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by Louise Wilson
14 November 2021
Sketch: More double-0 weapon than 007

Credit: Iain Green

Sketch: More double-0 weapon than 007

It was billed as the most important climate change conference ever. The last best chance of averting climate catastrophe. So who does the UK send to open this momentous occasion? A jester and a prince.

The name’s Johnson. Boris Johnson. Opening COP26 in the home of Scotland’s “most globally famous fictional son”, he told delegates: “We are in roughly the same position, my fellow global leaders, as James Bond.”

The man who is less James Bond than James Blonde warned of the “red digital clock [that] ticks down remorselessly to a detonation that will end human life as we know it”.

“Except that the tragedy is that this is not a movie,” he added with disappointment, presumably because it won’t all be wrapped up nice and neat within two hours. He does not have a particularly long attention span, after all.

“Get serious about climate change,” the man who had just made repeated references to 007 told world leaders. We must not Live and Let (the planet) Die.

But a scarier prospect than climate change was raised by the Prime Minister next. “In 2060, I will be a mere 94 years old, even if I’m not still in Downing Street – you never know.” It was a rare glimpse into his mind; he might just not bother retiring, hold onto power for as long as he can, become some mad autocrat with absolute power. Latest polling: Con (+7).

And it wouldn’t be a Boris Johnson best man speech if he couldn’t crowbar in his favourite climate fact. “Two weeks from now… cows will still belch in their pastures – even if some brilliant Kiwi scientists are teaching them to be more polite”. Our Prime Minister is a toddler in a suit, gleefully clapping at the idea of cow burps.

But apparently he’s not the only member of the upper class who can’t stop talking about bodily functions. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has reportedly become obsessed with the wind power of one particular US citizen – President Joe Biden was apparently suffering from flatulence at the world leaders’ dinner. “It was long and loud and impossible to ignore,” a source told the Mail on Sunday. “Camilla hasn’t stopped talking about it.”

Oh dear. Perhaps her husband, our future head of state, could bring some decorum back to proceedings – though things didn’t get off to a great start for Prince Charles when he tripped up the stairs while getting onto the stage.

But he quickly recovered and began making grave warnings: “With a growing global population creating ever increasing demand on the planet’s finite resources, we have to reduce emissions urgently.” Though, some of us put a bit more of a burden on the planet’s finite resources than others, don’t they Charles? That the warning came from a member of the household who earlier this year intervened in the Scottish Parliament to ensure Balmoral was exempt from green heating legislation seemed to strike no one as ironic.

To be fair to His Royal Highness, he did go on to talk about the importance of nature and he certainly has a keen interest in protecting the common but rarely spotted Black Spider (memos).

Later that day, President Biden urged all the nations of the world to “commit to coming together” to tackle climate change. “We can do this, we just have to make a choice to do this.” Which is why the US made the choice not to sign the agreement on ending coal. Or maybe he just wasn’t awake when that deal was made – to be fair to Sleepy Joe, he was probably suffering from jet lag.

He ended his speech: “May God save the planet.” There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about what ‘making a choice’ to save the planet means. It isn’t relying on an omnipotent diety. God did, after all, simply let the planet flood once. I don’t see any sign of an Ark this time, especially not one being built on time and on budget at the Clyde’s shipyards.

After all this grandiosity from our world leaders, what did they achieve at the end of the two days? According to Johnson, we had “pulled back a goal or perhaps even two. I think we’re going to be able to take this thing to extra time”. He really is a man of the people.

But he also warned against becoming too enthusiastic. We “must take care to guard against false hope,” he said, which is why he left Glasgow immediately after the press conference, despite the UK Government literally hosting COP for 12 more days.

Don’t worry though, he’ll be following everything from his (non-John Lewis) armchair. “I’ll be watching proceedings very closely to make sure we keep moving forward and there are no U-turns, no sliding back,” he said.

“We’ve got a bomb disposal team on site and they’re starting to snip the wires. I hope some of the right wires.” Isn’t that reassuring?

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