By Josette Combes, Ripess Europe

In Glasgow (Scotland), the 191 countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement are meeting at the COP26 Conference, from 31 October to 12 November, to announce how they intend to implement the measures that have been announced and that have not yet been implemented. The acronym COP stands for “Conference of the Parties” – the parties being the countries that adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The programme of this 26th edition can be found on the United Nations website, and we do not dare to hope for great results. Indeed, it seems even more difficult to reach agreements because the international situation has evolved towards a hardening of the struggle for economic supremacy at the expense of the planet. The race for fossil fuels has not abated despite the alternatives of renewables, industrial agriculture continues to destroy forests to create export crops at the expense of food crops, and the sixth continent is not declining since the use of plastic is only marginally decreasing, since packaging is not only used to protect food but above all to support advertising and to draw the eye of the consumer.

All those involved in solidarity economy projects are aware of these observations, as ecological vigilance is one of the pillars of the new economy and is increasingly mobilising young people in initiatives in which the preservation of resources is one of the motives.

The pandemic has been an accelerator and even a trigger for these climate actions. In Hungary, for example, the Solidarity Action Group conducted a survey to seek collaborative solutions in various economic areas and published a special issue on food sovereignty on 3 November.

REAS Euskadi appeared before the Economic Development and Innovation Commission of the Basque Parliament to make contributions to the draft law on Basque rural development. “The current food production model is not sustainable. It generates serious impacts on ecosystems, communities, soil degradation and is one of the main contributors to the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and therefore to climate change. In addition, its huge dependence on fossil fuels puts the food security of our societies at risk, as evidenced by the closure of chemical fertilizer plants.” (extract)

From 12 to 14 November, the meeting of Central and Eastern European food communities will take place. This event is part of a framework to support agro-ecology, food sovereignty and part of the transition to a resilient society and community.

The importance of food quality is well known, but SSE is interested in all areas of activity, such as clean housing and cities, or green shipping, a pilot project run by DOCKS.

We must not forget that those who suffer the most from the damage caused by climate change and the plundering of natural resources are the countries of the South. In fact, “if the effects of the climate crisis are felt mainly in the South, the situation of the people concerned is hardly taken into account in political decisions” and “most decisions are taken in the North”. The climate crisis would therefore be racist. RIPESS Europe is aware of this, and is linked to countries in the South within RIPESS Intercontinental, where these issues are crucial and are at the heart of advocacy. See here.

It is time for political leaders to become effective actors in the climate, energy and economic transition, all of which are linked in an inescapable interdependence. Let’s add the democratic transition: public opinion is increasingly aware of the urgency of the situation but is unfortunately little consulted in these major gatherings such as the COPs and other summits, no more so than in national decisions, despite the speeches that flourish at election time and then fade into oblivion like rain in the desert.

The conclusions of COP 26 will be known in mid-November. In the meantime, the solidarity economy is continuing its stubborn path, with the aim of preserving what can be preserved and inventing. Inventing a new way to move from an absurd, obsolete and deleterious model of society to a social, economic and political organisation that is consistent with the challenges of preserving our biotope, the earth, and the beings that are born and live on it.