GLASGOW’S climate junket next month looks like being the UK’s political carnival of the year, measured by its security. Ten thousand police are destined for eco-duties, not only to ensure the safety of the delegates jetting in from all around the globe, but also to safeguard the rights of the many protesters who plan to attend.
Climate campaigners, led by Quan Nguyen, Scottish co-ordinator of the Scottish COP26 Coalition, are worried that an influx of officers from all over the UK will undermine Police Scotland’s commitment to the rights-based policing of protests. She claims that some forces are known for their heavy-handed tactics. PS Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins has been reassuring: ‘We will provide a proportionate policing response to any protests and are already engaging with well-known protest groups to ensure their rights to peaceful assembly and protest are met.’
Heaven forfend that they should be heavy-handed. Have the campaigners not been watching the M25 tea-party where police have been more concerned with the wellbeing of the glued-up protesters than the emergency ambulances held up for hours?
Boris Johnson likes to think he’s on the ball for this one. But maybe young Greta has got right and it should be renamed ‘Blah Blah Blah26’. As she said: ‘This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Of course we need constructive dialogue. But . . . it will take immediate drastic annual emissions reductions. Our leaders’ intentional lack of action is a betrayal toward all present and future generations.’
This was demonstrated at the latest Conservative Party Conference. There was plenty of blah etc, but for someone about to welcome the entire world to his eco-conference in a few weeks’ time there was pitifully little on his ‘immediate drastic’ measures to save the planet. His sole reference to ‘the ambition of Paris’ was a pseudo-romantic vision of renewable energy : ‘The other day I took a boat out into the Moray Firth, to see an aquatic forest of white turbines towering over the water like the redwoods of California, and you have no idea of their size until you see them up close, the deceptive speed of their wings, twice the diameter of the London Eye, their tips slicing the air at more than 100 miles an hour.’ Worthy of Mr McGonagall.
Johnson attended Pre-Cop26 along with the premiers and environment ministers from more than forty countries. This was the Youth4Climate summit in Milan at the end of September where Italian Prime Minister Draghi told the four hundred youth delegates that ‘you are right to ask for empowerment, to ask for change. Sometimes the “blah blah blah” is just a way to hide our inability to take action, but when you carry out such big transformations you have to convince people, explain that numbers, such as the increase of 1.5 degrees, are not something created out of the blue but are provided by science.’ This was further emphasized by the UK’s minister Alok Sharma : ‘Keeping the 1.5C future alive hinges on COP26 in Glasgow. So we must make Pre-Cop count, ensuring that we lay the foundations for successful negotiations and address the ambition gaps on adaptation, mitigation, loss and damage and finance, as well as finalising the Paris Rule Book.’
Every leader now wants to do a political selfie with Greta and identify with her message. Even Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer at confectioners Mars, says Greta is right. ‘It’s not about the target, it’s about the progress and it’s the actions that matter.’ To this end, the company, whose products include M&Ms, Twix, Royal Canin pet food and Wrigley’s chewing gum, has set out new science-based climate targets to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its business by 2050.
So, action it is. But what action? Greta’s war on oil is an especially naïve aversion. It’s not just the bedrock of most of our pleasures and indulgences, at some level, whether fashion, tourism, mobile phones, formula one, central heating, and yes, even Mars Bars. Without the benefit of oil, the nearly eight billion human beings on earth would quickly starve to death; not just without the energy to power the infrastructure of the agricultural industry, but more importantly to produce the fertilizers which massively multiply the output of its activities.
This degree of naivety, innocence, or let’s be blunt, sheer ignorance, demonstrated by the precocious engagement of the woke adolescentry, brings to mind the Children’s Crusade in 1212. In their fired-up belief that they could achieve what adults had failed to do and re-take Jerusalem for Christianity, they set out to walk there. Thousands died along the route, which involved crossing the Alps barefoot, or were captured into slavery. They never made it to Jerusalem.
Let’s see how far the COP26-ers make it. No doubt they will happily stick to the Glaswegian blethers of Blah Blah Blah, rather than venture into the unwelcome realities of the New Jerusalem.