Here’s the simplest of simple questions. What do you understand by the word cop?
Well, apart from the verb form (e.g. ‘You’ll cop it if you’re not careful, mate.’), COP is an acronym. You might think you’re calling a cop but in fact you’re calling a ‘constable on patrol’.
Having little of anything useful to do with my life just now, further research has revealed that COP can mean 135 different things including:- Coefficient Of Performance, Colloid Osmotic Pressure and, most lyrically, Carousel of Progress. However, possibly the cop that matters most to you, me and the rest of humanity just now is COP 21, The Conference of the Parties to be held in Paris in December.
I’ve cheated a bit here. The full title of the Paris conference is The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change but I’m sure you’d agree that, as acronyms go, COPUNFCCC doesn’t trip off the tongue the way COP 21 does (the 21 refers to the fact that this will be the 21st session).
There will no doubt be extensive media attention come November/December, unless of course Paris coincides with a royal birth, the latest ministerial paedophile revelation or the break up of some talentless boy band, and will at best inform us news watchers or at worst totally under report. And expect the obstacles and complexities to be preferentially highlighted. In any event the coverage will be neither comprehensive nor headline grabbing and the topic will be yesterdays news within hours.
Looking on the bright side, environmental movements worldwide are planning Climate Marches, the biggest expected to be in Paris itself. These demos may well grab headlines, hopefully due to there scope, civility and magnitude rather than any violent, Daily Mail-affronting peripherals.
So when the dust settles in Time Square, Whitehall and The Champs D’Elysee, what can we best hope for as an outcome? A comprehensive and binding global agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions would be nice. After all, since the failure of Copenhagen 2009, the likes of the Pope, leading Muslim clerics and progressive politicians worldwide have pushed climate change to the top of their agendas whilst renewable energy and zero carbon technologies have blossomed.
But the inertia personified by neo-liberal economists, the fossil fuel industry mega-corps and prominent climate change deniers won’t be easily overcome.
Our own administration’s intentions seem less than favourable, as their recent assault on Britain’s embryonic renewables sector has demonstrated. But should Mr. Cameron’s delegation to COP21 make claims concerning their avowed greenness they will at least arm us with a sharp stick of hypocrisy with which to beat them.
My dad, not the most optimistic of individuals, used to say “hope for the best but expect the worst” and that sums up nicely my approach to COP21. What we must remind ourselves of is that no matter how well (or badly) Paris goes, reversing climate change won’t be about one conference, one successful leadership election, one promising technology or a few abandoned coal mines. And as to calling the cops, that’s us and don’t expect the climate gangsters to come willingly.