Even Rishi Sunak wasn’t originally going until shamed into it. I struggle to recall though what he actually did there other than show his face, which may explain his original reluctance. Other international leaders equally seemed to simply jet in and jet out. All very cynical and all highly hypocritical.
It simply seemed an extension of COP26 with just a change of venue from rainy Glasgow to sunny Sharm el-Sheikh. Covid delayed COP26 and I know it has often seemed to make time stand still through the lockdowns. But what has changed a year on from the hand-wringing in Glasgow, where little was achieved?
There were a few new faces like the latest UK premier, but it was still the ‘same old, same old’ as hard decisions were avoided, and a gloss was put on what little gains were made. For sure, there was a commitment to a loss and damage fund. That can only be a good thing and it’s been decades in the making.
But payments in will be fraught and payments out will be nowhere near adequate. We’re really not much further forward and with war in Ukraine and an energy crisis causing a rush back to fossil fuels, there’s a real danger we’re going backwards.
More worryingly, I was listening to a podcast explaining that whilst politicians may be failing to act the military are preparing. They know what’s coming and with hurricanes having devastated the US MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, lessons are being learned. Naval dry docks for nuclear-powered ships are being moved or raised to address storm surges, as well as rising sea levels. Other services are similarly adjusting and preparing.
But not just in terms of infrastructure. Discussion about potential military reactions to the environmental catastrophes that are coming was truly frightening. For sure some humanitarian aid would be provided, but scenario planning for major refugee crises is apocalyptic and frankly horrific.
COP27, like COP26, was a cop-out. We’re sleepwalking to disaster, even if the military are wide awake. That strategy might save some of humankind but at the cost of our very humanity.
Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian