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Climate change may be the most serious disaster to threaten our global environment and rightly concerns everyone capable of looking beyond today and tomorrow.

However, this is not helped by the likely failureof the impending United Nations conference on the subject, being held in Glasgow at the end of October.

COP 26, as it is known, is the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP, get it?) being held from October 31 to November 12.

The aim of COP26 is, supposedly, to bring together various parties to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Not that all is going to plan:

“…the UN, the UK hosts and other major figures involved in the talks have privately admitted that the original aim of the Cop26 summit will be missed, as the pledges on greenhouse gas emissions cuts from major economies will fall short of the halving of global emissions this decade needed to limit global heating to 1.5C.”

The Guardian, September 27 2021

That’s not just disappointing, it is an international disgrace

Of course, as important as the issue of climate change is, and with it the whole matter of global warming, there are many more immediate concerns for, if I dare to say it, the majority of British people.

The harsh reality of Brexit is probably the key issue with even some who backed ‘leave’ saying words to the effect of ‘this is not the Brexit I voted for’.

Covid-19 continues to decimate the country, albeit at a slower pace but the threat of Delta and other variants loom large and cannot be ignored.

Immigration still rates highly in the British mindset, but now it is more likely to be coloured by Afghanis fleeing the Taliban rather than EU free movement.

And these are just three issues likely to be thought more important than climate change.

Of course, like the crazy holocaust deniers, there are those who don’t believe there is a problem or, at least, not one that is man-made.

Strangely, the well-known and once-popular botanist and TV personality Dr David Bellamy expounded this view. Indeed, in 2008, he described climate change is “poppycock”. Dr Bellamy died in December 2019.

Despite such weird distractions, the vast wight of evidence and scientific opinion is that climate change is far from poppycock. It is real, it is here, and desperately needs a joined-upped global response – and needs it NOW.

And that brings us back to COP 26.

It is being held in Glasgow, so the UK must be leading the way, right? No, far from it.

Britain is chairing this particular summit, led by PM Johnson who said, in 2015, “global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation”.

Since then, though, Boris has told lie after lie, including those used to drag us into leaving the EU, becoming prime minister and into, but as yet not out of, the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, as we prepare for the Glasgow summit, he says: “The fact is the UK is leading the world and you should be proud of it.”

Now that is poppycock, to put it politely.

We Lib Dems held our autumn conference online in September and I felt privileged to witness a passionate debate on this very subject.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of every last detail which will, I am sure, be done by others. But I will say that I thought the debate was excellent and those who took part spoke with obvious expertise, enthusiasm, and authority.

Conference agreed that the party should call on the government, as chair of COP26, to carry out a raft of activities designed to make the world safer by taking real action to combat climate change.

Being just days away from the great gathering, what are we likely to see? Doubtless there will be some agreement that won’t mean a lot but will be hyped up as a major announcement of the great success of COP26 with Boris Johnson being portrayed to the British people as an environmental superhero. A green-clad caped crusader comes to mind. Perish the thought.

My concern, though, is that after the Paris Agreement, and now 26 global conferences, we have fine pledges to reduce carbon emissions and lower our use of fossil fuels, and so on, but Britain and many other countries are not on target to meet then.

The real worry is that people don’t know enough to worry or even be bothered. For too long green politics has had a ‘new age’ image of protesters facing developers or pipeline builders. Today, environmental issues have moved into the mainstream of British politics but are still seen by many people as new age and environmental protagonists as ‘green nuts’.

Ian Franks

Ian Franks