A fallen tree on a railway scuppered Cop26 travel plans – and that was the high point
Cop26, billed as our last chance to save humanity, went very well. Within hours of wandering into the summit, borrowing a phrase from Greta Thunberg, comparing himself to James Bond, and reminding cows, once again, that they really shouldn’t burp, Boris Johnson saved the world, repaired tense relations with Europe, put the French and the Australians into intensive couples counselling, and saved that oh-so-special relationship with the US.
Well, he might’ve done, but no one would know because no one could get inside the building. One poor American accidentally ended up in Edinburgh, and hailed his journey to the United Nations Conference on Climate change a success. It makes Rishi Sunak’s Burnley-Bury faux pas look positively reasonable.
In Johnson’s opening speech to delegates, he leant heavily on his “coal, cars, cash and trees” slogan to try and do the heavy lifting. In reality, it sounded like a quick summary of the 24 hour momentous journey to get from London to Glasgow. Thanks to a tree on the railway, all trains to Scotland were cancelled on Sunday. Some splurged cash to jump on planes, others sprinted to their petrol-fuelled cars (thank god that crisis is over) to make the dash up North. Others still, went the old-fashioned way and jumped on their private jet from the G20 summit in Rome.
For those who did make it to Glasgow, the sweet relief did not end there: the queues to get inside the conference hall were so bad, staff started shouting at journalists “not to take pictures”, blaming the UN Secretariat for issuing orders against Twitter. If only the Online Safety Bill had managed to make it through Parliament in time and the inevitable pile-on might have fallen foul of the new laws making it illegal to cause “psychological damage” to someone as downtrodden as António Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal.
As one Cop26 prisoner put it: “So you queue outside to check your Covid test, then there’s a queue inside like the one for customs before a queue for airport style scanners. Then there’s a queue for coffee, queue for lunch. There’s just no queue to listen to world leaders or take action.” Lucky it’s not “one minute to midnight” on humanity or anything like that.
Even for those who did manage to make it into the main hall, Johnson’s speech was apparently less than enthralling. Prince Charles, the eco-warrior of the Royal Family, was caught checking his phone as the Prime Minister wrapped up and Joe Biden was snapped dozing off in his chair.
It was a weekend of heartache for French President Emmanuel Macron after rumble with a gaggle of Australian journalists who, no doubt through some kind of immigration skulduggery, managed to grill him at the G20 Summit in Rome. Macron, like a teen scalded by the pangs of love, told rolling cameras that he knew Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison had lied to him. And that was only half of his agony as Liz Truss delivered a stinging threat during his foray into Glasgow to whip out a “dispute resolution mechanism”.
The only thing everyone was definitely sure to hear was the set of bagpipes ringing out through Glasgow, perhaps to distract from the smell of rotting trash left on the streets by the striking Scottish garbage collectors.
Elsewhere, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave a more dire warning than the IPCC report, that God would smite world leaders who failed to act.