorant ‘colonialism’, ‘white privilege’ & these destructive American ‘critical race’ lies. We are all capable of greed & corruption. Why are sensible Scots allowing American lecturers to change OUR society, re-write our history & create division where none needs to be?

    Get a grip, lad. I sincerely hope that you are not being taught this garbage in a Scottish University, otherwise I will regret voting for free tuition fees. Who is paying your wages & for the hosting of this website?

    1. Roland Chaplain

      So sorry that you should feel like this. Of course corruption is common to all human beings where ever power and wealth are concentrated irrespective of race or nationality. That is why I call for a rewriting of national and international legal frameworks to make it much harder for the concentration of huge amounts of wealth and power into the hands of so few people.
      I met Nqaba 3 years ago when I was in Zimbabwe with my partner who knew his family from previously having been a health worker there for 5 years. I can assure you that the very reason why I saw the importance of giving Nqaba a voice at COP and COY is because he is typical of second generation beneficiaries of Mugabe’s land redistribution. That land often went to families like his growing up in even more demanding conditions than you would have known as a child.
      He may have 2.5 hectares of land, but, without the help of funding we were able to channel his way, he couldn’t even have attempted his proof of concept irrigation problem. It failed, like a huge numbers of others, simply because the borehole couldn’t go down deep enough to find the water table. It is stories like his that need toed to be heard at COP.
      You seem to presume I’m a student or young academic. In fact I’m 80. My parents were both refugees in 1939 (mother partly Scottish but grandfather German and my father a nomadic, stateless, heavy labourer. Some of my earliest memories were going with my father begging for scraps from the butcher’s, endlessly gathering firewood and, when available, brambles, chestnuts, etc. for warmth and food. I think that gives me a right to say I can empathise with the precarious existence of families like Nqaba’s.
      There is another twist to my personal story which may help you understand where I’m coming from. My father did, in fact, come from a family that was immensely wealthy through exploiting the mineral and timber resources of mainly “global south” nations. He had the foresight to recognise some of the global future consequences of their greed. So spoke out against what they were doing and was disowned and disinherited by them.
      Perhaps you will feel that my motivation in taking up the cause of the victims of that exploitation is a guilty conscience. Maybe you’re partly right, but I’d suggest that it comes primarily from a lifetime of working as an applied weather forecaster/climatologist with periods working in future studies and peace and conflict resolution.
      If only you could see that you too are a victim of a system that predisposes towards colluding with our species’ immaturity and inability not to be corrupted by wealth and the power that it brings. I would love to feel that humans will use the next 30 years to reframe the whole of our relationships with one another and the natural world around us, but I fear it might need millennia and that we could already be too far down the path of self-destruction.

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