Meaning It – COP26 without the blah, blah, blah

Throughout the fortnight in November 2021 in Glasgow, Anuradha Vittachi was reporting on the COP26 Climate Summit. Each night’s ‘Meaning It’ programme featured a different guest exploring key aspects of the negotiations underway inside the COP.Monday, November 1

Prizewinning science journalist Mark Lynas talks to Anuradha about the Climate Vulnerability Forum, a global south coalition of over 40 highly vulnerable but disparate countries, from Afghanistan to the Maldives, and their plans to survive and prosper – including their Debt Manifesto, and how other governments could support or hinder their survival – plus an overview of the prospects for the COP.

Guest speaker Melanie Nazareth, who initiated the ‘Camino to COP’ pilgrimage, speaks to Anuradha about the meaning of walking all the way to Glasgow and the surprising message the pilgrims brought.

The world’s biggest global coalition for clean energy was launched yesterday at COP26. But will clean energy reach the villages of the global south, and in a fair and accessible way? Anuradha hears from Lydinyda Nacpil of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, and follows the development of the Green Grids Initiative over its 7-year gestation with Nick Dunlop, founder of Climate Parliament.

Meaning It: Who really rules the world?
Donnachadh McCarthy reveals to Anuradha how the billionaire-owned media secretly corrupts the democratic process – appointing and replacing Prime Ministers, smearing peaceful protestors via reports produced by PR agencies disguised as think tanks, and manipulating public opinion against serious climate action. And then… a disquieting postscript. 

Meaning It: How the UK’s financial sector enables the world’s fossil fuel addiction.
Is the UK the climate innocent it claims to be or a fossil fuel enabler? Donnachadh McCarthy reveals to Anuradha Vittachi the shocking reality that the UK, far from contributing only 1% of the world’s carbon emissions, is one of the prime enablers of our addiction to fossil fuels. Young climate activists from Green New Deal Rising are unimpressed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s financial announcement at COP26 – and Juice Media hilariously satirizes the gap between the Morrison government’s pro-climate claims and what it actually does. 

Meaning It: Why our denial melted into disavowal but left us stuck there.
The brilliant Juice Media kicks off tonight’s show with a graphic explanation of why Net Zero at 2050 just won’t do. And Anuradha Vittachi asks psychotherapist Chris Robertson why we keep refusing to take proportionate action in the face of looming calamity. He explains our need to distance ourselves from the guilt of complicity – and points us to Sally Weintrobe, who links our uncaring to neoliberal economics and its roots in Exceptionalism. 

Meaning It: Young inheritors of the climate struggle.
The story of this COP is different from all the others in that young people have really made their presence felt in Glasgow and around the world. Tonight we hear from young voices, beginning with those who tweeted, instagrammed or ticktocked their climate actions and their challenges to world leaders on the #MyBitYourBit platform, a beautiful, giant mosaic of the Earth. And then we hear from Meera Dasgupta, the US Youth Poet Laureate (2020), till Juice Media both cheers and scares us. We end with a rousing protest song from the late, great, ever-young Roy Bailey.

Meaning It: Fossil fuels – outing the elephant in the room.
It’s the strangest thing, but so many people at COPs have talked for decades about everything except fossil fuels, the root cause of climate change. But at last the elephant in the room has been outed with the launch of BOGA, the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance of a dozen countries, co-led by Costa Rica and Denmark. Will this be the beginning of the end of filthy fuels? We give the whole show over to BOGA today to mark this vital moment. 

Meaning It: Behind the scenes of COP negotiations .
Simon Maxwell is both a COP outsider and an insider: he has spent his working life pressing for socially just development in the global south – and, as a world expert in development, he has also chaired COP negotiations. He explains to Anuradha Vittachi, step by step, the complexities of the vital process of planning socially-just transitions out of fossil fuel based economies.

Meaning It: So did anyone at the COP mean it, or was it all just blah blah blah?
Anuradha Vittachi looks at the (probably final) cover text and assesses how far this COP has come. Has it unlocked enough doors to make 1.5 degrees viable, and forestall a climate wipeout? Perhaps. And that will please the north, which now feels vulnerable too, but it won’t be enough to save the impoverished people at risk in the global south.