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15 Nov, 2021 14:41

Here’s why COP26 was a total waste of time, money, and carbon

Here’s why COP26 was a total waste of time, money, and carbon

The Conference of the parties has been an almighty failure, regardless of how they try to spin it. It has proven to be nothing more than a talking shop, while reaching an agreement not worth the paper it is written on.

Moreover, the world’s leaders have been exposed as hypocrites prepared to lecture us mere mortals on how we should be living, while not practicing an iota of what they preach.

The sticking point has been coal, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. Although more than 40 countries pledged to phase out coal, China and India torpedoed the agreement at the eleventh hour.

Language is important in these agreements, and that is why China and India demanded the commitment to “phase out” coal be changed to “phase down.” This alters the whole meaning of the document and signals the reticence of the world’s two largest countries to revise their reliance on coal.

The chairman of COP26, Alok Sharma, was almost in tears when he apologised for the feebleness of the agreement. He has also said that India and China “will have to explain themselves and what they did to the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world.” This, of course, is not going to happen.

However, if I were Sharma, I wouldn’t be too bothered, and I certainly would be blubbing. The agreement is not even legally binding. So, whether the Chinese signed a document stating that coal will be “phased out” or “phased down” is irrelevant. It may as well have been written in invisible ink. As Lakshman Guruswamy, an international environmental law expert, said, “there’s no way of implementing, imposing, or trying to enforce a non-binding agreement.”

Every year, China burns a whopping four billion tonnes of coal, more than the rest of the world combined. They are also planning to build 43 new coal-fired power plants and 18 new blast furnaces. Do you really believe that China can afford to stop burning coal? Do you even think they want to? Of course not. Moreover, Chinese reliance on coal is increasing and it is expanding its mines to produce an extra annual 220 million metric tons of coal, up almost six percent on last year.

The Chinese and the Indians are not going to throw away their economic progress on the altar of global warming. Indeed, the Indians made it perfectly clear at the beginning of the conference that in their opinion, the developed nations should deindustrialise first before asking developing countries to follow suit.

The Glasgow circus has also revealed the rank hypocrisy of politicians. Joe Biden and his team arrived in Scotland on five planes and an 85-strong gas guzzling motorcade. He then fell asleep during one of the many rambling, apocalyptic speeches. UK PM Boris Johnson was caught hoping on a private jet to fly 400 miles back to London for a private dinner with his chums at the well-heeled Garrick Club.   

My favourite example of hypocrisy, however, concerns a politician of far lesser stature than the US president or the UK prime minister. I had to laugh when Phélim Mac Cafferty, the Green Party leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, was caught taking an hour-long flight from Heathrow to Glasgow to attend the signing of a declaration and go on a protest march. Again, it’s another case of ‘do as I say and not as I do’. 

A fortnight ago, I predicted COP26 would be a failure – so much so that I dubbed it FLOP26. I am therefore not surprised in the slightest that it has lived up to my own spectacularly low expectations. Indeed, I find it odd that for the first time in my life, I am in agreement with the doomsaying truant Greta Thunberg when she described COP26 as a load of “blah, blah, blah.”

At the end of two weeks, all we have is a non-legally binding agreement that has been significantly watered down anyway. In the meantime, the world’s leaders – and the leader of Brighton and Hove council – have shown themselves to be charlatans. What a waste of time, money, and carbon.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.