Jean-Jacques Cornish

A good start, but is it really a beginning

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There was not much talk at my running club this week about the climate summit being hosted by US President Joe Biden.

We were concentrating on who would be getting in the next round and discussing the many ailments that runners tend to prattle on about.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg would not be entirely wrong saying our preoccupation with our below average athleticism at the expense of the United States reasserting its role as climate change leader after ex President Donald Trump reneged on the 2015 Paris Climate Change Accord is a sad reflection of a generation that does not care.

Actually as long as one is talking about reducing carbon emissions it is hard to be wrong.

President Biden told the dozens of world leaders remotely gathered for the two-day summit that the US will reduce these emissions by 52% by 2030. This will be measured against the peak level of 2005.

Canada and Japan also promised to reduce carbon emission levels by more than they pledged in Paris.

All this is leading up the summit in Scotland later this year where 200 countries will have report whether or not they have me their Paris commitments.

I have spent much of my more than half century in journalism covering such lofty multilateral gatherings ranging from nuclear disarmament, to destroying apartheid to saving the environment.

They get an enormous amount of ink, airwave and television time.

The delegates comfortably ensconced in the host nation’s best hotels battle through a maze of rhetoric until they  infallibly work through the final night of the conference to reach a triumphal agreement.

It is all words though.

Back to my running club.

We speak every week about ratcheting up the training miles and pushing the chairs away from the table earlier to achieve leaner and faster physiques.

These promises and resolutions are remarkably similar to what the Washington  climate summit delivered.

They sound brave and promising.

But until they are accompanied by legislation and implementation on climate change  and diet and exercise by my fellow runners, they don’t even get off the start line.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.