OPINION: COP27 – a crime against humanity, a leadership vice

Last Updated on Friday, 18 November 2022, 8:46 by Writer

by GHK Lall

I would sum up COP27 in two words. Promises, promises, promises. And dud, dud, dud. Most of those 200 plus should have done the world a favor, and stayed home. Nothing material comes out of these talkfests, so why have them?

I give Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados’s Mia Mottley a pass for sheer courage, and speaking with unfettered candor, under the harsh glare of the spotlight. Now those are my kind of leaders: no quibbling, not too much deference to historical and present exploiters, and no humble bowing before current colonizers. Somebody has to call out the big power hypocrites and pontificators. For what they have done, how they are either in denial, or engaging in the tricky to not do their duty that is owed to the world. Somebody also told me that Guyana’s Vickram Bharrat went to the fleshpots of Egypt. Must have been a junket to enjoy the pyramids since he was a phantom for all of the physical space he took up in Sharm El-Sheik. The invisible (in Guyana) Minister Bharat lived up to his reputation as voiceless local political spirit, probably cavorting with spirits of dead princes by the Nile. Did we (not he) serve any purpose by being there? Was it really necessary for the natural resources man who has no say here to be there? There is something patently unnatural about his presence sponsored by strapped Guyanese taxpayers.

Frankly, COP27 was a crapshoot (marked dice and cards) involving high rhetoric and low gravy. Matters boil down to this: show us the money. Everybody talking, but nobody ponying up with the pesos. It is of men who can do something, but are too beholden to oil companies, too tied to hydrocarbons. It is accepted that any political leader who takes a stab at oil companies doesn’t survive. To diminish incrementally, not dismantle at all, a mega-trillion industry is a messy affair, with leaking nuclear reactors all over. People lose their appetite for substantial change. Thus, they content themselves with pious speeches, exercises in drift, and of which Guyana’s own maestro of that art, one Dr. Roger Luncheon, would have been inestimably proud. The rich countries make promises and continue their perversities, while the poor people (guess color?) pay the prices. They are unforgiving. Mia Mottley had to say what she did, or in a few years, there may be no Barbados. Like Atlantis, totally submerged.

Meanwhile, the West continues to incinerate the planet with plentiful plans to rush full speed ahead. For interested Guyanese, I refer them to the oil summit (Suppliers’ Forum) in grassy Leonora, Guyana, at the exact same time that COP27 took off. Or nosedived. By my reckoning that was no accident of scheduling, but of Exxon and Hess and the oil companies unzipping their fly in response to COP27. The Leonora assembly of foreign oil buccaneers onshore Guyana saw to that, which brings me to a strange place. As a schoolboy, Francis Drake was perceived as a good guy, especially after his knighthood. After all, the Queen couldn’t do wrong. I couldn’t have been more wrong about these textbook heroes, just as how 99.9% of adult Guyanese think that they have it right with Routledge, Hess and, of course, Ambassadors Lynch and Miller. Wrong! Dead wrong! They are not about some poor colored people, only permanent interests.

Examine how ‘poor’ (an exaggeration) China and India are forced to fight for their economic life, and scorned as climate change violators, con artists. The real rogues are America, Britain, and many in the NATO club that pursued fossils with a passion, reaped its fabled prosperities, and now seek to spread the pain to the little guys. Suddenly, there is this clamor for equal opportunity and affirmative action with an all-inclusive grouping that looks and sounds suspiciously like democracy. Or some slice of undesired New Testament brotherhood. The big countries that hogged the upside of fossil fuels, and never shared the wealth, confirming capitalist vulpine rapacity, now seek a level playing field where big and small must share the pain. The once colonized lands, the people burning cow-dung and coal-pots instead of microwaves, and employing rickshaws as their version of space age transportation are being asked to contribute more than they can bear.

Instead of a “loss and damage” fund to help out the Lilliputians, there is that tried-and-true gambit long favored by the smart Western civilization set: let’s talk. There is that six for a nine called pledges: gentlemen’s agreement, honored in the breach. What’s a little welshing among friends? Why pay today what can wait for tomorrow, as in the several COPS later? Or as little as possible? Or nothing at all? Why commit to anything since nobody’s stepping up to be first? In the fixed craps game that is COP27, all are content to be followers, take up the back of the line, shell out puny cash. What and go against Exxon, Shell, Total, ENI, and BP? That’s treachery, self-inflicted torment also. After all economic supremacy and military ascendancy can be sourced to their successes. Standard of living and smug cultural primacy, too.

This is not about passing the buck, but bucking the tide, scientific and environmental ones, and those pesky tree-huggers running about spooking people with apocalyptic scenarios. Look at the destroyers of worlds. ABCE, Guyanese have fond memories of them, have a history of destroying civilizations. Oil imperialists burned up the planet in the name of progress and development, which sounds eerily like its sinister sister in Guyana. Yet the same ABCE, having had their fun with the planet, now work overtime to convert the world to conservationists. It is the same big game hunting. Just like all those lions and elephants killed off (for sport) and made into endangered species. Now the little people, the poor people, the colored people are asked to do their part. They didn’t do anything, so why should they?