CHRISTOPHER BOOKER THE LAST WORD
For all the hot-headed talk of climate change, the world is still building coal-fired power stations
How beautifully symbolic it was that, when those 22,000 officials, politicians, green lobby groups and others descended on Katowice in Poland last week for the UN’S latest mammoth climate conference, they should find its exhibition centre decorated with neat stacks of coal, and were greeted by a band from local collieries.
Katowice is the centre of Poland’s coal industry, which provides 82 per cent of all its electricity; and, with the backing of the Polish government, the conference is jointly sponsored by local coal companies, of the kind the UN wants to see driven out of business.
Truly, this conference is a tale of two planets. It was opened by Sir David Attenborough warning that the world is now facing “a man-made disaster of global scale: our greatest threat in thousands of years”. Unless we “act now”, we face “the collapse of civilisations, and the extinction of much of the natural world”. According to Attenborough, “the world’s people have spoken”, and the world must respond.
The conference’s main purpose is to “get back on track” the 2015 Paris Accord, designed “to prevent world temperatures rising more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”, by eliminating fossil fuels, and persuading richer nations to pay $100 billion a year into a Green Climate Fund, to bribe “developing” nations, including China and India, to do the same.
As usual in the run-up to such UN gatherings, the climate industry has again gone into overdrive with all its familiar scare stories: vanishing Arctic ice, disappearing coral islands, “extreme weather events” and the rest – all of which, according to proper scientific data, are either not happening as claimed, or are largely explained by natural causes as part of the overall Modern Warming since the world emerged from its Little Ice Age 200 years ago.
The latter is true of claims that the past four years, coinciding with another record El Niño, have been “the hottest on record”. But as before after these natural events, global temperatures have fallen back by 0.4C, nearly half their overall rise in the past 200 years.
Much more significant than this is what is happening in the real world outside that conference centre (turned into a hothouse by locally dug coal). Not only does President Trump want to pull his country, the world’s second largest CO2 emitter, out of Paris, but now Australia and Brazil look set to follow.
The fact is that, led by China and India, the world’s largest and third largest emitters, the rest of the world (outside the EU) is giving a mighty two fingers to Paris, by continuing to build thousands more coal-fired power stations, exactly as it declared was its intention before Paris. As for that Green Climate Fund, it has so far raised only a few billion dollars, mostly pledged by President Obama before his successor turned off the tap.
So, for all those hysterical attempts to pretend otherwise (led as usual by the BBC, which tries to hide what China and India are really up to), Katowice, like Paris, Copenhagen and other similar UN events before it, is just another colossal act of collective wishful thinking. Next year’s repeat, scheduled for Brazil, has already been cancelled by that country’s new government. The one consolation from all this dreary and ludicrously costly make-believe is that none of it will have the slightest effect on the world’s climate. My wife reminded me last week of that poem by John Donne which begins “No man is an island, entire of itself ”. But how many of us remember how it goes on: “Every man is a piece of the continent, part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less”.
That might to some seem appropriate to our present plight. But, filled with foreboding, as some of us have increasingly been over the past two years, I can recall no words more so than those famously spoken to the House of Commons in March 1938 by Winston Churchill: “I have watched this famous island descending, incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning. But after a bit the carpet ends. A little further on there are only flagstones, and a little further on still, these break beneath your feet.”
Certainly in recent days we have more than ever felt those flagstones breaking beneath our feet. Only the dark gulf remains. 2
The Green Climate Fund has only raised a few billion dollars