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Monday, November 28, 2022
Letter: Saving our planet, one bloated conference at a time
Letter. Supplied

Dear editor:

One of the bigger news items of the past week was the COP27 United Nations Conference in Egypt.

With the stated objective of saving our planet, this is the 27th such annual conference (hence COP27).

Whether or not it saves the planet on its 27th try, it will likely have saved the jobs and political well-being of the delegates who were shown lined up to have their photographs taken with the president of the United Nations.

It was sort of like when kids line up to have their photos taken with Santa Claus, but these photos would not have been sent with a Christmas card to Great Aunt Matilda in Calgary.

Rather they’re published by the media back home in the country that was paying for their visit to the luxury Egyptian coastal resort, Sharm El Sheikh.

That area has a reported population of 73,000. The conference has a reported attendance of some 40,000.

Some attendees will be paying as much as $465 per night (well, they won’t be – their government will) at the Four Seasons Resort or $427 per night at the Rixos Sharm El Sheikh (“adults-only”).

Those at a lower echelon in their government might instead be staying at the Monte Carlo Resort and Spa at $260 per night or the Royal Savoy at $254 nightly.

Those are current prices in Canadian dollars. No indication of whether breakfast is included and these prices are obviously not for suites.

So, what does all this do for the environment? If all these 40,000 delegates and hangers-on flew an average of say 1,000 miles to get to the conference, that’s a total of 40 million airplane miles.

And since most long-distance craft have more than one engine, even if each plane had only two engines that’s 80 million miles of jet engine exhaust. Ah, the things that we do to save the planet.

Interestingly, there are three conferences that our own prime minister is attending in three separate Asian cities this week.

And U.S. President Joe Biden, having stopped by briefly in Sharm El Sheikh to restate America’s commitment to saving the planet, jetted off to one of those Asian conferences. And how many jet engines are there on Air Force One?

These conferences also attract a legion of media reporters, protesters, security personnel, and other camp followers. The reporters are looking for a story.

The irony is that they and all the other attendees are the story.

Haven’t any of these 40,000 people heard of Zoom and other electronic meeting devices?

When it was a popular meeting device during the pandemic lockdowns, global pollution levels dropped significantly.

But, of course, it doesn’t get you trips to fine hotels and “the good life” at seaside resorts.

Will we save the planet? Go figure.

John Sayers