In November 2021, 180 world leaders gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26, the United Nations’ annual climate summit. But once the wheels of their private jets had touched down on domestic tarmac, it was unclear what exactly this fortnight of doomsday lecturing had accomplished.
Professional truant Greta Thunberg eloquently summarised the event as “blah, blah, blah”, and advised we “shove [the] climate crisis” in a place where the sun won’t be warming it. Though Thunberg’s criticisms are neither principled nor practical – instead predicated on a catch-all blame game of “colonial, racist and patriarchal systems of oppression” – her insults ring true. For sensible solutions to take the place of big state spending, a fair trade, energy-independent focused conservatism must set the agenda for climate and national security conversations at COP27.
Commitments from past conferences have been vague utopian visions of abolishing emissions, which avoid amounting to actual solutions and are unilaterally enforced. The Paris Accords didn’t penalise China for neglecting to meet targets and weren’t necessary for President Trump to make America simultaneously energy independent and the leading nation in reducing emissions by 2019. COP26 was a chance to correct the record with binding resolutions which put market solutions to the forefront of international conservation efforts. One of these new approaches was the pledge to end global deforestation by 2030, which was signed by more than 100 countries. While the pledge itself is more a signalled intention than prescribed path, the recognition of the importance of forests as natural carbon sinks was significant. Trees sequester carbon when alive, but also release it when cut down; with deforestation accounting for 8 to 10% of carbon emissions globally.