“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Carl Sagan
On a clear spell in a chill November day in Glasgow, on Clyde’s bonnie banks, you can see all the way to the end of the world; hear the crack of doom in distant thunder, if you are Boris Johnson, climate denialist turned climate evangelist, who is a half-hour late to his own convention where he seeks to whip up urgency in curbing greenhouse emissions before we fry our little blue dot of a planet to a crisp.
“Eco-Warrior”, Boris, as ITV’s Robert Peston dubs the Tory PM, is a Damascene convert, an epiphany courtesy of third wife, Carrie, (much as our own ScoMo, architect of the unlawful Robo-debt, extort-the-poor-scheme despite his lies of denial, gets his Jen-lens to clarify empathy), appears before the multitude as a hot-eyed zealot, a mop-headed prophet who peers out over a choppy sea of greenwash as 122 (almost all male) heads of state and their digital wallahs check texts, email and mining markets on smartphones in the Twenty-Sixth United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, 31 October-12 November 2021.
Welcome to COP26, the curtain raiser for the last call for the End of the World, where trade fair and carnival seek to upstage our finest, noblest, minds, as a serious gathering of world leaders and negotiators is hi-jacked; press-ganged aboard the comic floating opera of a show, with a star cast including a grotesque mix of rent seekers, hangers-on and political wannabes warns Nine Newspapers Bevan Shields.
Thirty-thousand turn up -about a third of those who would have liked to attend -had there not been a pandemic to contend with. Or if transport were not an issue. Or they weren’t too poor. Or from the South. And if organisers had been able to provide wheelchair access.
Israeli Energy Minister, Karine Elharrar, who has muscular dystrophy, is left stranded outside in the damp, chill Clydeside air of greater Glasgow in her wheelchair.
Little wonder that COP26 is decried as the most exclusionary climate summit ever. What is surprising is that we expected better from a Johnson government. Like the UK PM’s opening speech, things seem flung together at the last minute. Or not at all. Boris is like our own PM in his tendency toward word salad when given occasion to speak. Both struggle to consistently produce joined-up thinking in public.
Neither seem capable of organising a cup of tea without a special commission of inquiry. Despite being host, Boris himself cannot even stay awake during the summit.
Unlike earlier COPS where leaders such as our own, Kevin Rudd, arrived late but stayed until stumps, working into the wee hours, drafting communiques and getting “ratfucked by Chinese ratfuckers” (Copenhagen 2009), most opt to attend the opening gabfest; get snapped and papped before they nick off early.
Or are laughed out of town, as liars whose polyester viscose pants are on fire as in Morrison’s sensational own goal with Macron, in which ScoMo leaks personal texts to prove how trustworthy he is, an act of duplicity helped by inviting Santos to set up its Carbon Capture and Storage disinformation display.
Seriously, how good is leaking a private text to a Murdoch newspaper when you want to win public trust and confidence? Little wonder Morrison rushes home to break out the Hi-Viz and hard hats, snag a gaggle of Nationals and head for mining electorates in NSW. Feel the love of the campaign trail.
World time is one minute to midnight by the doomsday clock, Carrie Johnson’s latter-day Cassandra, Boris, warns in press drops. Moments later, her prophet opts for a soccer analogy. “We’re 1-5 at half time.” Nothing prosecutes your case so well as a metaphor mixture of Christian theology and football paganism.
Yet Johnson’s audience fidgets long after the seer makes his late arrival. Why a thirty-minute delay if every moment counts? Perhaps, like our own PM, Boris’ policy-free abyss engulfs him. Brexit turns from heroic act of sovereign independence into an Aldi of empty shelves. Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have single lines of products to disguise bare shelves. Entire aisles vanish. Winter approaches with no gas to heat homes. No petrol is a worry but no beer?
At least Boris got Brexit done as his campaign slogan had it. But what of things undone? Is the human toll of his disastrous “Freedom Day”, 40,000 Covid cases and 200 deaths per day and rising getting to him? Has Johnson lost confidence in his own leadership? It’s not easy at the top.
You couldn’t blame Johnson for feeling mortified by his catastrophic failure to close the border with India. It has made the UK the Delta variant capital of Europe. Being the cause of so much sickness, so many unnecessary deaths, such suffering, must be hard to live with. Boris has blood on his hands. Scott Morrison and The Ruby Princess, Gladys Berejiklian, his Lady Macbeth, must suffer similar self-reproach.
The Ruby Princess is Australia’s biggest single source of COVID-19 infection.
Mortification and remorse, however, require a conscience. Maturity. A sense of moral responsibility. No evidence exists for any of this in the wanton Boris, who has more than deceit, ineptitude and egomania in common with his empathy bypass pal, Scott, “I’ve just learned not to care,” Morrison.
Boris may, of course, run habitually late just as part of his assiduously cultivated Bozo persona, a thoroughly postmodern performance artist, like our Scott Morrison, who stands for nothing other than his own self-promotion, but with an act of such wacky vacuity it disguises his political guile; his ruthless dispatch of his opponents.
We know the type. Our daggy Dad, ScoMo, loves to pose with Sri Lankan curry ingredients or a Bunnings’ kit hutch, he reckons is a henhouse, power tools or other products to pretend he’s a wholesome, homemaker – an aspiring tradie (amen) instead of a world-renowned liar, a bully and a climate recalcitrant.
“Morrison’s own worst traits have been on full display since Rome: the slipperiness, the spin, the smirk, the failure to listen, the aggression, the blustering self-justification, the shifting of grounds and above all the faux conflation of himself with the Australian people,” The Mandarin’s Verona Burgess notes.
Faux conflation? Deceit always returns to its master, as they say in France. Macron takes pains to distinguish his contempt for Morrison from his great respect for the Australian people.
L état, c’est moi is an apocryphal conceit attributed to Louis XIV, the Sun King whose power was extensive, as were his achievements. His palace at Versailles still stands today. Morrison and Johnson, on the other hand, are dangerous, vainglorious louts both at home and abroad.
ScoMo’s Glasgow sideshow is embarrassingly woeful. First up in the Australian Pavilion, is Santos’ Carbon Capture and Storage Scam, one key to the Morrison government’s net zero by 2050, a vow it boasts won’t be mandated. Delegates mock both display and plan. Malcolm Turnbull, who attends as chair of the Fortescue Future Industries, is scathing,
It’s “a pity” Australia had not signed up to the methane pledge, Turnbull points out and “a joke” that Santos had been given prime placement. “Look at the Australian stand – you’ve got a gas company highlighted apparently at the insistence of the energy minister, who thinks that our energy policy should be all about burning gas,” he says. “The whole object is to stop burning fossil fuels.”
Australia’s PLAN is puerile. Carbon emissions will be a thing of the past because CCS will magically start to work even though it’s been exposed as a hoax by the coal industry itself. Or someone will come up with something. Somehow. Hi-tech. The Micawber principle. Something’s bound to turn up.
Perhaps DFAT could resurrect Julie Bishop’s innovation hub, her “gorgeous little funky, hipster, Googly, Facebooky-type place”. DFAT paid $1700 for three bean bags. The hub has innovated itself out of existence, since her departure from politics.
Our painfully lame display is, ironically, juxtaposed with Curb Methane promoting The Global Methane Pledge to cut by 30% emissions of methane, a gas far more damaging being eighty times more powerful than CO2 in the first twenty years, which has rapidly increased its presence in the atmosphere since 2007 when CSG fracking became widespread. Accounting for 30% of methane released into the atmosphere are sheep farts and cow burps. The plastic in our oceans is also believed to be a source of methane but it is less easy to calculate how much.
Unlike CO2 reduction, a slow, process, public health benefits of just curbing methane would appear in twenty years. Climate in just ten. But Australia refuses to sign the pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Morrison’s gas-led recovery stunt, a front for Liberal gas industry donors to boost profits which is certain to increase consumer gas bills, on the other hand, will inevitably increase methane leakage.
Of course, Johnson’s got other things on his mind, along with the scandal of who paid what and when for the £200,000 renovation of Boris and Carrie’s 11 Downing St flat, (customarily reserved for the Chancellor), with its gold wallpaper at £840 per roll, not only, decadence itself, surely, but something which simply would not stick to the walls.
Much as Boris would love to stay, he can’t stick around either. Has to dash away; leave his own climate conference by private jet, to dine at the boys-only Garrick Club with veteran climate denialist and former Daily Telegraph boss, whom Boris appointed a Peer only last year, Lord Charles Moore.
Keeping your audience waiting half an hour, when your theme is urgency sends its own message. As does jetting away to dine with a chap who opposes everything COP26 stands for. Even keynote speaker, the earnest Prince Charles wishes his mother had been well enough to open the show. His father would be turning in his grave.
Whilst the peerless naturalist David Attenborough provides his own, uniquely moving, heartfelt testimony to species depletion and extinction in a warming world, Tory organisers might reconsider their reliance on the Royal family. Inspired and inspiring as it may be, to many, its circumstances and its carbon footprint are problematic.
England’s greenest royal spins his fourteenth century handcrafted feudal birthright as a model village, where six hundred, New Age loyal tenants tend self-sustaining, mixed farms amok with organic, free-range, hand-reared mutton, beef and pork.
Charles’ modern-day serfs put on a jolly good show of course. They’re a Potemkin village of beekeeping, cheese-making and weaving to pay rent whilst tugging their forelocks, “Thankee kind sir”, in rustic, homespun smocks and sturdy, handmade wooden clogs, the length and breadth of his Duchy of Cornwall, a modest 52,789 hectares which spill across 23 counties chiefly in the South-west of England where temperatures now can reach 31°C. But during Boris’ harangue, Charles frowns at his iPhone.
Is there a hitch with the 2,500 housing estate the duchy is to build in the Faversham countryside?
Managing to live on £20 million pounds a year is tough. The prince must provide £6 million PA for his heirs, for example. Luckily, his housekeeping money is topped up from the £90 million Sovereign Grant his Mum gets from government to help defray expenses the kids may incur on official business. Like COP26. There’s been a rise of 26% recently. Imagine that in the average worker’s pay packet.
It’s not easy being a Windsor. But a green Windsor is a real stretch. The Royals clock up 3,810 tonnes of CO2 a year in their combined carbon footprint, whilst their subjects average only ten tonnes. Charles and Camilla, alone, notch up 400 tonnes in their private jetting about hither and yon.
Yet help is on its way. Divesting. Coutts, private banker to Elizabeth II and family, promises to drop its investments in tar sands/oil sands, Arctic oil and gas exploration, thermal coal extraction and generation, and to reduce the carbon intensity of its holdings 25% by year’s end. Every bit counts.
On the other hand, special arrangements are made for a Queen “whose lawyers very recently lobbied the Scottish government in secret to change a draft law to exempt her private estates from a major carbon-cutting initiative?… [making her] … the only landowner in the whole of Scotland who doesn’t have to facilitate renewable energy pipelines on her various estates in the country.”
One does what one can of course. Charles’ fifty-year-old, Aston Martin is converted to run on bioethanol brewed from “surplus English white wine and whey from the cheese process”. Other cars run on biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil.
But Boris takes the apocalyptic view. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, (friends and family call him Al), Little Britain’s class clown in a fright wig and bespoke suit is Crosby/Textor’s current UK PM. Better late than never, he does his crowd warm-up gig at COP26, a liar’s convention where nations such as Norway, Australia, the USA and the fast-fraying Gordian knot of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, all foregather to feign public shows of concern and vow to cut emissions, while leaving minions to beaver away at home, licensing ever more oil, coal and gas for export.
If, like Boris, you are a bigwig, you try to snag a headline early, before you nick off home, to pat yourself and your pals on the back for saving the planet, as The Guardian’s John Crace notes. The whoopie cushion of UK politics, Boris does it with his clever doomsday crack and the odd, irresistible, fart joke about cows and methane.
Young delegates from several continents look on in “silent, muted, disgust”, reports The Civil Servant in The Guardian. Much of what Boris says offends his audience. But then, as Crace reminds us, Boris doesn’t do gravitas. “They had come for gravitas, and he was just too lightweight, too flippant, too obviously amoral for not just the most serious but also the only game in town.”
Lightweight, amoral Australia is already up and running in the breach of protocol and offensive behaviour stakes. The Santos stall says it all. Morrison is concerned purely with his own political advantage, linked inextricably to the fossil fuel industry at every level from staffing his own office to decisions taken by his Covid Commission, his government’s supposed gas-led recovery. But there’s ever the need for public, self-promotion.
Our own Crosby/Textor PM, Scott John Morrison breaks early in the race to the headline by releasing private texts from Emmanuel Macron when France’s President calls him a liar.
Morrison lies that the texts show that France knew well in advance that we were going to dump it for the US, ending abruptly our submarine romance, a dalliance based originally on a flawed plan to win the SA seats of Sturt and Boothby. Whatever it cost. Such is the making of our national security.
For Niki Savva, Morrison’s Nine News nemesis, the texts do nothing of the sort. True. But it is Scott Morrison. No-one expects Morrison to do anything but lie. Is Savva not savvy to the power of negative advertising? Morrison’s confected stoush with Macron gets him world headlines. In fact, he’s gone for the trifecta.
“In an extraordinary diplomatic feat, Morrison has somehow managed to have China, France and the United States offside simultaneously. It’s an outstanding trifecta, when the Chinese refuse to talk to you, the American President thinks you are a boofhead and the French President calls you a liar.”
Similarly, a clip of his talk to an empty room, Tuesday goes viral on Weibo when in a Freudian slip, Morrison urges “global momentum to tackle China” He means to say, “climate change”.
State-run Guancha.Com reacts swiftly to condemn Morrison. “He doesn’t have a passion to protect the environment but does have anti-China passion under the name of protecting environment,” its opinion piece says. “This episode is the actual reflection of his mind.”
As befits any convocation to save humanity, COP26 is beset with hi-tech wizardry. First up, is a manic video clip, the sales promo shock and awe, assault on hearts and minds type of attention -grabber, barely six minutes long so as not to tax the harried, multi-tasking modern statesman’s attention span.
“Action, this day,” concludes Earth to COP26 a frenzied splicing of fire, flood, freak tide and high wind climate change disaster porn, an offensive of Anthropocene woe intercut with lovely images of dolphins, kids, folk in ethnic rig and a magnificent, endangered, sacred, Kyrgyzstan snow leopard to offer hope.
Hope an endangered planet can rid itself of 28 gigatonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere in eight years if global heating is to be kept to 1.5°C. Hope we survive our coal-fired catastrophe begotten out of modern global capitalism and the fruits of cotton field slavery by an industrial revolution which began in Eighteenth Century Britain. Hope that we are not, already, beyond hope; a species so toxic we have triggered Gaia’s final act of revenge, our own extinction.
Sea levels are steadily rising, while freak weather brings heatwaves, torrential rains, wildfires, floods and droughts ever more often and each more dire, warn chief scientific advisers and presidents of national science academies of over 30 nations.
“Climate modelling indicates that with every fractional increase in warming, these effects will get worse with all countries vulnerable. It’s one minute to midnight by the doomsday clock” thunders Johnson, a hint of John Cleese as Headmaster, in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life chiding errant pupils of the Lower Fifth for being inattentive to his practical demonstration sex education class.
Boris is so excited by his own sententious exhortation that he is seduced into bathos; adding a gratuitous “and we need to act now.”
Wise men speak when they have something to say. Fools speak when they have to say something.
If only BoJo’s performative oration, (which some adjudge one of his best – OK it comes off a low base), remotely matched what his government’s actually doing in its recent humbugger of a budget. Or its re-opening of coalmines.
Neoliberal UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, dances to the beat of one invisible hand clapping. Tells Brits, their only hope lies in growth. Paving the way, he doles out more money for roads which he says will boost industrial expansion and a cut in taxes on domestic flights.
Jet engines add only two percent to our greenhouse gas emissions. Charles can easily squeeze in a few more trees to offset that. Brazil’s Bolsonaro can stop clear-felling Amazon rainforest. Or we just won’t buy any more coffee. That trade deal with Australia will save Britain’s bacon.
As to trade, however, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates the boost from the Australia agreement at around 0.01 per cent of GDP. Meanwhile, live data, on the other hand supports its expectation of a 15 per cent fall in trade with the EU. Brexit has been all cost and no benefit.
A stiff telling-off is just the ticket. Always change the topic. Imagine, the legions of dreary Heads; masters, mistresses and other public finger-waggers who have imprinted the need to chide on the subconscious of our Boris, a PM of Olympian ineptitude who, like our own Prime Hypocrite, Mendacity Morrison, makes it his business to lecture others on acting while doing as little as possible himself.
Of the $2 billion ScoMo boasts about for bushfire relief, for example, victims have yet to receive a cent, reports The Monthly’s Nick Feik. Its bushfire fund turns out to be another lie, a type of fiction, which boffins tell Senate Estimates, is a “notional entity”.
Morrison, a liar’s liar, attends Glasgow only to continue the fight he picks with France at the G20 – and to peddle fossil fuels. He puts out his stall as a fully paid-up member of The Coal Club. Standing up for The Australian Way means siding with other coal club members, more notorious, human rights abusers who make our own gulag of indefinite detention centres, our systemic, endemic racism, and our zeal to expand state surveillance and quash dissent appear trivial by comparison.
We join India, China and Russia in blocking a push at the G20 in Rome by the UK and EU countries to commit to phasing out coal production. Poland withdraws its pledge later. Our government floats a $250 billion coal mine funding facility.
To flog coal and gas at a climate convention takes chutzpah. Who else to help than road-show buddy, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction and sticking it to Clover Moore, Angus, “air miles” Taylor. Morrison plays the plucky little digger from down under who sticks up for his fair young country’s reputation against international depravity and that vulgarian, Macron’s ugly departure from protocol.
Our National Interest is at stake. Just in case anyone notices Australia’s a pariah at any climate convention. Our PM abominates sledging, as anyone watching Question Time can attest.
Several embedded hacks bag Emmanuel Macron for speaking English and daring to call our PM a liar, “I don’t think, I know” Macron’s immortal response to being asking if he thinks that Morrison is a liar. The utterance is unprecedented in public exchanges between heads of state. Attempts to explain it away as just a form of electioneering, a stunt to win votes at home miss how great a breach of protocol it is.
As Christopher Warren notes in Crikey, the narrative is now all about the election. It matters not a jot that the coalition’s disgraced the nation at COP26 with its shameful inability to come up with a policy to reduce emissions. It’s OK if it promotes business as usual for coal and gas because of CCS, a failed technology which puts billions into mining corporation pockets.
So what if it will settle instead for a plan to have a plan based on the hope that others will invent stuff? Not only have we got coal and gas in the mix, above all we’ll market it as The Australian Way. What matters is whether it will be enough to let Morrison just squeak an election victory. We must, at all opportunity resist this facile reduction.
An international laughing-stock who has given offence to three powerful nations, Morrison returns home with his reputation in tatters. His government will never be trusted by any other nation. It’s the most disastrous trip overseas ever taken by an Australian PM. Above all he’s been called out for what he is, a liar.
Morrison’s so used to lying at home and getting away with it given this nation’s tamed corporate media monopoly that he is furious that he’s been called on it – and by another leader, no less who has put the lie to his attempt to lie about his lie. The text the PM’s office released to media does not corroborate Morrison’s claim that France knew all along that Australia would go back on its word and abandon its contractual commitment.
While the UN’s COP26 may prove disappointing in its capacity to achieve binding commitments from enough nations to cut carbon emissions enough to keep to the 1.5 degree increase in temperature agreed in Paris, on a local level it has been of great benefit to Australia in exposing to the world the duplicity and dishonesty of its mining corporation puppet-government. Forget the hard hat and Hi-Vis, Morrison and his corrupt, rorty government of gas pipeline boondoggles and new coal mines are toast.