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Will Greta Thunberg be proved right about the outcome of COP26?


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The Real Mackay by Dan Mackay

Teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
Teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

The eminent yet controversial historian Dr David Starkey has had a right go at the climate activist Greta Thunberg. Starkey, never a man to mince his words, has claimed Thunberg was a “religious nutter” and has roundly rejected her ’end of the world is nigh’ predictions.

Thunberg, for her part, had previously claimed that given that the coal-burning industrial revolution had started in Britain we bore “an enormous historical responsibility” for the current climate crisis. This, she alleged, made us “one of the biggest climate villains”.

By Starkey’s assessment Thunberg was no more than a reactionary nature-lover opposed to all the trappings of modernity. You get a real sense of things heating up!

With the genie well and truly out of the bottle, it seems a once proud heritage for technical innovation has become, instead, a legacy literally turned toxic.

We have all watched the harrowing TV scenes of polar ice melt, satellite imagery of vanishing glaciers, the wanton destruction of rainforests, the ever-encroaching threat to species habitats quite apart from the immediate hazards posed by ever-more extreme weather systems on vulnerable communities.

It has seemed as if mankind’s insatiable and wanton appetite for global exploitation has known no bounds. Until finally the dire warnings from the scientific community about the threat of carbon and methane emissions to global warming and the very sustainability of life as we know it has reached this critical juncture.

We are running out of time, the nation’s favourite naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, has warned.

And so to Glasgow where the eyes of the world focused on the COP26 summit. Even Primer Minister Boris Johnson admitted it was our “last chance to save the planet”. Protesters parading in the streets of the second city of the empire warned: ‘There is no Planet B’.

And so they all gathered, the great and the good. Hollywood actor Leonardo di Caprio flew in on his private jet. Pop star Ellie Goulding came to save our “broken planet”. Quiz show ‘chaser’ Mark Labbett was there, if only to brand some delegates “hypocrites”. It was all getting rather emotional.

The Pope and the Queen couldn’t make it for health reasons. Other royals – certainly Charles, William and Kate – stood in to rally the troops.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping were conspicuous by their absence.

The Biden armour-plated entourage made a sweeping appearance and then a quick exit. Even former US president Barrack Obama turned up for the show.

And how ‘absolutely fabulous’ that vegetarian globetrotter Joanna Lumley should suggest a re-introduction of wartime rationing to reduce consumption and counter the effects of climate change. Aye, right.

The COP26 agenda was enormous. How to cut down our reliance on coal, oil and gas? How to reverse deforestation and to mitigate against the impact of greenhouse gases?

Equally importantly how to ensure world leaders would fulfil their agreed nation targets and honour pledges to pay the costs of protecting the most vulnerable?

Did the sums all add up? Greta Thunberg was quick to denounce the event as a “greenwash festival”.

Maybe in the war of words she will have the final say. Did COP26 deliver the goods or was it, as she claimed, another failure, “a two-week celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah”?


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