As on-the-nose metaphors go, the entirety of Britain’s climate class being unable to get to Glasgow on time because of a tree falling onto the train tracks is right up there. Let us hope it is not an omen for the rest of the Cop-26 conference.
Our expectations are, to be frank, low. It is difficult to foresee a fortnight that doesn’t descend into talking-shop gesture politics, complete with a high-minded but vague communique the main result.
It remains the case that China’s unwillingness to seriously engage on global solutions to climate change renders a lot of the work done by the rest of the world somewhat meaningless, and Boris Johnson’s inability to cajole Xi Jingping to travel sets the conference off on a backward step.
There are, however, some signs of progress. They just are unlikely to have anything to do with politicians.
Last week we covered research into London’s new status as the global green finance hub. There is news today, too, of vast amounts of capital being put into sustainable business; witness JCB’s hydrogen deal, and Rolls-Royce’s move to put cash into green start-ups. Even the Prince of Wales has acknowledged that it is the private sector that will do much of the heavy-lifting in the developed world.
That’s an opportunity for London, and for the City, which will be forced to work harder (but will actually have the freedom to do so) to stay at the top table of global finance after Brexit. Identifying those new, evolving areas of finance will be vital to our continued prosperity.
Our instinct is that when historians look at the Glasgow jamboree they will not necessarily credit politicians with much success; but in the hundreds of private sector deals being made every day, they may find a reason for optimism.
Perhaps then it is good old fashioned capitalism, not communiques, that will do the most important work.