Article 81

How Can Cop 26 Be Other Than An Embarrassment For The UK Government?

As the Glasgow (Cop26) Conference approaches, the daily newspapers are replete with articles which question the wisdom of its stated objective of achieving net zero emissions of carbon dioxide from anthropogenic sources, given the non-sustainability of the costs of its achievement. However, in a timely article in the Spectator of 9/10/2021, entitled “COP out” and sub-titled “For China, the climate is a useful bargaining chip”‘, Matt Ridley recalls that ‘no previous conference in this series has been anything other than an unrecognised embarrassment’. By way of this conclusion, he recalls that ‘after all, the history of these conferences is that they cost a fortune and attract tens of thousands of well-paid activists who talk all night and then announce something so meaningless, they might as well not have bothered’; that ‘there was the Kyoto Protocol (1997) which everyone signed and everyone ignored’; ‘the Bali Action Plan (2007) which merely recognised that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required”; ‘the Copenhagen Accord (2009) which was just a bit of paper’; the Cancun Agreements (2010) which agreed to set up, but not to fund, a fund’; that ‘these were the ones that claimed to achieve something’; that ‘for a moment, the Durban conference (2011) looked different in that it agreed there would be enforceable emissions commitments by 2015’; that ‘nothing less than legally binding promises would do at Paris in 2015 we were told’; that ‘as Paris approached, it became clear that America, China and India would sign no such binding commitments, so some genius came up with Plan B: everybody would make legally binding commitments to come up with non-legally binding commitments to cut emissions’; that ‘;this was presented to a gullible media as a triumph’; and that ‘when he, (Matt Ridley), pointed out this sleight of hand to parliament, a government minister compared him to the North Korean regime’. Thus, ‘on the basis of these previous and as yet unrecognised embarrassments’, he (Matt Ridley) predicts that ‘the forthcoming Glasgow conference (2021) will be an embarrassment for the UK government whether it fails to agree concrete emission limits or whether it succeeds, because in the latter eventuality, it will have to present to the UK electorate, the reality of the costs of compliance which the UK media is already bringing to public attention in a very negative manner’.

As to the bargaining aspect, Matt Ridley notes that ‘China’s President Xi Jinping has apparently not decided whether to travel to Glasgow, or not’; that ‘this is not surprising given the fact that this is the 26th such meeting and none of the previous 25 have solved the problem in the manner they set out to solve it’. At this point, I interject for the benefit of my readers that no-one has yet demonstrated that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide do cause the effect referred to as anthropogenic global warming; and that whether or not this cause-effect relationship can ever be known to exist, the belief that it does exist has been sufficient to cause the effect which has been all 26 of the above conferences; and that this belief has thus far been sufficient to provide China with a very effective bargaining chip which Matt Ridley’s article also describes. Thus, in his opening remarks he notes that ‘the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, has stated that climate cooperation cannot be separated from the general environment of China-US relations’; that ‘this roughly translated reads as, we will go along with your climate posturing, if you stop talking about the possibility that Covid-19 started in a Wuhan laboratory, about our lack of cooperation in investigating that origin, or about what we are doing to Hong Kong or the Uighur people’; that ‘the Chinese Communist party is using Cop26 as a bargaining chip to keep us keen’; that ‘last month Xi announced that China would stop building new coal projects abroad, a key topic of my discussions during my visit to China, enthused Alok Sharma, the president of Cop26, while John Kerry, the US climate envoy called this “a great contribution”‘; that ‘in truth, Xi is throwing us a pretty flimsy bone’; that ‘he did not say when he would stop funding overseas coal or whether projects in the pipeline would be effected, so the impact on the world’s coal consumption will be minimal while the gigantic expansion of coal consumption in China itself continues’; that ‘already it has more than 1000 gigawatts of coal power and another 105 gigawatts in the pipeline’ while ‘Britain’s entire electricity generating capacity is about 75 gigawatts’; that ‘China burns half of world’s coal consumption’; that ‘according to the US Information Administration, China is tripling its capacity to make fuel out of coal, about the most carbon-intensive process imaginable’; and that ‘for reasons that are not clear, many western environmentalists are mad keen on China, despite its gargantuan appetite for coal and won’t hear a word against the regime’.

At this point in his Spectator article, Matt Ridley says that ‘it is only fair to ask what concessions Britain and America have made to try to entice China into being helpful in Glasgow, and whether they are worth it’; that ‘before Xi’s announcement (see above) the Biden administration put out a report from its intelligence community that concluded it could not be sure whether or not the virus came out of the suspected laboratory’; that ‘this report had all the hallmarks of having been watered down for political reasons’; that ‘Joe Biden, Kamila Harris, and John Kerry have carefully avoided mentioning China in recent speeches on human rights’; and that ‘recently there has been barely a peep out of the British government as the last vestiges of liberty are being extinguished in Hong Kong’; that ‘even after China’s government slapped sanctions on British parliamentarians, our counter-sanctions against Chinese Communist party officials or the (acquiescent) Hong Kong government are conspicuous by their absence’; and that ‘the COP has been delayed for a year which doubled its value to China as a bargaining Chip’ At this point in his Spectator article, Matt Ridley clarifies that ‘he is not suggesting that there is an explicit policy of appeasement’; but (merely) that ‘politicians would not be human if they did not hesitate when deciding whether to be even mildly critical on these issues at a time when they badly want helpful Chinese announcements on climate policy to avert a flop’.

At this point in my analysis of the situation, I am tempted to go further in suggesting that China on the one hand and America and Britain on the other are both using the current non-reality-validated belief in anthropogenic global warming as a bargaining chip in the current contest for global leadership; and that since the inception of this series of 26 conferences, the topic under discussion has been world leadership conducted through the medium of response/non-response to the belief in anthropogenic global warming; that there is otherwise no sane reason for so much attention being given to the debate of belief/counter-belief, when the ostensible issue could have been resolved long since by the acquisition and recognition of debate-terminating conclusive knowledge, and that such resolution has not yet been sought because a winner has not yet emerged in the current contest for world leadership. 16/10/21.

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