By William J. Furney
With the leader of the world’s most polluting country snubbing the climate change conference now under way in Scotland, as it helps to fast-destroy our planet — just as it did with the world’s economies, owing to novel coronavirus and subsequent, heavy handed cover-ups and an ongoing refusal to cooperate with global health authorities to pinpoint the origin of the deadly bug — few are expecting much out of the COP26 gathering in damp Scotland.
Except, perhaps, and almost surely, a lot of hot air.
The delegates, including US President Joe Biden and India’s Narendra Modi, could have saved themselves a lot of bother — and carbon emissions — by staying at home and doing the talking online. Which is exactly what the toxic Chinese dictatorship, under Xi Jinping, is doing, and he won’t be dialing in either. Beijing is not interested in the state of the climate, or other countries, because the cold-hearted mandarins ruling the country have vast financial reserves (estimated at around $3.4 trillion in foreign exchange holdings, the most of any country) and their 1.4 billion people under total control, by denying them basic information and rights.
The irony of unleashing many thousands of tons in carbon emissions into a life-sustaining atmosphere already severely burdened by human activity was lost on delegates as they whizzed through the skies and burned up yet more damaging fossil fuels. There was talk the confab might be held via video, but some felt — insisted — they could do more by meeting in-person.
For who would want to Zoom from boring old home when you can get an all-expenses-paid, first class trip and indulge in 5 Star accommodation and wining and dining luxuries for two weeks, even if it’s in soggy Scotland? No one’s venturing outside to look at the weather anyway.
President Biden’s carbon footprint for the trip across the pond will certainly be the highest of any head of state, owing to the absurd number of vehicles and aircraft the White House has brought to Europe — a staggering 85 gas-guzzling SUVs, vans and limos in a drive-up to the Vatican, to see the pope. It’s thought the US delegation will have belched 2.2 million pounds of carbon into the air by time the leader of the free world returns to Washington.
Angry environmental activist Greta Thunberg took the train to the climate talks, and was mobbed on her arrival in Glasgow by besotted fans who treated the Swedish 18-year-old, who is still school-striking, like a rock star.
Speaking from the Colosseum in Rome, where he was attending a G20 summit of leaders, Boris Johnson said the Scottish affair was the last chance to save humanity from a global catastrophe that was already happening, and that failure to arrest soaring greenhouse gas levels could send the world into a new “Dark Ages”.
“Civilisation could go backwards and history could go into reverse,” the British prime minister told Channel 4 News. “Here we are in the Colosseum of Vespasian, the Roman Empire — they weren’t expecting it and they went into reverse. We had a Dark Ages. It’s important to remember things can get dramatically worse.”
Even the British queen, currently on orders to rest, after overdoing it with a series of recent events, said recently it was “irritating” that world leaders were all talk and no action on climate change. But with her many massive castles and their gargantuan energy needs, the 95-year-old monarch is hardly in a position to complain.
Neither is Asia.
While the rest of the world is scrapping coal as a means to produce electricity, for example, some Asian countries are ramping up their coal usage. Nearly 200 coal-fired power plants are under construction in the region, almost half of them — 95 — in China while India is building 28 and Indonesia, 23, according to the Global Energy Monitor, a US-based non-governmental organisation that tracks fossil fuel consumption.
And no one wants to acknowledge the outsize elephant in the room: the destructive meat and dairy industries that have one of the largest carbon footprints and that a plant-based diet is one of the best ways of cutting carbon emissions and helping to save the planet. Few among us have the stomach to make the life-saving change, and almost all of circa 30,000 people attending the Glasgow conference will undoubtedly be scoffing steaks, meat-based burgers, roast dinners, bacon-and-sausage breakfasts and many other animal- and dairy-derived products throughout the duration — again, and just like all that airborne and other travel to get there and back, blithely unaware of their steep hypocrisy.
If the organisers of this latest climate talking shop — surprise: the self-serving United Nations and its self-important, do-nothing staff on massive salaries and constantly flying around the world — wanted to garner public support, at the very least they could have given it a public-friendly name, not yet another meaningless acronym, COP (for Conference of the Parties). There have been 25 of these so far, and we’re in a more alarming state than ever, with a planet 1.1C hotter than before all the endless, failed discussions began and rising numbers of deadly heatwaves and storms.
So for all the posturing, gabbing and grand plans, the world is cataclysmically worse off, and scientists’ warnings that carbon emissions must be halved by 2030 to prevent planetary disaster will almost surely go unheeded.