Richard North, 11/11/2021  

They say that actions speak louder than words, but that surely can only hold true if the actions are reported. In too much if the media, though, the words are reported and actions (or some of them) are barely noticed. The world has been turned upside down.

That is very much the case with China where the Guardian is hyperventilating about a surprise press conference in Glasgow from which has emerged a joint China/US plan for the two powers "to work together on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the crucial next decade".

This is the same China, incidentally, which has built life-size mock-ups of US warships, including an aircraft carrier, as part of a new target range complex in the Taklamakan Desert in in southwest Xinjiang. It is the same China which is ramping up the pressure in the South China Sea, and making threatening noises about the invasion of Taiwan.

The idea of China and the US working together on climate change, therefore, is about as credible as a fox discussing the today's menu with a flock of chickens – from inside the hen house. It will last as long as it provides a convenient smokescreen for the two parties, to further obscure their lack of action.

In terms of action, however, actions really do speak for themselves, with my report from yesterday on the record use of coal by China, which is unlikely to abate any time in the foreseeable future.

And while the reasons for China's actions has been discussed, more detail is coming through in the form of a report from Reuters. This tells of snowstorms wreaking havoc in northeast China, with record snowfall in some parts snarling traffic, disrupting train services.

Since the arrival of a cold wave on Sunday, temperatures in north eastern China has plunged by as much as 14ºC in certain areas. Meteorological departments in Liaoning and the province of Jilin have issued red alerts for snowstorms, the most severe in a four-tier, colour-coded weather warning system.

Zhou Chunxiao, chief forecaster at the Liaoning Provincial Meteorological Observatory, has said that recent snowfall in western Liaoning have been the heaviest since records began in 1951. A maximum snow depth of 21 inches was recorded in the Liaoning city of Anshan on Tuesday.

The point here, of course, is that while the totalitarian Chinese government is all powerful, it is also vulnerable. Unless it keeps the lights on, and its population warm and fed, it could very easily lose control. Western climate change rhetoric is well down its list of priorities.

While China is a long way away, according to the Mirror and a number of other papers, the UK is about to get its share of the white stuff. Freezing temperatures and snowfall are around the corner, starting on Sunday, 14 November.

And, as an indicator of what's coming our way with "net zero", yesterday saw another low wind day. According to the National Grid, by 5pm, with coal churning out the electricity, fossil fuel was taking 57.5 percent of the load. Wind was struggling to provide 6 percent, one-ninth of the power produced by CCGT .

This, however, does not stop the idiot Johnson grandstanding in Glasgow, following the publication of the first draft of an agreement to put the seal on the CoP26 process.

The seven-page script focuses on adaptation and finance for the less developed countries while urging parties to "revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally-determined contributions, as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022".

Some of the parties are distinctly unhappy, with the Guardian reporting the views of several negotiators. One says:
The draft covering decisions text has not come up to the global great expectations. The whole world wants a more ambitious outcome at Glasgow CoP26. But the draft covering decisions text waters down those ambitions and is not consistent with Paris agreement 1.5ºC goal, nor with raising ambitions [on cutting emissions].
If the conference actually buys this, it means that – very much as expected - failure has been dressed up as a success, while kicking the can down the road the next CoP, and presumably the next. The process has become more important than the outcome.

Even another of Johnson's pet projects – aimed at getting all the major car manufacturers to agree to stop selling new petrol and diesel cars globally by 2035 – seems to have foundered.

Although the plan has gained the support of a handful of brands, including BYD, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes and Volvo, other major marques have refused to sign up. Two of these are Toyota and Volkswagen, the latter stating that the deal wouldn't work for countries that lack renewable energy sources and EV charging infrastructure.

The company argues that it would be more environmentally friendly to continue selling new petrol and diesel vehicles in these regions for the time being, as the carbon emissions would not be reduced if the electricity to power them was produced from fossil fuels.

With that, I have heard some suggestions that, once CoP is over, Johnson may tone down his green aspirations in order to calm down his increasingly fractious back-benchers, especially as they are facing a number of by-elections and are being battered over "Tory sleaze".

But this may be unduly optimistic. Apart from the fact that he is embracing his new religion with the fervour of a recent convert. the "net zero" targets are locked into domestic law and are thus driving policy irrespective of international developments and domestic politics.

Possibly more likely, after the media overkill during the last weeks – where people are even more bored with climate change than they were Brexit – the issue will drop down the agenda and disappear from general sight. And therein lies the danger as the Climate Worshipers will remain focused on their agenda, as they have been since the late 70s.

In this, we are our own worst enemies. People are too easily distracted and unable to focus on any one issue for very long. As a result, when it comes to countering government actions, the crucial element of concentration of forces never happens. Energies are spread over a multitude of concerns, with infinitely small groups which are constantly fragmenting and reforming without ever achieving critical mass.

Temperamentally, most people are also intellectually idle, and disposed to negativity. They are mostly content to whinge, rather than actually do anything. If anyone does offer a course of action, many will find multiple reasons for not supporting it, often expending far more energy on this process than they would have, had they backed the idea.

Such campaigns as are mounted, therefore, tend to be shallow, ill-supported and short-lived – a risk to which our petition is exposed. They are rarely capable of creating more than an amount unfocused noise which can easily be disregarded by government. There is no magic wand to resolve all of this so, as I remarked yesterday, we end up getting the government we deserve.

Also published on Turbulent Times.

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