Richard North, 31/10/2021  

Saturdays are the slowest days on the blog, so it's not surprising that our petition has also slowed down a bit. Thus, we didn't make our quota for the day, coming in short of 4,000. Today, the battle continues.

Meanwhile, the Glasgow shindig seems about to descend into farce as the Guardian reports on the squabbles between Johnson and Macron in Rome over fishing rights.

It is said that "scientists and environmentalists" are exasperated at the distraction, with the prospect that CoP26 would be derailed by the re-emergence of the old enmities between Britain and France, despite Johnson declaring that the summit would be "the world's moment of truth" which could mark "the beginning of the end of climate change".

Certainly, the Sunday Telegraph is completely distracted, taking time out from reporting on the end of the world (not) to tell us that Johnson is demanding that the EU "rein in" Macron, claiming that France's fishing threats show the Brexit negotiations were "not in good faith".

This, apparently, is in response to comments by French prime minister Jean Castex in a letter to Commission president Ursula von der Leyen that the UK had to be shown that it "causes more damage to leave the EU than to stay in".

Johnson got as far as a meeting with von der Leyen, to whom he complained about France's "aggressive rhetoric" and demanded an explanation of Castex's letter. This, it seems – in Johnson's mind – translates into a suggestion that the EU may not have been negotiating in "good faith" over Northern Ireland.

Discussions will continue over today, but whatever the outcome it takes the shine off Johnson's credentials as the great eco-warrior, set to save the planet. Even if this piece of theatre can be resolved, it will leave a nasty taste that is bound to have a hang-over effect.

But, as the climate worshipers gather for the great eco-fest, even Covid-19 is taking a hand, with Scottish Greens co-leader, Lorna Slater, testing positive for Covid hours before the summit starts. Sadly, she will not be able to attend the opening today, which could still turn out to be a super-spreader event, especially if the Delta Plus variant has taken hold.

One hopes that the 120 world leaders have upgraded their vaccine status, or we could be seeing some early departures. As for the plebs, we could be seeing the beginning of the end of climate change activists – not exactly what World King Johnson has in mind.

Such considerations, though. haven't got in the way of another happy little distraction, as we are reminded that the chief executive of Sky - one of the main commercial sponsors of CoP26, has been regularly commuting by private jet from her home 3,500 miles away in the United States.

Dana Strong was appointed in January but remained based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, close to the headquarters of Sky's parent company, the American cable operator Comcast. An industry source says this arrangement has meant frequent trips back and forth for Ms Strong on one of Comcast’s jets every few weeks until she moved to the UK in June.

Vital information for well-heeled delegates attending the summit, conveyed in the CoP26 guide and retailed by the Glasgow Times, are the instructions on where to park the private jet, something Prince Charles's pilot will be keen to know, as his eco-warrior passenger jets in from the G20 summit in Rome in time to for him to pronounce that the private sector must help with climate change.

The Mirror also takes up the private jet theme, laying bare Johnson's "luxury private plane habit". The prime minister, it tells us, has spent £216.000 on more than 20 flights on private aircraft since becoming PM, pumping 52 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The paper also notes that research commissioned by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy was pulled from the government's website last week, shortly after it was published.

The document called on politicians to "lead by example" in reducing their air travel, stating that "Actions can speak louder than words". The decisions of government and members of government "signals the importance, validity, credibility, and moral authority of the net-zero message", it added, warning that: "Perceived hypocrisy can do a lot to undermine efforts to build public engagement and support".

But it's not so much "perceived" hypocrisy, as the real-life, ocean-going, in-your-face hypocrisy that sticks in the craw as the elites practice the doctrine of "one rule for us and another for the plebs", without even troubling to hide their disdain for the great unwashed.

As for building "public engagement and support" for net zero, I am sure that the ringing of church bells did a great deal to call the faithful to the new secular religion, but it would see, that the Mail on Sunday isn't particularly bothered, to judge from its front page.

There, it features a "massive cyber heist", where a Russian gang has hacked into the records of "high society jeweller Graff" and is demanding a multi-million ransom or they'll leak the private details of the rich and famous. It would be enough, methinks, to leak their carbon footprints, assuming that any care to hide them.

Inside, though, the paper gives pride of place to Bjorn Lomborg, writing about "the great ecological delusion", pouring cold water on the aspirations of CoP26.

I met this guy at a conference in Aspen once, and he was far too much of a true believer for my taste, but he's nevertheless talking a great deal of sense when he dismisses the "implausibly extravagant policies" of the CoP summits, which have never achieved anything of substance.

However, he too is wedded to the magic wand solution, arguing for more research on green energy, suggesting that returns from green energy R&D are hundreds of times more effective than current policies. We will get to the point, he suggests, where the price of efficient green energy drops below fossil fuels and everyone will switch.

The trouble is that, as he admits, "we don't know how long it will take to find the breakthroughs that will power the rest of the century", but still asserts that "this is the path that will solve climate change".

Sadly, it is extremely unlikely that there will be a "breakthrough" of the type Lomborg hopes for, yet the vainglorious attempts of the likes of Johnson to solve this over-hyped "crisis" are also doomed to failure. And, even if by some miracle, he came up with a solution, the public would not be interested if it cost more than a fiver a week.

However, according to a survey carried out for the Mail, there is considerable unease about the prospect of the lights going out. Wiser leaders, who have good cause to fear the backlash from their peoples, tend to prioritise electricity production over climate change rhetoric, hence the attitude of China which is refusing to adopt net zero, as indeed is India.

This brings to the fore that these grandiose eco-fests are a complete waste of time and energy. With the refusal of the major emitters to cooperate, CoP26 was a failure before it even started.

Lomborg, in his time. was a great advocate of mitigation and, in the real world, that is probably the only strategy that will ever work, reacting to events as they happen. And, for the most effective response, we need a supply of cheap, accessible energy and reliable transport.

Ironically, the only long-term effect of the World King's new-found obsession with climate change might be terminal damage to our ability to deal with it. But then, that would be entirely in character.

Also published on Turbulent Times.

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