Clock ticks down on COP26 to strike key deal on delivering crucial environmental agreements

Glasgow, Scotland - October 15th 2021: A sign welcoming visitors to the city of Glasgow in Scotland, coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference - COP26.

When 95 year-old David Attenborough rose to his feet to address the COP26 climate event this week in Glasgow, he gained a deserved round of applause for highlighting the fact that the assembled leaders really could make a difference in making some tough decisions to save our environment.

“Surely, working together, we are powerful enough to save our planet,” the veteran BBC nature and wildlife expert told the conference, noting that it is the youngest generations alive today that will reap the unfolding environmental crisis that impacts on each and every one of our lives, including those widely considered on the frontline of the issue, working within directly food supply chains around the world.

Furthermore, it was down to another highly esteemed 95 year-old to underline the pressing nature of the situation further in the form of Her Majesty the Queen, via video link, who said ‘many people had hoped that the time for words has moved to the time for action,” summing up the concerns of many around the world on this most vital of issues.

But with two of the world’s leading protagonists in the form of China and Russia, who are between them in the top five polluters in the world in terms of national carbon emissions, not even bothering to attend the event, this only served to underline the sheer urgency of united actions that put tangible goals that provide solutions rather than talking points.

Perhaps it was no huge surprise given the immense size of the task faced by the world then that there was no formal invite for teenager Greta Thunberg, who has achieved a huge amount for the cause of environmental activism over the past few years.

Memorably, she stunned world leaders into silence at Poland’s COP24 event, laying bare the collective failure of our global political elite to actually gain a consensus on acting on, rather than merely pledging, climate improvements. But rather than be undeterred, the Swedish youngster has said that ‘we will not let them get away with it,” speaking on the perceived continued inability to lock-in the world’s leading nations into binding commitments.

While the has been quite rightly a headline focus on seeking a joint agreement on limiting climate temperature rises, there are equally pressing present concerns that are directly related to this within our vital food supply chains, including the cocoa sector. Its concerns have been represented by Fairtrade at events linked to the two-week environmental event, which have laid bare just how significant the crisis actually is.

As Kouame N’dri Benjamin-Francklin, an Ivory Coast farmer explained exclusively to Confectionery Production this week, he is fearful for many in his home country who attempt to earn a living from his sector. He revealed that increasingly erratic temperatures and rainy seasons have potentially devastating impact on the industry’s ability to function with any security. This is directly linked to temperature rises globally that are already happening.

He sincerely hoped that being afforded such a platform could ultimately make even some difference to the thinking of those who hold the levers of power, so we can only hope the next week and a half actually delivers something concrete beyond politicians’ promises for resolution. The consequences of failure to act are too great to contemplate.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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