The Naked Truth: The Global Leadership Vacuum laid bare at COP26 #36 #cong21


In a world, where leaders are too eager to compromise, Greta Thunberg moves from being, the one they found so easy to ridicule, to the one who ridicules them. To balance our leader’s acceptance of the corporate demand to return to business as usual, we need to send an equally loud and singular message that our future is not for sale, and that we wont fall for any more of what she calls their ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. COP 26 was a pantomime where the leaders showed just how weak they really are
  2. It takes great soundbites to lead in a world with a short attention span
  3. The global solidarity stemming from our shared covid experience must not be wasted
  4. People power will come from being more consistent as voters and consumers

About Damian Costello

Over lockdown, I downed tools as a consultant. I stopped dead. After 30 years I could no longer justify using my expertise in disruption to help global corporations avoid being disrupted. I joined a global voluntary group called Pivot Projects to help accelerate a global societal ‘Pivot’ to a fairer, more democratic, more environmentally sustainable society.

For years I had missed the hypocrisy, that all my Congregations were about me predicting and championing the very societal change that my work was delaying.

I will soon be in a position to share the next phase in my career, one where I will have the power to make real progress on my reinvigorated mission to replace the current ‘illness management industry’ with a proper preventative healthcare system.

Maybe now I’ll give myself a better answer to the predictable question from twenty or thirty years in the future ‘What did you do Granddad when you realised the world was going to shit?’

Contacting Damian Costello

You can connect with Damian on LinkedIn

By Damian Costello

During the first two weeks of November 2021 the world’s so-called ‘leaders’ entertained each other in the Blue Zone in Glasgow for COP26, the UN’s global climate change conference. Hopes were high that this one was going to achieve the hard commitments needed to keep the world’s average temperature under the Paris Agreement’s target of 1.5 degrees above preindustrial global temperature levels. And did it? Not even close. Experts predict that if countries were to stick to what they promise in the Glasgow Climate Pact, we would be lucky to keep climate change below a catastrophic 2.4 degrees. Glasgow 2021 seems to be the COP where our leaders gave up on pretending that they are even trying.

I attended this pantomime with ten colleagues from a voluntary global group called Pivot Projects, which came together virtually during the first Covid lockdowns in March 2020. We were at COP to launch a book called “The Pivot” for which my friend Steve Hamm has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. As the somewhat cynical leader of the group’s economics and politics work stream, even I didn’t expect things to be as bad as they turned out to be.

The event didn’t start off well for the hosts, the British Government led by one-time climate denier, Boris Johnson. Plans to take full PR advantage of the global spotlight were marred by a corruption scandal in Johnson’s cabinet and his ham-fisted attempt to sweep it under the carpet. Later in the week we found out that over 500 fossil fuel executives had been invited into the exclusive Blue Zone where they would’ve had unfettered access to global leaders, not that they needed any more access. While the corrupt mingled with their corrupters, many attendees lamented the lack of representation or access to leaders, afforded to younger people, or to indigenous voices from the communities already decimated by climate change.

Out on the streets Greta Thunberg repeated her new sound bite “No more Blah, Blah, Blah”. I suspect that looking back we will see it as having the same resonance as “Yes, we can” or “Make America great again” because it seemed to land a serious blow to those in their ivory towers. Unlike her previous meme “how dare you”, the sincerity of which our cynical world was only too ready to ridicule, this time round it was the teenager who was ridiculing the establishment. I couldn’t help but feel, watching the phrase take off on placards, in coffee shops and in railway carriages over the following few days, that we were witnessing an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ moment. The phrase highlights that the untrustworthiness of the global establishment, both political and commercial, is something to be laughed at, rather than feared. Those in power only have it because we give it to them as citizens. Our leader’s corporate masters have power because as consumers we reward them for their lies. Maybe, if a child can show us that they are to be reviled rather than exalted, we will be able to summon the courage to challenge them more effectively.

COP26 suggests that global leaders are at best diplomats, toothless negotiators trying to strike a deal between the commercial giants in the Blue Zone and the children on the streets. They seem to be building a case for the mass acceptance of 2.4 degrees as a revised target. They feign concern on the global stage but fight against the required changes when they return home. Our leaders just want to get back to business as usual and to make sure that whatever they do on climate change doesn’t impact corporate profitability. They will continue to do so, until we stop allowing them to divide us. They ignored the fact that COVID-19 gave people all over the world a new sense of solidarity, but we now need to follow that up with consistency in the ballot box and in our shopping carts. We need to shout louder if we are to drown out the voices of their corporate lobbyists. We need them to believe us when we say we will no longer be satisfied with their ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’.

COP 26 turned out to be a PR disaster for the powers that be, but if it ushers in the final act of the current exploitative system, then I will be glad to say that I was there. There, when the world realised just how stupid it was to allow itself to be led by such small minded and greedy men.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Hi Damian,
    Good to reconnect, even if briefly. I’m still much taken up with domestic concerns. But I’d love to hear your thinking on PivotProjects at the beginning of this new year. Maybe we can set up a call?

    Meanwhile all best for 2022

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