The world is at one minute to midnight over climate change, according to Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom made this claim in a speech delivered on November 29th 2019. In his speech he stated that we need to take whatever steps we can and that the consequences of inaction would be catastrophic. He also said that if other countries were not willing to work with the UK then they would have to go it alone.
As the final months of 2019 draw to a close, it has been revealed that many other countries are making their own preparations for whatever the future might hold. In Germany there have been reports of high ranking officials purchasing bunker complexes from around the country. One such complex was bought from an old Soviet bunker in a sale that could be called bizzare. The Russian government offered up to 500 bunkers for sale in a number of locations. These locations were chosen because they are known to be seismically stable and could therefore provide shelter in the event of an earthquake which was cited as one of Germany’s biggest concerns.
The Roman Catholic Church has also been active over the last few months, purchasing a large number of bunkers from around Spain and Italy. In Germany it has been revealed that the Church is also planning to build a massive underground warehouse in Cologne. This complex will be able to house over 500,000 people and is set to cost 600 million Euros when completed. The German Government has earmarked 2 billion Euros for bunker construction and renovation over the next two years.
This combination of civil and ecclesiastical preparation has led to concerns that religion is taking advantage of the potential continued existence of religion in an uncertain future. The Catholic Church in particular has come under fire for its lack of action on climate change in the past. Whilst Pope Benedict XVI did attempt to raise awareness about climate change during his time in office, his reluctancy to take any action was something that has done the Church no favours amongst the younger generations.
The Arab League has also expressed concern over what will happen when oil resources become scarce or when conflict occurs because of climate change. Over one third of their combined land is desert and much of it may be rendered hostile as a result. In a move that may be seen as a direct challenge to the United Nations, they have established their own environmental agency with headquarters in Cairo. They have announced plans to establish bases across the Arab League and beyond should efforts by other countries not meet expectations. These bases will be used for research into climate change and to aid those affected by it.
In the meantime, environmental protests have been growing as people throughout the world call for action from their governments to meet targets set by the Paris Agreement and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In several countries these protests have been met with a high degree of resistance from those in authority. In China, where pollution has been at dangerous levels, a number of protests have been violently supressed by the authorities. In Bangladesh, where rising sea levels threaten to flood much of the country and cause a refugee crisis, police forces have killed over 100 protesters in recent weeks. Although the Bangladeshi government maintains that it is ready for any potential problems with climate change, some observers believe that these protests and the government’s reaction show that they are not as well prepared for climate change as they claim.
In France, there have been well over a hundred protests in Paris alone with thousands across the county calling on the French Government to meet its environmental targets. Despite this, it has been revealed that several senior members of President Macron’s administration have links to the oil industry and may be lobbying against stricter environmental measures. In the United States, where temperatures have been unusually high even for this time of year, protests have been occurring as well. It is estimated that around 200,000 people participated in a People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. last weekend but President Trump has yet to comment on the issue.
In Italy, where a new government has been established in recent weeks, politicians have promised to meet their targets set by the Paris Agreement. This is despite concerns that they may be weakened in order to win support from oil and coal lobbyists in Washington in a deal that primarily benefits Italian oil companies with operations outside of Italy including Eni and Italian Oil.