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Glasgow: Woodstock without the mud and music

Boris takes centre stage

2 October 2021

9:00 AM

2 October 2021

9:00 AM

Jumping in front of speeding cars and trucks on Britain’s M25 – you’d think those protestors could do better than that. What happened to getting glued to the motorway or climbing up some multi-storey building?

But let’s face it, the dare-devils’ pitch, ‘insulate Britain’, was pretty lame. It’s not remotely close to making poverty history or achieving world peace. ‘Get those pink batts moving’ must be their motto.

Evidently, Insulate Britain is an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, another group of wackos who engage in actions that cause maximum inconvenience to ordinary folk going about their daily business. I’m not sure who their advisers are, but it does seem a rather strange way to win over people’s hearts and minds.

I also found it hilarious that one of the UK founders is still driving around in her diesel-powered SUV. Oh please, she has to get her kids to sporting events during the weekend and how else is she going to achieve this? Walking, cycling or public transport is for other folk, you have to understand.

According to Insulate Britain activist, Zoe Cohen from Cheshire, ‘Boris needs to stop making things worse – with all their road building, airport expansion, HS2 white elephant and new oil fields – and get on with the obvious stuff like insulating the 29 million homes that need to come off fossil fuels. We can’t get to net zero if they don’t take responsibility for this. Only the government can make this happen’.

Mind you, these do-gooders should really do a bit of research. If you are going to risk your lives, my advice would be to aim much higher. Just think about it: domestic heating accounts for about 15 per cent of UK emissions and UK emissions account for just over one per cent of global emissions.

Even if almost every residence gets better home insulation – the protesters are of course expecting HM Treasury to chip in big time – the net effect on UK emissions would be very small, particularly absent forced heat pumps, and denoted as an asterix (too small to count) in global emissions. But I’m guessing that arithmetic is not Zoe’s strong suit, although she is a fervent believer in ‘the science’.

Of course, the timing of the insulation-promotion brigade is quite deliberate. It’s designed to coincide with the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference – referred to as COP26 (conference of parties) – to be held in Glasgow from the beginning of November. No doubt, Speccie readers are getting very excited about the upcoming event.

At this stage, it’s expected that there will be between 20,000 and 30,000 delegates. We’re not sure whether Greta will be attending – I think there is a younger girl now who has been stealing her thunder – but she has made it clear that she will be taking the train. Phew.

The Queen, as head of state of the UK, will probably need to be there. And there is even talk of that socialistic Peronist, the Pope, popping in. We all know he is a full-blown green lefty.

Some of the non-government organisations were kicking up a stink about the cost of quarantine for those from red zone countries and the need to be vaccinated. The UK COP26 president, Alok Sharma – pause here for justified groaning given his global roaming and grandstanding –has stepped in to guarantee that all the costs will be met by the UK government.

It could easily be a tad chilly in that fair Scottish city by then but, what the heck: when you are saving the planet, who notices a nippy wind or two? Expect many a corflute, various stalls advertising the wares of the NGOs and random demos. It will be a bit like Woodstock without the music and the fun.

Once a climate sceptic, (the recently married) Boris has gone full-blown green, which is a bit of a problem given some of his previous comments. He once declared that fracking was ‘glorious news for humanity’ and urged the UK to ‘leave no stone unturned,or unfracked’ in pursuit of shale gas. (There is a large area of England that would be ideal for fracking.) Several years later, as PM, he banned all fracking in the UK, not unlike the Victorian government.

He also declared his interest in the climate views of weather forecaster and climate sceptic, Piers Corbyn (Jeremy’s brother). That’s something Boris would also prefer to forget.

Boris has a lot pinning on Glasgow, with his international reputation apparently in the dock. He wants – nay, needs – Glasgow to succeed, even though the measure of this is extremely unclear. He spent last week in New York attending the meeting of the UN General Assembly spruiking the benefits of COP26 succeeding, even telling world leaders ‘to grow up’ in relation to climate matters.

Even so, he has only put the odds at 6 out of 10 of raising the full $100 billion per year – the target set by the Paris agreement – of donations for the UN Green Climate Fund from developed countries. (Sensibly, Australia doesn’t give money to this fund, preferring to use taxpayer monies to provide direct assistance to our neighbouring countries instead. What’s the point of funding a program on climate change and gender equity in Sub-Sahara Africa?)

While Boris may think he’s grown up on these matters, events at home are conspiring against him. While it is true that the UK has been able to cut its emissions – largely by sending a lot of its manufacturing offshore and installing vast offshore wind turbines – the low-hanging fruit has now been picked.

The plan to remove gas boilers as the principal means of home heating is in complete disarray and both the gas and electricity industries in the UK are in crisis. Gas prices have increased four-fold this year and retail electricity prices will rise by a minimum of 12 per cent in October.

They are likely to increase further  in May next year. It’s hard to see this going down well with the voters in the Red Wall (formerly Labour) seats in the north of England on whom Boris completely depends.

Recently, the situation became so desperate – there had been an extended wind drought – that an old coal-fired plant had to be brought on line. That’s very embarrassing for Boris who brags about the UK’s exit from coal, urging similar action by all other countries.

He can only hope that the shouting and haranguing by the Glasgow crowd drowns out that fact. It will certainly be drowning out most other facts.

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