OPINION: Carbon Colonialism, COP26 and Black Friday - Daisy Snow

Barnstaple High Street

Barnstaple High Street - Credit: NDC

About five or so years ago, I started researching ‘Carbon Neutral Certification’- something much less talked about back then but something I thought would help accredit us as a business trying to have as minimal impact as possible. 

From researching it I learnt that the cost of certification was going to be more than the amount of money we’d have to pay to ‘offset’ and it was at that point that I decided if we were to go ahead, it would have purely been for commercial purposes only, a mere token gesture, because if we were sincere about wanting to offset our carbon we’d have paid to have offset more and gone without the certificate. 

The whole thing seemed crazy, and I soon came to think that the idea of ‘offsetting carbon’ to right your sins is also just another case of greenwashing, pulling the wool (well, acrylic these days) over consumers eyes. 

Fast forward to 2021, and 120 world leaders, 500 or so fossil fuel representatives and another 20-30,000 delegates ranging from scientists, people of power, NGO observers and activists, are in Glasgow for the COP26 summit, doing just that. 

Fixated on the subject of ‘net zero’, the talks are not really about reducing emissions but about buying carbon credits from elsewhere in the world to offset them. 

A scary thought when you think about the huge companies that will be buying up huge areas of land to offset their carbon and to meet targets, taking land from farmers, indigenous people and food growers – yet another thing to unbalance the system and threaten self-sufficiency of communities across the globe. 

There are solutions aside from things like carbon credits and net zero that could genuinely make things a lot better, imagine a world with drastically less consumption, or one where we make do and mended things again, or one where we would eat only seasonal and local produce that hadn’t been laced in pesticides, or one where we didn’t fly regularly across the world or didn’t waste one third of all food produced… these are solutions which admittedly do not increase GDP, or value of exports, or the bank balances of major corporations but they are solutions all the same. 

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With Black Friday looming over us I am admittedly in a particularly bad mood, discussions like COP26 taking place with the façade of being there to solve this world’s huge problem, then just two weeks later Britain alone is expected to spend £4.8 BILLION, in just 2 days, all in the name of getting ’good deals’ on stuff we don’t need that will most likely end up in landfill in a few years’ time. 

Imagine how much carbon that will have created to produce that amount of goods, and then imagine how much profit it will generate the major corporations, is it any wonder the agreements, summits and talks in place just skip around the edges, ensuring that no matter what, growth and profits are not affected? 

With that in mind, it really is a crucial time of year to shop second hand, independently and less. We as people can make the solutions that are sat right in front of us happen if we just choose carefully where our money goes, and to whom- the greatest wealth transfer in history is currently underway. 

Other actions that are really effective are local groups teaching skills such as sewing, cooking or mending things, it’s these kinds of skills which need to be re-introduced into society to take away our dependency on consuming and to sever the normality of buying new products and allowing old ones to end up in landfill. 

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