Bad Cop, Good Cop…

“Why do I have to clean my room?” whines Tom. “Dad doesn’t make me do it before I go to football.” 

Are you and your spouse – or were you – ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ parents? Whereas Tom’s dad appears friendly, indulgent and relaxed about the rules, his mum appears strict and particular, always perceived as nagging.

You could almost believe our world leaders have been practicing something similar. Very little positive could be said about the outcomes from COP27, the Climate Change conference, other than the agreement to create the Loss And Damage Fund. However this Bad COP was followed in December by COP15, the UN Biodiversity Conference. By recent standards this was a Good Cop. It was convened because of alarm over the ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ that humankind’s activities are now causing throughout the natural world.

The conference was the result of 4 years’ preparation, with numerous delays and postponements due to Covid. It was originally due to be held in Kunming, China, but was instead held in two parts, the first being a virtual conference in October 2021, the second part face-to-face in Montreal. The conference ended with 5 major agreements.

  1. Governments committed to conserve 30% of the Earth for nature by 2030. As the Guardian says, ‘The language emphasises the importance of effective conservation management to ensure wetlands, rainforests, grasslands and coral reefs are properly protected, not just on paper.’
  2. Indigenous rights lie at the heart of conservation. It’s the original inhabitants of – for example – rainforest areas who know best how to manage them, yet so often they’ve been mistreated, abused and ‘relocated’. They were out in force making their point at the conference! (see picture below)
  3. Reform of environmentally harmful subsidies. Did you know that the world spends $1.8 TRILLION each year subsidising the annihilation of wildlife and promoting global heating? Example: logging the Amazon. The Guardian reports that ‘governments have now agreed on the importance of making a change’. Hmm….watch this space…
  4. Nature disclosures for businesses. Large and transnational companies will have to disclose ‘their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity’. The corporate world is waking up to its dependency on the natural world. Investors are likely to put pressure on companies to take this seriously. Several countries are already developing rules for sustainable sourcing, for example of palm oil and rubber. 
  5. A way forward on digital biopiracy. From now on, you can’t just fly into a poor country, take samples from trees and rare plants, go back home, develop a new drug and sell it at a profit. You have to recognise and reward the country of origin.  

This last point, about financial support for developing countries, is highly relevant. The whole deal was almost scuppered because the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is home to the world’s second-largest tropical forest, wouldn’t sign. Not until the conference president, Huang Runqui from China, agreed to recognise the need to work out a package to support nations who will need to make sacrifices to implement the deal. In the end, the package was ‘agreed in principle’, and the DRC supported the final text.   

In my most recent post about COP27 (‘too late for Planet Earth?’) I could find few grounds for optimism, and I contrasted this with Hope, which springs from a deeper place. Well, I actually felt optimistic after reading the very positive report on COP15 in the Guardian, a newspaper that isn’t normally upbeat, and is slow to praise governments. I remind myself that:

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
(Psalm 24 verse 1)

I reflect that God’s creation isn’t confined to the natural world, but also to its people, and it should come as no surprise that so many are making heroic efforts to ‘save creation’. For the indigenous protestors to scientists, inventors, diplomats, politicians, writers; for those companies adopting greener processes and sustainable raw materials…

Thank you, Lord! 

5 thoughts on “Bad Cop, Good Cop…

    1. Absolutely, Sue! Did you follow the story that Friends of the Earth took our government to court over their Net Zero strategy because it was woefully inadequate? As a result, the Government has been served with an injunction to publish a meaningful strategy by March this year.


  1. I find all this somewhat overwhelming John. But God reminded me this week that despite the effects of climate change & financial instability, his nature, which is faithfulness, remains unchanging


    1. Thanks Sally, I often listen to people who find the bad news and future gloom overwhelming. I think our challenge as people of faith is to learn to trust God’s faithfulness exactly as you describe. I believe we’ve got good news to share as never before with an increasingly anxious world, where hearts are ‘fainting in fear’. (Luke 21 vs 26)


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