World Leaders Pretend They Don’t Have Power

Bruno Macaes/Twitter

Nathan Nayor/Staff Writer

Many world leaders, including the world’s most powerful ones, were at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow this weekend to discuss how to fight climate change.  Instead, they decided to wish for good luck and take a cute picture of themselves doing it. 

In a time where actions matter more than words, world leaders still would rather make performative speeches and take pictures instead of making the legislation necessary to save the world before its current projected tipping point: 2030.  People are already dying from increased natural disasters and famine, organisms from all walks of life are going extinct and we have seen no improvement. Notably, Xi Jinping, the leader of China, the country that releases the most greenhouse gases in the world, did not even bother to show up.  Previously, he had promised carbon neutrality by 2060, but that is already too late.  India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised net-zero by 2070 despite leading the country with the third-most emissions worldwide.  

This is nowhere near fast enough to prevent the point of no return in global warming.  At the rate we are going now, even with the theoretical implementation of the current plans (because, frankly, these goals are not going to be met), the climate is going to continue to change endlessly, and there will be nothing left to do but drown or burn.

The president of the world’s second biggest emitter, Joe Biden, actually went and gave a speech on how switching to green energy could produce jobs, detailed his “Build Back Better” plan that promises to bring down our emissions to “50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030”.  The 2005 level was 7,423.03 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, so that means 3,711.515 – 3,859.9756 million metric tons of emissions by 2030. The problem is that just to prevent any more rising in temperature, the world would have to reduce its carbon emissions by 123,750 million metric tons yearly until 2030.  

That’s 32.0598 – 33.342 times what Biden promises.  While we are not the only emitters in the world, we need to do our hardest to reduce worldwide emissions, not just our own, especially when Jinping did not even make the effort to make a performative appearance. Biden promises a net-zero economy in the US by 2050, but we need a global net-zero economy now.  

Chart of the math the author did to get results in paragraph above

This scares me.  It scares me that we are so far from our goal in so little time, it scares me that my grandchildren might not thrive, and it should scare you too.  The leaders of the world, including the world’s biggest emitters, are passing around blame and responsibility as Earth approaches doomsday.  “May God save the planet”, Biden? I sure hope so, because if world leaders are unwilling to make the radical changes required, changes that would not have been radical if action was taken the first time that climate change was even brought up in the public forum, then we have nothing left to hope for. 


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