Not only was Little Rishi backed up in the speaking queue behind Iraq, Mozambique, Kenya, Tonga and the Congo – he had to listen to Barbados telling him to up his giving game. Billions? That was last year. Trillions are the new billions.
Other speakers pointed out that we in the rich world had failed to make good on our pledges for £100 billion in climate finance. In the new world order, we will fail to make good on our trillion-pound pledges and they’ll be a thousand times better off. “I profoundly believe it is the right thing to do,” he said. He heard none of us who were shouting at the screen.
He went on to tell the COP that Britain had been the first major economy to legislate for Net Zero. He suggested that it was our leadership that had raised the proportion of countries going for zero emissions from one third to 90%. That we were going to reduce our emissions by 68% by 2030. Not a shred of shame did he allow himself for any of this.
Are we one of the rich countries anymore? It seems odd that the Treasury is agonising over a £50 billion hole in this year’s budget and Rishi stood there offering the world £11.6 billion because of something we started 250 years ago.
On the plus side, his was one of the better deliveries. He looked around. He raised his voice in places. Compared with his competition, he was Demosthenes.
The speeches of these world leaders were not like speeches at all. They were three-minute elevator pitches for money. In the monotone of text-to-speech programs they recited their various climate catechisms, shuffling a limited syntax around the vocabulary of victimhood.
They rehearsed their weather woes. Some had floods, others droughts. Their one common problem is money. We’ve got it. They want it. And our clerks and advisers and policy-makers who write the speeches and briefings that turn into regulations and laws – they want, for unfathomable reasons, to oblige.
Those of us with a conservative temperament tend to think of these COPs as purely gaseous occasions. But each time they meet, a ratchet goes round another notch. We get a little closer to some invisible administrative trick that will end up sending our industries away. A global carbon tax. Carbon borders. Carbon credits, carbon allowances, carbon trading schemes.
The showers of gold these schemes produce will change the world far more certainly and far more profoundly than will our gently-warming climate.