The build-up to the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow has been long and massively overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the last 17 months, politicians, press and members of the public alike have been guilty of pushing global warming further and further down the list of priorities. One crisis at a time, please.
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the current state of the climate told us what we knew already but have been unwilling to admit – crises do not wait patiently for their turn to devastate us.
In any case, climate change has not snuck up out of nowhere. It was already an urgent concern prior to the first coronavirus outbreak.
Climate change is not a far-away problem
In those early days of spring 2020 – before it was officially declared a pandemic – the UK reacted to Covid in the same way it had been dealing with global warming. Coronavirus was an abstract, far-away problem that might well go away on its own, despite everything experts were saying. Then, suddenly, it wasn’t. It was here.
The likelihood is that the same scenario will happen with climate change.
Of course, we are already seeing the effects of global warming in the form of extreme weather changes. Devastating wild fires and floods are now regularly reported in the news.
While places like Greece, Germany, China and California have dominated headlines most recently, these very real consequences of climate change also often affect the north and north-east of Scotland.
Glimmers of hope but hard work ahead
The question now is if we have learned enough from how quickly the Covid crisis snowballed to pay attention to the IPCC report and take immediate action, rather than keeping our fingers crossed for a magic fix.
There is no easy way out of global warming. There will be no respite; no five minutes to catch our collective breath. Human decisions brought us to this point and human decisions and innovations are the only thing that can help us now.
The latest findings should renew our belief in the importance of COP26 and galvanize our leaders into action. There are glimmers of hope in the report, but there is a great deal of hard work to do – not least facing up to our denial of the severity of the situation we find ourselves in.
The Voice of the North is The Press & Journal’s editorial stance on what we think is the most important story of the day