“The UN’s COP process is almost as dead as its deeply dishonest posturing about ‘keeping 1.5°C alive’…. With the COP process itself on life support, surely it’s time to change tack….”
“The sight of 80,000+ delegates unwittingly providing credibility to the fossil fuel incumbency that COP now unapologetically represents, has become sickening. Stay away. Call it out. Tell the truth.”
– Jonathan Porritt (below)
At least some climate crusaders are realistic in the lack of progress in the mitigation policy designed to dislodge consumer-driven, taxpayer-neutral energies (oil, gas, and coal) and substitute politically correct, inferior ones (wind, solar, batteries). It all gets back to energy density, a fundamental concept that climate activists do not want to understand (or do understand, but want pure de-industrialization).
A recent post by “sustainability campaigner and writer” Jonathan Porritt, “From COP 28 to COP 29” (January 4, 2024), has a number of realistic points regarding politics, while clinging to the narrative that Net Zero is achievable and at hand. It brings to mind what James Hansen said about the Paris Climate Accord back in 2015:
It’s a fraud really, a fake. It’s just bullshit for them to say: “We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.” It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.
Back to Jonathan Porritt. Here is much of his post (with my subtitles added):
COP 28 limped to its predictably calamitous conclusion on December 13th. The heavily spun headline (“historic breakthrough”) quickly dribbled away into the sands of Dubai, to be replaced by more “balanced” commentaries from governments, businesses and some mainstream NGOs. Three weeks on, even that laboured balancing act now looks either totally naïve or deeply dishonest.
The “historic breakthrough” boiled down to one simple fact: that the final COP 28 Agreement refers explicitly to the burning of fossil fuels as the primary cause of today’s climate breakdown – the first time that has happened in 30 years of futile climate diplomacy.
It gets worse. I won’t weary you with the forensic details of how critical sections of the Agreement have been worded to minimise any serious impact on petrostates and fossil fuel companies. It’s so full of loopholes, weasel words, and vacuous generalisations, let alone unlimited boosterism for all-but-useless technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage, as to fast track this Agreement instantly into the pantheon of toxic suicide notes.
Fake Progress for PR
Every Government delegation will have known that as they watched that gavel come down on the final text on December 13th. Some will have felt “job done”; others “game over”. Every business delegation, messing around in the margins of COP 28 trying to be useful, will also have known this. But will have avoided talking about it, assiduously averting their eyes from the monstrous heap of Emperors’ clothes in the corner.
Worst of all, every NGO with any serious knowledge of the gap between what the science tells us today and the policies now needed to narrow that gap, will have known this. But they held dutifully to the line that COP 28 demonstrated “real progress” ….
My criticism here applies just as much to those NGOs as to all those government delegations and businesses enjoying the latest COP tourism offer. They’re either totally naïve or deeply dishonest.
And I hate to have to say this, but that particularly applies to many of those “stubborn optimists” or “resolute climate solutionists” who still cannot accept just how fast things are changing around the world. … [T]hey continue, COP after COP, to offer up a “solutions agenda” that they know means very little faced with the raw power of today’s fossil fuel incumbency….
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that the work of these organisations (including Forum for the Future) isn’t still critical: it is. In fact, it’s going to be even more critical over the next few years. People do indeed need to know that the transition away from fossil fuels is both necessary and absolutely doable – in a remarkably short period of time. That’s still the central premise of all the talks I’m doing these days.
But to remain both honest and effective, we solutionists must now preface that authentic solutions agenda, on every possible occasion, with this harsh and sometimes unbearable set of truths:
I know a lot of my colleagues in both the NGO and business worlds will resent these comments: “unreasonable”, “hectoring”, “extremist” – these are just a few of the responses I get these days. But where, I ask you, have reasonable, calm, middle-of-the-road voices got us over the last 30 years? Irrefutably, just a whole lot closer to that point where we find ourselves tipped over into irreversible climate change.
There’s too much political naivety at the heart of today’s solutions agenda. Do any of these genuinely caring, passionately committed, reasonable solutionists seriously think that today’s fossil fuel incumbency (embedded so deeply in both governments and the whole global business community) gives a flying fuck about what they think, say or do?
I understand why few of my erstwhile colleagues will be keen to join me in taking a different path – in advocating on behalf of those who believe that civil disobedience is now the only way forward: Just Stop Oil, XR and so on. For those of us who’ve worked inside “the system” (as I have done since stepping down as Director of Friends of the Earth in 1990), it’s deeply uncomfortable to have to acknowledge how little real impact we’ve made during that time – both on the climate and the biodiversity fronts. There have been so many dead horses that we should have stopped flogging a long time ago.
For me personally, that realisation kicked in around 2010, when the Tories came back into power, and even more definitively after 2015. It was clear then that there is no accommodation to be had with ideological zealots of that ilk, still locked in a deadly embrace with an industry that will go on prioritising shareholder dividends over the future of life on Earth – until we stop them….
Yes: Government delegations, businesses, and NGOs “enjoying the latest COP tourism offer [are] either totally naïve or deeply dishonest.”
Yes: Fossil fuel companies are part of the Climate Industrial Complex.
True: Carbon capture and storage is a boondoggle, but that’s what you get by politicizing energy. ‘Big Oil’ is part of the Industrial Climate Complex, indeed. Greenwashers, too.
Think: “… fossil fuel incumbency” is about energy density and consumers. It is not some accident or artificial construct created by a vast conspiracy of some sort.
Wrong: “… the transition away from fossil fuels is both necessary and absolutely doable.”
Good News: Temperatures are leaving the COP goals of 1.5C and even 2.0C in the dust. And the world will do just fine so long as climate policy does not prevent adaptation to climate change.
A Plea to Climate Alarmists Be Realistic and Happier
When will the likes of Jonathan Porritt shed their deep-ecology skin to realize that politics is the wrong answer; that industrial wind and solar are threats to the living space; that CO2 is not a pollutant but beneficial to global greening; that climate-model extreme scenarios are just that; and wealth-is-health adaptation is the way of the future–as it has been in the past.
Stay radical but get real. Reject the Climate Industrial Complex for freedom from Statism and for human betterment. No more COPs, greenwashing, fossil-fuel boondoggles.