Neil Oliver: We haven’t even got past Halloween but it’s already panto season at COP26
'Where’s the pandemic, boys and girls? It’s behind you!'
It’s not about what they say about it’s about.
That’s the line I’ve been repeating to myself for months.
Those that lead us have segued, albeit clumsily and obviously, from Covid crisis to climate crisis. All aboard the next fear machine.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific advisor, urges as all to eat less meat and take fewer flights, in order to slow down climate change. He said if we all do it, we can make huge changes. It’s only a matter of time before he gets out another of his graphs. My wife and kids haven’t been near a plane for over two years. This week one of my sons was invited, along with the rest of his class at school, to try eating crickets. It seems bugs and not burgers must soon be the dish of the day.
Meanwhile the little emperors have been gathering in Rome for the G20 summit.
US President Joe Biden swept into town in a motorcade of 85 vehicles, including his own presidential car, a 244-horsepower Cadillac clad in eight inches of armour. It’s called the Beast and is accompanied everywhere by a back-up car just as big. Apparently, the motorcade had to be even bigger than usual on account of Italian Covid rules restricting the occupancy of any vehicle to just four people.
One US president. 85 fossil-fuelled cars – who knows how many of them flown into Italy from the US specially for the trip.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the G20 attendees that what was required was, “more ambition and more action”.
Here’s the thing: the G20 could have happened via video conferencing. Mr Biden and the rest of the panjandrums could have stayed at home and conducted the business over the Internet.
If we really are in the crisis to end all crises and every second counts – then, surely, they should be holding vital, virtual meetings every day, over the Internet, without firing up so much as one private jet or the ignition of a single Cadillac – until the problems are solved.
That’s what we’ve all been doing, after all – staying home, staying behind closed doors, watching the skies clear of the contrails of jets.
But it’s not about what they say it’s about.
Absent from the G20 are presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Xi Jingping of China. China is responsible for a quarter of all harmful emissions, but Mr Jingping has said he won’t do what the G20 wants. Mr Putin and Mr Jingping will, however, monitor the G20 via video calls. Oh, the irony.
It’s not about what they say it’s about. It’s about control – control of us little people.
We haven’t even got past Hallowe’en but it’s already panto season in Glasgow. Where’s the pandemic, boys and girls? It’s behind you!
On Monday the circus arrives in Glasgow for Cop26. Over 100 private jets will be on the move, ferrying those special people who know how to save the planet. 50 percent of the troubling emissions from planes are from private jets. President Biden is coming too – flying more tens of thousands of miles in the vast hulk that is Air Force 1, to mumble some more about cutting carbon emissions. Those attending Cop26 from around the world face no vaccine requirements and need no vaccine passports.
Two vast cruise ships are moored on the River Clyde to house thousands of the staff that will run around after the tens of thousands of delegates. Power aboard will be provided by keeping their diesel engines turning, burning uncounted thousands of gallons of dirty old diesel for the duration of their stay.
But it’s not about what they say it’s about.
We the people need constant reminding, apparently, that the world is in a dreadful mess, and that that mess is all our fault. And now we must marvel at those special people, to whom rules do not apply, and who have come to save us from ourselves.
A fleet of scores of electric cars is on standby for the VIPs in Glasgow.
They have a day trip planned to the luxury hotel and spa at Gleneagles. A crushing shortage of charging points at Gleneagles – there may only be one – meant shipping in dozens of generators that burn used oil from chip friers, so as to be sure the fleet could be kept topped up.
I can still remember the calls, just a couple of years ago, to cut the shameful amount of plastic dumped in the oceans.
There were Tory MPs wearing masks again this week, on the benches of the House of Commons, wherever there was a tv or press camera, really. London Mayor Sadiq Khan keeps insisting mask-wearing is the least we can do. But the same happy, smiling maskless faces of Tory MPs, and Labour MPs and the rest, and that of Mayor Khan, are still to be seen in all manner of crowded, indoor spaces.
Because it’s not about what they say it’s about.
China – the China of Xi Jingping, who didn’t attend G20, that pumps out a quarter of the world’s filthy emissions, has been knocking out 112 million plastic-bearing face masks a day for many months.
There are hundreds of billions of them now. Each will take an estimated 500 years to break down.
Unknowable billions of them are on the land and in the oceans, fouling both, killing wildlife.
It’s not about what they say it’s about.
For reference around what people say and what people do, I look to St Francis of Asissi.
Born into wealth in 12 century Italy, he might have led a pampered and privileged life. Instead he gave it all up, gave it all away, and lived a life of poverty for the rest of his days, attracting others to his side and thereby establishing religious orders that have persisted to this day. He talked the talk – but he also walked the walk. He said there was a better way to live, a right way to live, and he lived that life.
I say those that would have live differently must do likewise. Be like St Francis. They must lead by example.
In the future they predict for us, we will, to quote the World Economic Forum, own nothing and yet we will be happier than ever before. Let me see the presidents and princes and politicians showing us that new way, and its resultant happiness.
Come on Mr Johnson, Mr Biden – Klaus Schwab of the WEF, Bill Gates and the rest of the technocratic visionaries who know so much better than us. Walk the walk. Let us see you surrender all of that cumbersome wealth, all of that troublesome property that’s presumably making you unhappy. Let us see you downsize to properly insulated eco homes. No more international travel or transport via fossil fuels. No more meat consumed. Instead of flying-in that plant food from thousands of miles away – those avocados, that rice and quinoa, restrict your diet to what grows close by your eco homes, and that can be transported to those homes in the baskets of your bicycles. I am open-minded. I am prepared to be persuaded of what you say.
Show me the way. Or am I right in thinking the life you have in mind for me and mine will never be one you will live yourselves.
Am I right in thinking you are all just hollow, bags of wind, self-serving hypocrites with your eyes on yet more cash, more power? Is it just same old same old, which is do as I say, and not as I do?
Until further notice, and until persuaded otherwise, I shall continue to believe it’s not about what they say it’s about, and never has been.