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A Response to the Barrage of Frustration Aimed at COP28

I just read an interesting article by the Guardian’s author George Monbiot titled: “Cop28 is a farce rigged to fail, but there are other ways we can try to save the planet.”

In his piece, George Monbiot critiques the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), suggesting that the structure of such summits is inherently flawed.  To this point, I agree.  I stopped attending the COP when it became a global forum for virtue signaling. Last week I was at a conference in Paris and more than one person asked me “aren’t you going to COP?”  My response was that there are enough trade shows; we need to get down to business. That isn’t what this post is about, though.  I covered that last year.

Back to my point… Monbiot points to the continued reliance on fossil fuels and the consequent endangerment of millions of vulnerable individuals as evidence of this failure. He criticizes the COP28 president for their stance on fossil fuels, which he labels as a shocking lie. However, Monbiot does suggest that there are alternative routes we can take to save our planet.   To be clear, I am not writing this so single George out.  There is a lot of frustration out there, and he isn’t the only one writing pieces like this.  I have read several this past week and thought it to be a good idea to respond.

I want to draw on Monbiot’s recent commentary on the perceived shortcomings of COP28; it is clear that there is a need for a fresh approach to tackling climate change. While international forums like COP28 serve a purpose in shining a spotlight on the urgency of the climate crisis, the real key may lie in the implementation of initiatives to combat it. Projects.

Now, to be clear, when I refer to ‘projects,’ I’m talking about initiatives both big and small – from grassroots efforts to large-scale infrastructural developments. These projects, unlike discussions at summits, have the potential to deliver concrete results and measurable outcomes. In bypassing the political maneuvering and bureaucratic tangles often associated with international meetings, they offer a more direct route to action.

Consider, for example, the renewable energy projects Monbiot mentions in his article. These initiatives have the power to directly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Similarly, regeneration projects (he says reforestation projects so I corrected it), are another area highlighted by Monbiot, can contribute significantly towards absorbing more CO2 from our atmosphere. Furthermore, community-centered projects focused on education and engagement can foster a culture of sustainability, equipping people to make greener choices in their day-to-day lives.

The beauty of focusing on projects lies in their cumulative impact. Each initiative, no matter how small it may seem, contributes to the larger goal of mitigating climate change. When executed across various sectors and regions, these projects can lead to significant global change. The importance of projects becomes even more apparent when you consider that they account for more than 35% of global GDP. With such a significant investment being made annually, if these projects are managed sustainably, they could transform global challenges, including climate change.

Project manager and construction worker using spirit level

Projects also offer a platform for innovation. They allow us to try out new ideas, learn from our failures, refine our successes, and in doing so, find more effective solutions to the complex challenges posed by climate change.

So, while international summits like COP28 are important in setting agendas and encouraging cooperation, we must recognize the power of projects in driving meaningful action against climate change. It is through these tangible initiatives that we can translate our words into actions, our plans into projects, and our hopes into realities. The fight against climate change will not be won solely in conference halls, but in the fields, factories, cities, and homes where these projects take shape. Let’s embrace this approach and truly make a difference.

Want some free tools to get you started?  How about our free P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and the micro course that goes with it?

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

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