COP27 plus needs Maverick leadership. As I write this, the dust has well and truly settled after the most recent global climate response summit, colloquially known as “#COP26”.
Well, I say “dust”, but it’s probably more the emissions particles from all the private jets getting the important people in the world to Prestwick Airport and thus to the Blue Zone of the COP arena on Glasgow’s waterfront. Sigh.
There was progress, but it was minimal, let’s be fair. The hard-to-solve problem of how to have an agreement on the route to net-zero that also embraces climate and social justice internationally, has been “kicked down the road” to COP27, taking place in Egypt in 2023. At least they agreed that climate change is now a matter of scientific fact and there will no longer be a debate about this. That’s good (although it is unlikely to quieten those who have most to lose by climate action).
My argument is that there was a fundamental lack of leadership demonstrated by the influential players. There were plenty of worthy words, but the actions and genuine pledges simply were too weak to have much impact. To misquote Greta Thunberg, “our house is still on fire”.
As I have listened intently to informed experts comment on the outputs from COP26, I couldn’t help wondering what a Maverick leader might have made of the proceedings, and the influence they might have had.
I am of course using the term Maverick in its Maverick Paradox context and definition, but with the “wilful” nottaken to mean “do whatever you fancy” as might perhaps be applied to at least one world leader at the talks (an Extreme Maverick if ever I saw one). I interpret the term more as “determined” or “intentional”. Or brave.
I was thinking about the Socialised Maverick’s ability to think around corners, to problem solve and to be brave in solution-finding. Sounds to me like a Maverick or two in that mould would be handy when dealing with any knotty global challenges. These skills are particularly necessary when dealing with the Gordian Knot of climate change.
Perhaps the most important element in all this is that bravery I mention. Bravery to tackle a problem so vast and enveloping so many people that it feels way too hot to handle. Bravery to take a stand when perhaps not everyone in one’s own homeland is backing your stance of taking action.
And there’s the rub. A politician has to have a power base, that elects them based on a collective consensus. In the case of climate change, that consensus does not yet exist. No politicians at COP26 were so comfortable with their mandate that they could demonstrate the significant – dramatic, even – leadership required.
There are a number of ways to resolve the crisis out there, one leading one being Doughnut Economics. I won’t get into this amazing theory here, but I will attempt to summarise it, as a way to balance economic and social justice so everyone can thrive, without the perpetual economic growth of traditional economic models.
As you might imagine, that takes bravery. A lot of brilliance on the part of the theory’s marvellously -Maverick author, and a lot of bravery to adopt it on a local level, let alone national or international.
COP27 plus needs Maverick leadership
Global Gross Domestic Product has been a benchmark for growth for decades. What if we could have a fairer way for us all to thrive, just thrive differently.
THAT is Maverick thinking. THAT will be Maverick leadership. And it will happen.
One day a Socialised Maverick will build sufficient momentum behind their push for a fairer global society that their views create the basis for consensus, the kind of consensus that will permit really big change. It may be COP27. I certainly hope it’s soon.
I can’t wait. Neither can the planet.