COP26 has misdiagnosed the climate crisis


COP26 was a failure long before the first invitation was sent out and each day the charade goes on the clearer this becomes.

Political leaders in various groupings of countries are making non-binding agreements to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and methane to keep global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

We’ve seen it all so many times before – at Kyoto, Paris, Copenhagen etc (The 26 in COP26 refers to this being the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference since 1995)

But despite all the angst, all the moving appeals for change, all the “good faith” negotiations, all the promises made and all the agreements signed – climate gas emissions continue their inexorable rise, albeit more slowly because of Covid lockdowns.

COP26 will be just as ineffectual as all the previous conferences and why should we expect it to be any different?

When you bring together representatives of the biggest of big global businesses with their political representatives we should expect stalling and prevaricating above all else. None of them have anything to win by reducing their profits, ending their ravaging of the environment or making concessions which yield an advantage to their “enemies”.

And the most dramatic language used to “save the planet” comes from those who want the least change – such as Boris Johnson. He is determined he won’t be outdone on the rhetoric. In fact if one sees COP26 as a battle of style over substance then it makes a lot more sense as a spectacle.

The problem with COP26 is that it has misdiagnosed the problem. The problem is capitalism which requires endless growth on a finite planet for the benefit of the 1%. Our biggest capitalists, so well represented and so dominant at COP26, don’t see a problem with climate change because capitalism has the answer. Changes in weather patterns for example simply means land becomes revalued by the market – land on the dryer East Coast of New Zealand will decrease in value while land on the wetter West Coast will do the opposite. And so on. The invisible hand of the market will see them right but in the meantime it’s important to look busy while the eyes of the world are on Glasgow.

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We know climate change will destroy the lives and livelihoods of billions of people but this has never worried big capitalists or politicians before and it won’t in the future. In the face of the human catastrophe ahead, all they need to do is practice their rhetoric and their looks of perpetual sorrow before they move on. Most of those devastated will be poor and brown and easily ignored by the likes of Boris Johnson.

The simple truth is that the planet can no longer afford the insatiable greed of our biggest capitalists and their political representatives.

While they enjoy long lunches in Glasgow, keeping their eye out for any dangers to their profits the people of the world need to be doing something different. We need to be thinking about how we get back control of our planet from the rapacious 1%.

Despite what you read here I am an optimist. I know we can defeat capitalism and its destructive impact on the people of the world and our environment. We can all enjoy good standards of living in harmony with this beautiful planet – but not while capitalism retains its iron grip on our throats.

The environment is on a collision course with capitalism – only one can win and it must be the planet. As the placards say – there is no Planet B.



  1. I don’t believe we can all live well even without capitalism. There are simply too many of us.

    The best we can hope for is a “levelling down” and greatly reduced numbers.

  2. And then there are all the consumers in New Zealand who insist on driving huge SUVs and Utes. The truth is that most New Zealanders don’t want to actually do anything that affects their lifestyle preferences. The finger can be pointed in all directions

    • too true as long as it’s ‘them’ that have to sacrifice it’s great, once it’s ‘us’ it’s different

    • even if NZ went back to living like we did in the stoneage it wouldn’t make any difference to the global issue, We are very small fry.Now India and China, thats a different story

  3. Over population is the number one problem.

    What to do about that?

    Nature always has a plan don’t you worry 🙂

    • some people learning how to use a condom might help

      well….l how about an additional tax on more than 2 kids rather than rewarding the rabbit breeders with tax breaks..?

      yeahhhh yeah I know more angels for jebus, I love my brood that I can’t bring up properly, oh it’s cultural….funny how we laugh at catholics with broods of hungry mouths but not religious fundamentalists of all stripes, crystal healing karens and other groups.

      • So where are the rabbit breeders as you have put them. Places like Japan are desperate for their young to have children in order to have a replacement population. And they are not the only country that sees itself in this predicament.

    • Over population, what you should be saying is ‘the resources being owned and consumed by so few. There is still enough to feed the world but lots of it doesn’t get to where it needs to be.

      Where are these over populations. We know that as the standard of living rises in third world countries the number of children they have reduces. People have large families as an insurance, to look after them in their old age. So many countries have no government system that looks after those who are old and or infirm.

  4. Mind body spirit.
    The spirit should actually be acknowledged first…
    Many people are possessed by the spirit of capitalism thanks to US programming, even the Chinese

  5. Wake up, look at the socialist countries and show us where in the world socialism was and is better. The industrialisation at any costs was a leading principle of Marxism-Leninism.

  6. As well as being one of the most increase of carbon emissions in the developed world, NZ is also an embarrassment for their woke interpretations of the causes.

    Apparently they had a speaker who decried colonialism as the reason for climate change.

    Pleeeeze, it’s not the coal, it’s not the plastic, it’s not capitalism, it’s not predatory capitalism, it’s not neoliberalism, it’s colonialism!

    So I guess not being able to understand what causes carbon emissions and their support for industry and big business, might be part of why Labeen have been spectacularly unsuccessful at stemming our emissions.

    • The penny hasn’t dropped for Labeen and the woke that neoliberalism, is post colonialism for individuals and businesses, with better lobbying. It’s nothing about race or countries, the least ethical global business with politicians on every shore, are often the winners!

  7. Climate change-change has to come from Gov’t. The Govt has to make the big calls that will force big business to do the right thing, including dairy farming. There’s too many blockheads in this country that don’t give a flying fuck about anything except money, not even their kids and grandkids. Money rules, and Govt allows this shit to just keep happening. Vote for a party with Green policies. Boomer replacement generations will take action if it’s not too late by then.

  8. There’s never, ever, a alternative tabled for capitalism.
    Come of John Minto and others, lay your cards on the table. Tell us what the alternative is and how much better it will be (conveniently ignoring the 20th century of course).

  9. People the world over could opt out. Opt out of a system of mindless consumerism, cheap shit from Amazon and Kmart, buy used if they need stuff, use public transport, and eat local as far as they can.
    WE don’t need a car for every adult, kid and dog. WE don’t need a new device every other month. WE don’t need to keep up with the Joneses or the Jineses. WE don’t need to knock down every tree and shrub on our properties to have ‘low maintenance’. We don’t need all the shit that we hoard in storage container blocks for money because we don’t have place for it where we live.
    We don’t need so many of the things we are told we need, and yet we – as in the unwashed masses – really do believe we need that shit, and by doing so might get to feel rich. lol.
    Water however is something we need. Don’t have any for a few days and we end up dead. Mind that is a good business model, right, how much do you think you can pay for a litre if you life depended on it?

  10. We should have more direct democracy. Perhaps then the governments won’t be so beholden to corporate interests

    • Direct democracy in California was a bloody disaster. What is needed is civics in schools so that from a young age people understand what the difference may be in the various parties on offer. No left wing parties at all at the moment, well probably the Maori party are closest.

      • There’s more than one way to do direct democracy so I’m sure the management and processes could be improved in California

        Yes, education in thinking so people can identify actual facts is very important. Misinformation is an enemy of democracy

  11. The economic system has been set up to covert fossil fuels into waste. And ‘no one’ wants to change the economic system.

    So it will be crash and burn, a mega crash and burn, a much much bigger crash and burn than if all the fundamental issues had been addressed in the late 1960s, by which time they were all identified.

    Corruption and lies continue to rein supreme.

  12. “And the most dramatic language used to “save the planet” comes from those who want the least change – such as Boris Johnson. He is determined he won’t be outdone on the rhetoric”

    In fact of all the developed nations, the UK is making the most progress. When I was a child nearly 90% of the electricity generated in the UK was achieved through burning coal whereas now they only have one coal fired power station and are planning to get rid of that. They’ve achieved this by a combination of nuclear, wind and importing hydro power from Norway via undersea cables.

    Meanwhile notable green/left governments including Germany and here in NZ are going backwards.

    • We don’t have a Green left government, the Labour lot haven’t been on the left of politics for at least 25 years I’d say. They do not represent the working man/woman at all. I listen to RNZ national and I am astonished by the endless talk about dorklanders being able to get their lattes. I wonder how many people in that great south auckland area of 3 labour seats have ever seen a latte. Most of them spending so much time just feeding their kids in between their 3 jobs for each adult in the family.

      All politicians should have to live in the poorest suburbs in their cities that is the only way they will really understand how some people are having to live because of the appalling policies that successive governments put out.

  13. NZ’s government plans to switch to a circular economy to cut waste and emissions, but it’s going around in the wrong circles

    Key points.

    “But the government’s plans for circularity are fragmented, contradictory and uncoordinated. They fail to confront the business-as-usual drivers of the linear economy or to enhance collaboration.

    New Zealand is one of the most wasteful countries in the OECD. Waste is not only a pollutant but the dead end of a linear supply chain that emits greenhouse gases at every step along the way.

    Roughly half of global emissions come from producing and consuming stuff. Every bit of waste represents embodied emissions lost to the economy.

    In a circular economy, products are built to last and designed for repair. Organics are composted to replenish soils. Business models favour sharing over individual ownership, and reuse over single use.

    Despite responsibility being the central theme of the waste proposal, it makes nobody responsible for waste creation because it never analyses where waste comes from. Instead, it emphasises improved waste management and anti-littering laws. This lumps responsibility at the end of the pipe, on individuals and councils who cannot influence waste baked into the system further upstream.

    Furthermore, product stewardship is ring-fenced to “end-of-life” activity, neutralising its potential to redistribute responsibility further up product supply chains.

    The emissions reduction plan does not fill this gap, apart from some promising initiatives for the construction sector. The connection it draws between circularity and climate abatement mostly relates to organic waste rather than overall production and consumption. Despite considering the potential for new business models to address climate change, product stewardship is barely mentioned.”

  14. I am writing this for those who don’t understand the difference between Capitalism and Socialism. Let’s face it, Capitalism sucks – It’s like always being the winner of Monopoly and ending up not being liked by all your (ex) mates.
    The biggest obstacle facing Socialism is the fear of Communism. They are not the same. The biggest enemy of Socialism is Capitalism with its ability to fan the flames of greed (and consumerism) and promote the ‘winner takes all’ view of life.
    The end game of uncontrolled Capitalism is barbarism. Socialism is needed to temper the extreme boom and busts of Capitalism and promote sharing and caring of resources so that people can live harmoniously and peacefully. It is time that developed Countries dumped their freemarket Capitalism and leaned more to Socialism so that we just might survive on this planet. Barbarism is not a pleasant prospect, which is what is happening in the USA now. The problem is the Americans have propagandised the West to believe Socialism means Communism. That is not true and, if it is done properly. offers a better future.

      • Yes John, None because they would be cold shouldered, have sanctions imposed on them, and then have “democracy” delivered to them. Sound familiar? The Empire does not tolerate deviance from their hegemony. But, it is true to say that no industrially developed nation has taken on true socialism and I think it would be worth it to see the experience. Also rampant climate change may well see an increase in socialism in many places It has been said the choice is Socialism or Barbarism.

      • Gosh John – are you so ignorant that need to ask?
        Vaguely, the Scandanavian countries (including Denmark) and NZ as it used to be all come to mind..

  15. Thank you John for a thought provoking article; however, I contend that it is more than just capitalism that the Planet Earth is on a collision course with, but totally agree that only one can win – and inescapably it will be the planet. On our current performance the Planet will be pleased to go on without us.
    Humanity is in a perfect storm –
    Like you say our current capitalist economic system depends on continually increasing consumption from the Earth’s finite resources. Massive pressure is exerted globally to maintain this system for the benefit of the 1%. This is self-destructive indulgence that can only end one way.
    This never ending consumption also creates mountains of junk which we dump into our environment causing further pollution. A visit to any waste collection station can only be described as extremely depressing.
    Our ‘food supply chain’ is dependent on fossil fuels. Our only hope in the short to medium term to reduce the use of fossil fuels is the rapid development of bio-fuels; yet we see our government stand aside and allow the Marsden Point refinery (that has the possibility of being converted to produce bio-fuels) be decommissioned based solely on reasons of commercial profit with no consideration of the environmental consequences; and we allow Ampol to place a pre-condition on the purchase of Z Energy that the refinery must be closed. The MSM allow this to happen without even a whimper.
    We are overpopulated; eco systems are already failing due to our demands on them, yet we continue to breed and prop up failing communities with food aid that in a lot of cases make problems worse for the future. Aid has often destroyed local communities’ ability to provide for themselves making them more reliant on future aid. Global warming will cause increasing frequency and intensity of droughts which will only worsen this cycle.
    To feed the current population we rely on ever increasing intensification of farming, that in turn relies on chemical fertilisers and poisons which further damage the natural world.
    Amongst all this a pandemic is upon us and we are more interested in turning it into a political bun-fight than facing the realities collectively as a community.
    We get upset when the council suggests that to provide a mass transport system street parking may have to be prohibited – if we are not prepared to accept that the way we move around the city has got to change why do we expect world leaders to achieve anything at COP26?
    Yep, COP26 is nothing more than a talk-fest that will be used by the rich to gather more wealth and the planet will become more intent on getting rid of us.

  16. Why do ‘we’ expect the status quo to change with these clowns? Seriously, it’s like banging your head against a wall.


    These politicians, like the ones before them and the ones to come along to replace them, have already been bought and paid for by the old establishment or/and the new kids on the block. The Oligarchs. They don’t give a fuck what ‘we’ want.

    So, who’s up for a revolution!? Because looking for some kind of leadership amongst these enablers is again, a waste of 13,000 tonnes of emissions flying them all into Stabba City!

    • Denny, I guess my question is: Are we as individuals prepared to change to save the planet, or do we expect some ‘miracle’ to be conjured up that enables us to continue on unaffected by the damage we are doing to the planet?
      I agree, if we expect a miracle from these COP26 attendees (we will be let-down again) that makes us as much a part of the problem as they are.

      • Sure but the consumers don’t want to change their consumption habits. The middle classes are the offenders but mainly in the northern hemisphere where 90% of the world’s population lives.
        The consumption and the supply chain links to that consumption starts there.

        Lil ole NZ, 0.7%. We could do better but there isn’t any need to reinvent the wheel ay?

  17. What was the most socialistic period for capitalist countries in the last hundred years? WW ll. And you can see it now with covid. Responses to emergencies are the way. Confronting capitalism direct now is too late and entirely unneeded.

    Of course, we’ll be too late. If the social democracies of the post war world had maintained their strength til now we could face the crisis ‘realistically’. Thanks, Rich Prebble.

  18. A book written over 1900 years ago expresses similar thoughts,
    …. and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the Earth. Rev 11:18,
    Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth Ja 5:1

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