If we park the non-attendance of two of the world’s largest countries and greatest polluters, COP26 offered a rare degree of global unanimity on future industrialisation.
But as the leaders’ Swedish nemesis has pointed out, talking about doing is a great deal easier than committing to doing, let alone actually doing anything about meeting climate targets.
International conferences are understandably attractive to politicians: they lend a statesmanlike veneer to one’s activities and a sense of escape from the more tedious aspects of exercising power. They allow one to focus on those fundamental issues and great questions of what and why.
And then comes the boring bit. How are these promises to be implemented, what are the detailed timetables and the KPIs? How does one ensure that commitments made by one president or prime minister are effective beyond their tenure?
We might start with a focus on a key resource – water – and a key technology, namely pumping systems. Where water is concerned, there is simultaneously too much and too little of it. Too much rising sea water, thanks to global warming, is threatening whole ecosystems and nation states from islands such as the Maldives to Bangladesh, the world’s eighth most populous country. And too little water is available for safe drinking or industrial need.
Whether the answer lies in more efficient extraction, alternative sources or improved reclamation or treatment, the means will be provided by innovative process solutions centred around the various aspects of pump technology.
While the United Kingdom’s environmental dilemmas are vastly overshadowed by those in other parts of the world, our main feature on page 5 demonstrates that sector specialists are seeking new approaches to local challenges that help develop new tools that may be applied in many other contexts.
It is unlikely that pumping systems featured heavily among the vocabulary of COP26 attenders. Yet, now that attention has shifted from identifying broad needs and timetables to ensuring end results, we can expect perhaps a greater frequency.