Last year’s COP26 climate conference was one of the most talked about yet, not least in the UK as it was hosted in Glasgow. Boris Johnson, as the last prime minister but one, was pushing hard for serious action and his warnings were echoed by the chair, Alok Sharma.
The event still had its critics, with Greta Thunberg claiming there was too much “blah, blah, blah” and the event was nothing but a “greenwash festival”.
However, COP26 was not about making all the decisions about climate policy for years to come, as COP27 is now about to start in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh. However, Ms Thunberg has repeated her criticism that such events are just a “greenwash”.
Of course, not everyone is so negative about the event and others have been particularly keen that it is given a chance to succeed. For that reason, there has been much controversy over the initial decision of the new prime minister Rishi Sunak not to attend.
Mr Sunak has now changed his mind, a moved described as a “screeching U Turn” by the Green Party’s one MP Caroline Lucas, but while she will be critical publicly, beneath the party politics she will doubtless be glad Mr Sunak is going.
Whether COP27 does turn into a greenwash or not remains to be seen and different commentators may vary in their opinions. But what every one of us can do is ensure our own washes are very green by using organic soaps.
Non-organic soaps tend to contain a number of synthetic materials, some of which are petroleum-based. Others contain artificial dyes and fragrances, or sulphates. Not only are these harmful to the wider environment, but they are also better for the skin.
This is just one of the many ways in which we can all do our own bit to help the environment. We could use less plastic, recycle as much rubbish as possible, get an electric car, fly less, plant trees, buy organic food and reduce or cut out meat from our diets.
Each of these things will play a key role in ensuring a consumer-led green revolution that will prompt investors to put their money into things that are genuinely sustainable and beneficial rather than just claiming to be, which will also help create the ‘political capital’ for leaders of nations to steer their energy, tax, transport, planning and other policies in a genuinely green direction.
Of course, when the environment is a global issue, it is not just up to the UK’s consumers or politicians to change everything; it needs other countries, often with larger populations and higher emissions, to make some big decisions themselves.
Many of these are somewhat reluctant as they are still middle income economies, like India and China who refused to agree to “phase out” coal at COP26 but did agree to “phase down” its use. It is a sobering thought that, according to research from the Rhodium Group last year, China alone produces more emissions than all the world’s developed nations.
Faced with such facts, some might give up. But instead, we can all fight back, starting with the morning shower. The more the rest of the world does to show the benefits of a greener world, those whose emissions are higher now will be likely to see the light.