Mario Caffero, South American activist at COP26, standing in doorway

From Montevideo to Glasgow — via Bruntsfield

Hello dear Bruntsfielders!

I’m a very recent and ephemeral resident, who reached Scotland thanks to the hospitality of Mimo & Ewan and Mick & family. My journey had its target in Glasgow, where the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (COP26) is taking place. As a recently retired climatologist from South America, I felt that I could accomplish a role accompanying the youngsters.

Doubts, regrets, issues around the pandemic, and relatively high expenses related to the stay vanished when the magic of goodwill of Bruntsfielders came to convince to me that things could be properly resolved. Then I set sail to Scotland from Uruguay. And here I am Bruntsfield, but attending COP26 in Glasgow.

My activism at COP26 is linked to my membership of the international Climate Action Network (CAN), acting at the Latin American node, and trying to put on track Humanity against dangerous, worldwide climate change — dangerous for human beings and their current biospheric environment.  The functioning of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is very complex and is becoming more and more complex, because so many human activities are pushing the world climate evolution off track.

Indeed, mankind has always changed climatic conditions: from the local climate when constructing a home, to the world climate by increasing the greenhouse effect and changing the reflectance of the surfaces reached by the sunbeam (the main input of energy for all atmospheric, oceanic and biological processes).

The task of impeding human actions warming the world on a planetary scale hurts the short-term interests of big fossil fuel companies, transport corporations, huge real estate companies, and the geopolitical game of powerful nations. Nevertheless, Science explains that we are on the way to far too much warming, and the point where that warming becomes uncontrollable is getting closer and closer. 

Since human behaviour and political issues mostly focus on other short-term priorities, then each group of countries, each country and even each personal leader tries, in each COP and in each inter-sessional meeting, to put its priorities first — this week, for instance, is the week when countries (“Parties”) vote on the general decisions and pledges. Our task as observers is to take note of possible deviations in the pathways, stigmatising inequities, setbacks in progress already made, and to denounce them publicly. Our goal is also to help push forward towards a cleaner and safer world. Our advocacy is expressed by bilateral discussions with delegates, by press releases, by articles in ECO (a CAN newsletter edited since the Stockholm Conference in 1972) — or by giving out a Fossil of the Day, a symbolic “award” that some countries deserve for proposing fake solutions that would put the world in an even worse situation, or for making unethical statements.

Fossil of the Day award, COP25, photo by Connal Hughes

The ambiance in Glasgow is far from favourable to our commitment: under the pretext of the pandemic, ECO is not allowed to be distributed on paper, the ceremony of the “Fossil of the Day” is forbidden for the first time, and most of the time observers are not allowed to enter the so-called “open meetings”. Even when our voices are occasionally authorized, the times allotted are absolutely minimal.

But the warm friendship of our hosts in Bruntsfield, together with our stubbornness, are enough to keep trying.

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