Having wasted seven minutes of my life watching Saint Greta address the Youth4Climate – yes, I know what you are thinking – there are only two conclusions to reach. First, she should have stayed at school to achieve a higher level of education and, secondly, third parties are clearly pulling the strings.
Here is the highlight of her speech: ‘Build back better, blah, blah, blah. Green economy, blah, blah, blah. Net-zero by 2050, blah, blah, blah. Climate-neutral, blah, blah, blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words, words that sound great but so far has led to no action’.
To be sure, she throws in a few random facts fed to her by these other parties. But the key part of her speech comes around the half-way mark when she declares that drastic annual cuts in emissions worldwide are required. Because the technology to achieve this outcome doesn’t currently exist – on her own admission – her solution is that ‘we will have to change’.
We can call this the hairshirt approach to climate change policy. Citizens will be made to change their way of living and endure lower living standards. You know the sort of thing – walk or cycle rather than drive a car (even an electric one), go vegan, outlaw aviation, rug up rather than heat the house, have fewer or no children, et cetera, et cetera. (That’s my version of blah, blah, blah.)
If it reminds you of Germany in the 1930s or China under Mao Zedong, you are getting close. And if you are also thinking that it’s hard to square the hairshirt policy approach to the workings of popularly elected democracies that is in fact the point.
Greta doesn’t believe in democracies because they deliver leaders who ‘drown her hopes and dreams in empty words and promises’. It clearly doesn’t occur to her that those same leaders may well be delivering to citizens with different hopes and dreams. But the arrogance of youth is preventing her from seeing anyone else’s point of view.
Now if I’d been sensible I would have hit the pause button at this point, but the last few minutes of her presentation are truly bizarre. It would warm the hearts of the leaders of past protest movements the world over. What do we want? (Fill in current fad) When do we want it? Now. It’s quite comical to watch the assembled young wackos, mainly with masks on, join in the poor-quality theatre.
It’s now odds on to a dollar that Greta will be travelling to Glasgow – by train, of course – in a few weeks’ time. All that adulation from smitten fans is highly addictive, no doubt. But the good thing is that Ms Blah-Blah-Blah will be able to meet up with Mr La-La, otherwise known as Boris Johnson, the current prime minister of the UK. Just think of the photo opportunities.
Spurred on by his new missus, Johnson is clearly living in a complete la-la land when it comes to climate policy, with his remarks becoming increasingly removed from reality. At the very moment when UK electricity bills have increased by at least a hundred and forty quid a year (the average bill is around 1,300 pounds) and seven electricity suppliers have failed in one month, Boris declares to the United Nations General Assembly that ‘it is easy to be green’.
What bit of the energy crisis engulfing the world doesn’t he get? Over the past year, natural gas prices have increased six-fold and thermal coal prices have risen four-fold. Natural gas supplies are at record lows in many European countries and the UK has essentially no stored gas, having allowed its only storage facility to close. Russia is playing hard-ball supplying gas to Europe but may be short of gas itself.
And here’s another example of the hyperbole Boris may have learnt at Eton and clearly favours: ‘The Glasgow COP26 summit is the turning point for humanity’. Talking about humanity, Boris once declared fracking was ‘glorious news for humanity’.
But that was then. Notwithstanding a large deposit of coal-seam gas in northern England, Boris caved at the slightest objection from the greenies and banned fracking for all time. He has swapped a reliable and proven source of energy for an unnecessary, shrill shindig attended by every green rent-seeker and paid-for climate bureaucrat from around the world.
Of course, for anyone who understands how these summits actually work, the points of agreement and the final communique are stitched up well before the event actually takes place. That’s why the annoying and none-too-smart president of COP26, UK parliamentarian, Alok Sharma, has been making much of the loose commitment of countries to refrain from publicly funding new coal-fired electricity plants in other countries.
What’s important here is the fine print. The Chinese government is happy to go along with this because private funding of these plants will be allowed and let’s face it, in China, there really isn’t much difference between public and private. Moreover, the Chinese government isn’t constrained in building even more coal-fired plants at home.
And then there is reference in the pledge to no funding of ‘unabated’ coal which other countries are interpreting to mean that such funding is possible if abatement also takes place. In other words, it’s unlikely to make much difference to the building of coal-fired plants in developing countries but Sharma will try to take credit for this ‘stunning’ achievement.
There is also the ridiculous commitment made by the US and EU and a handful of other countries to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent between now and 2030. Our own Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – whose staff generally regard Australia as a climate delinquent – was keen for Australia to sign on too.
When it was pointed out that such a reduction could only be achieved by reducing herd sizes by 30 per cent and cutting the production of LNG by a similar proportion – there are no technologies around that could make any real difference in that time frame – the response was that something might turn up.
In the meantime, both the US and EU are almost certain to fail to meet this target. But when it comes to these international agreements, it’s far more important for a country to be wearing the correct T-shirt – Net Zero Emissions 2050, for example – than to have any credible measures in place. Perhaps Greta has a point – blah, blah, blah.
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