Today has been a most disappointing day, getting ever more disappointing the more I read about the colossal failure of the COP18 climate talks in Doha, Qatar. All the major NGOs and environmental campaigning organisations are united in their conclusion that the politicians and diplomats at Doha have dismally failed to come up with any new commitments to reduce carbon emissions by enough to keep below the 2 degrees Centigrade limit they are supposed to keep to under the Copenhagen accord. They have also failed to put real money on the table to help poor and developing countries adapt to climate change, thereby failing to deliver the money promised at Copenhagen.
What keeps hope alive is that we do have vigorous campaigning organisations like our own Friends of the Earth and local grass roots organisations that spring up spontaneously all over the place, such as the anti-fracking groups and the anti-roads groups. Today, while the climate talks crashed at Doha, a spokesperson for the Yes to Polegate Wind Farm campaign group was interviewed by BBC South Today and able to express positive views about the fresh application by the developer, Galliford Try Renewables, for a wind farm in Polegate, East Sussex; these positive views have been supported by many hundreds of local people over the last year whenever the campaign group has engaged directly with the public. Wind farms are still being built both here in the UK and around the world, at an ever increasing rate, and this growing amount of clean, green, renewable, safe and sustainable energy that is virtually carbon-free is part of what can give us all real hope of preventing catastrophic global warming and still having a vibrant economy and a decent standard of living. The fresh application for a wind farm in Polegate stands a real chance of success now. What also gave me hope was being with my Greenpeace friends today, helping them with their campaign outside Waitrose in the Old Town, Eastbourne, to persuade Waitrose customers to put pressure on Waitrose management to stop doing business with Shell, who are drilling for oil in the Arctic, thereby putting at great risk one of the most pristine and fragile environments on Earth, just for the sake of yet more oil, a fossil fuel which has helped to send the Arctic sea ice into a ‘death-spiral’ as a result of carbon emissions caused by fossil-fuel burning, with possibly disastrous consequences for us all, consequences such as the increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as we are experiencing now, even in the UK. It is a supreme irony that the melting Arctic sea ice is being seen by many as an opportunity to drill for more of the oil that has helped melt the ice in the first place! Our campaigning outside Waitrose was warmly received by the vast majority of the people we engaged with, and it is always heartwarming and encouraging to see that at first hand. And we certainly need encouragement like that in the face of the crass self-interest of so many politicians who seek to preserve only short-term national and personal interests regardless of the fact that the long-term interest of everybody is to join forces urgently to deal with the growing climate emergency, which is deepening by the day, at a rate and intensity that is shocking even the most hardened and sober of the climate scientists working in the field, gathering the telling data. Doha may have failed, but the campaigning work goes on, and has to go on, because hope is still alive as long as such campaigning continues to get the great support from the public that it usually gets.