Conrad Black: About that ghastly charade in Glasgow

November 23rd 2021

And the West's self-flagellation over the climate Glasgow was as inconsequential as the Paris, Copenhagen and Kyoto conferences that preceded it

Article by Conrad Black published by National Post on November 21, 2021    

Last week in this space, as the Glasgow climate change conference (COP26) was wrapping up, I pointed out once again what a colossal scam most of the climate fear campaign is. A 1 increase in very approximately estimated world temperature in 120 years does not remotely justify the widespread hysteria on this subject in Western Europe and North America. Countless predictions of imminent climate disaster over the last 50 years have proved to be utter piffle. Yet the frenzy does not abate. Organized groups of schoolchildren march about accusing the world’s adults of inflicting ecological strangulation upon them. (We should bring back corporal punishment before we shut down the oil industry.) The Glasgow conference ended in a more ghastly charade than even I had imagined.

The eminent American historian Walter Russell Mead, writing for the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 17, referred to the 19th-century British historian Thomas Carlyle’s reference to an “Age of Shams” in France before the revolution of 1789, when the noble and clerical elites had a perception of current realities in France that were soon exposed as having absolutely no basis in fact. Mead wrote : “If there is one thing the world should take away from the Glasgow COP26 summit, it’s that the most dangerous greenhouse-gas emissions come from the front ends of politicians, not the back ends of cows. Pandering is much more dangerous to human civilization than methane, strategic incompetence a graver threat than CO2; and dysfunctional establishment groupthink will likely kill more polar bears than all the hydrofluorocarbons in the world.”

As the Glasgow conference was ending, the delegates of China and India, the two most populous countries in the world and two of the greatest carbon emitters and polluters of the atmosphere, who are intermittently exchanging fire at each other across their Himalayan border, closeted together briefly, in full view of the conference, and emerged with a substantial dilution of what the other 196 national delegations had thought to be the conference agreement. They agreed to a “phase-down” of the use of coal, from their present 14 million tons a day. Both countries will continue to increase coal use and production, but China promises to end its increases in 2025 and aims at achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. Of course, these are not serious undertakings and they don’t mean anything. China produces and consumes 357 million tons of coal every month and emerged from Glasgow effectively promising to increase that number for another nine years, starting with an increase next year of 220 million tons, or about five per cent. Russia, another major polluter that has treated the whole climate change issue with mirth and scorn, applauded the Chinese and the Indians.

The conference president, the United Kingdom’s Alok Sharma, almost broke down as he announced that what British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as a ”game-changing” agreement had been substantially gutted. Glasgow was as inconsequential as the Paris, Copenhagen and Kyoto conferences that preceded it. It is always the same script: all of the underdeveloped countries led by China, which hardly still qualifies as underdeveloped, demand their $100 billion a year from the economically advanced countries that have supposedly poisoned the air and water of the Earth and threatened the very survival of life by their egregious spoliation, even though the aggrieved group are among the world’s chief polluters. The advanced countries passively acknowledge their collective historic guilt, but prance about the conference out-doing each other in pledges to do better, as if it were a conference of unusually self-righteous reformed alcoholics. And while it is implied that some payment is morally owed to the underdeveloped countries, the circle is never completed by an absolute pledge to disgorge any real money for the world’s completely unrepentant principal polluters.

Simultaneously with the conference, the governments of China and the United States agreed to co-operate on climate change. Since the Chinese government once again demonstrated in Glasgow how complete its contempt for the whole subject is, this promise of co-operation may safely be assumed to mean that the United States will continue, at least through the present benighted administration, to make hideously expensive gestures toward carbon emission reductions, as China continues its “phase-down” by increasing its carbon emissions for another nine years. Historians of the future will wonder how the more economically advanced countries of the world ever allowed themselves to be seduced by the ambition to impoverish themselves to combat a threat that has almost certainly been overblown. Even the great Dutch tulip panic of the 17th century, where people would pay huge sums of money for a potted tulip, was only an orgy of public speculation, like the rise of the stock markets on borrowed money in the 1920s; it was not the imposition of official policy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared on election night, 2019, and often subsequently that climate change was Canada’s greatest challenge. This is nonsense. Canada does not significantly add to the world’s carbon emissions.

The chief impetus for climate change hysteria is the international Marxist left responding nimbly to their defeat in the Cold War and loudly cheered on, in this case, by the thoroughly self-interested, economically under-performing nations of the world, who sanctimoniously demand reparations for their own comparative penury, as if the West were responsible for the vagaries of geography and societal progress. Instead of dissenting from this foolishness, Canada proudly proclaims itself (falsely) to be a leader of it. It is of a piece with our continuing official self-castigation for outlandishly exaggerated past mistreatment of our Indigenous people and a ludicrous and jejune preoccupation with gender issues.

We are, as usual, following the Americans, who are wallowing and floundering in wokeness, national self-dislike and official incompetence and venality. But these trends are already despised by the majority of Americans and the United States is already beginning its return to world leadership after a unique and peculiar crisis of self-consciousness. At least that country deeply resents being a laughing-stock and making an ass of itself before the whole world. Canada, insofar as can be seen, has no such regrets. It bumbles on losing ground by most competitive economic indicators, complacent in its narcissistic and false morality, slowly disintegrating in its regionalism, with an incompetent federal government and ineffectual opposition. Never in Canada’s history has it so under-performed its potential and been so indifferently served by its elites. This will surely change, but the agent of change is not now visible.

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