The 'C' words missing from COP26 talks - Readers' Letters

Loud and clear, the message from COP26 is that we must act now to combat climate change. Planting trees, switching to electric cars and recycling our rubbish are welcome, but we must go further and stop using fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

By Readers' Letters
Monday, 8th November 2021, 7:00 am
A protester holds a placard ahead of a climate change  protest in Glasgow
A protester holds a placard ahead of a climate change protest in Glasgow

In discussions on global warming there are two words that rarely get a mention; capitalism and consumerism. Most people have rejected socialism and embraced a global capitalism system, that by its very nature, must exploit workers in poorer countries who have no other option than to work in sweatshops powered by fossil fuels in order to survive.

Capitalist institutions that control our money markets have always acted in the interest of big business, telling governments worldwide they can't buck the system or their respective economies will be at risk and unemployment will follow while avid consumers in rich countries are buying cheap goods they don't really need.

Rampant consumerism is more obvious in the run-up to Christmas when our shops are full of of these goods that have crossed vast oceans at great financial and environmental expense.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Another example of the follies of capitalism is Westminster's much heralded deal with New Zealand. Lamb we produce here could be substituted for New Zealand lamb which won't taste any better, won't be any cheaper, won't help our farmers and our unemployed and certainly will not help to combat climate change.

Jack Fraser, Musselburgh

Vegan solution

If the discussions surrounding COP26 are anything to go by, it seems people are depending on governments to save us from increasingly disastrous tempests, droughts, fires, floods, and even species extinction, much like the way a child leaves it to his or her parents to make things right. Unlike children, however, we should know better and must take personal responsibility, or we are doomed.

Governments have agreed to stop cutting down forests by the end of the decade. At the rate we are felling trees, will there be any left by then? Perhaps when we admit that most forests, particularly rainforests – our planet’s oxygen centres and natural flood defences – are being destroyed to grow crops to feed cows and chickens, we can silence the chainsaws by drying up the demand for meat and dairy.

Today, that’s hardly inconvenient. In our society, vegan “taste-alikes” abound – from fakin’ bacon to “chicken” nuggets, vegan caviar, faux fish filets, vegan sausages, and plant milks – and beans and rice are among the plethora of affordable, familiar foods that provide all the protein and fibre our hearts desire, quite literally. We may be conveniently oblivious to what we’re doing to animals and our arteries by clinging to our old habits of eating meat and dairy, in part because we don’t see into abattoirs or inside our bodies, but it’s hard to miss a house floating down your street. It’s high time we acted like grown-ups, took responsibility, and went vegan.

Ingrid Newkirk, Founder, People for the Ethical Treatment Animals, London

Fitting tribute

Your report regarding “Plans for Elsie Inglis statue” (4 November) suggested “Dr Inglis founded the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital in Abbeyhill in 1925”. Dr Inglis died in 1917 and it was mostly former colleagues who were involved in the foundation, named as a tribute to her.

Dr Inglis was born in India to a father working for the East India Company. She studied and worked in Edinburgh and was involved in setting up foreign based hospitals during the Great War. When these were disbanded, funds, supplemented by a public appeal, were used to build the hospital in Edinburgh bearing her name.

There a many memorial plaques around Edinburgh commemorating Dr Inglis. A statue would seem a fitting addition.

Alastair Murray, Edinburgh

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription. Write to us at [email protected]